Stress is a silent killer with growing frequency in the United States. Stress can affect all the systems of your body and wreak havoc. Learning to deal with stress can help ensure a long and healthy life. Check out 7 more effective stress management strategies in this blog.
Meditation is an easy way to reduce all the jumbled thoughts in your head, focus on the here and now, and be present in your body. A few minutes of practice per day can reduce stress and anxiety. Consistent practice may also alter your neural pathways, making you more resilient to stress.
Deep, Focused Breathing
When we become stressed our brain tells our glands to release cortisol into our body triggering the stress response. One of the changes as you switch to the stress response “fight or flight” is to increase your breath rate, heart rate, and blood pressure allowing for more oxygen delivery to working cells and tissue. You can return to a more restful state by using deep breathing with focus on the breath itself. This is a particularly great stress reducer because it can be done anywhere and nobody will even know you are doing it.
One of the best ways to practice your breath work is to take a large belly breath. Feel the air fill your stomach, move up into your ribcage, and finally reach your chest before you exhale. As you progress, make your breath slower and deeper to help guide you back to the parasympathetic (relaxed) state.
So the next time you’re spending time with family, in a meeting, waiting in line at the supermarket, or find yourself in rush hour traffic, be sure to work on your breathing.
Listen to your relaxing tunes
Music is a powerful tool for changing your mindset. It can help send you to a new place, pump you up for a workout, and help you relax. Slow paced relaxing music can help lower blood pressure and heart rate as well as reduce stress hormones. Some great genres for this include meditation songs, nature sounds, and Lo-Fi music. This is another reason why massage studios, spas, and yoga studios incorporate these types of playlists into their spaces.
It’s easy to just keep putting off that project or homework and say you’ll do it later. However, as the deadline draws closer, you will inevitably become more stressed and strung out. You can feel more comfortable by getting in the habit of creating a to-do list, organizing your activities, and finishing your task ahead of schedule. This is also great for anyone who works on projects they may require alterations at the end and provide you more time to make these changes.
Spend time with family and friends
It is easy to feel stressed and alone when isolated for long periods of time. This is of course significantly worse during the pandemic. Social contact with people that you care about is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety while boosting your mood.
It is critical to find a good emotional and social support system if you do not have it already. This may mean reaching outside your existing friends, or talking to the friends and family you have and asking for more support. Clubs, sports teams, or other community organizations are another great way to get involved and be more social.
Playing “relaxing” videogames
While some videogames can definitely trigger the stress response (Dark Souls), there are others that can be a relaxing journey or experience. Video games combine art, music, and the user experience to get you lost in their world. Games can also have the effect of sidelining your problems and giving you a new focus, even if only temporarily.
Yoga is not only great for stress relief but movement as well. Yoga combines multiple relaxation exercises including: breathing, meditation, exercise, and soothing music. Your body and mind can be present while moving through a series of poses. Yoga can help lower your heart rate, blood pressure, and stress hormone cortisol. Yoga classes can be found in many gyms, studios, or you can do it solo at home following a well-reviewed YouTube video. Yoga classes come in a variety of forms and progressions, making them a great fit for anyone.
Stress is an ongoing bodily condition that we are designed to go in and out of. While stress can’t be avoided we can take measures to avoid and relieve ourselves. Some activities like massage can incorporate multiple stress relieving activities such as: physical touch, breathing, music, pain relief, and focusing on your thoughts and body awareness.
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