7 Stress relief strategies
Most of us experience some level of stress in our everyday lives. In some cases, it can have a positive effect – e.g. motivating you to complete a task or meet a deadline. But when stress becomes chronic or stress levels get too high, it can have a number of negative effects on your health and wellbeing.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to help you manage day-to-day stress. Here are seven simple strategies to try.
1. Take a breath
If you’ve been feeling stressed, consider doing some calming breathing exercises when you wake up, before you go to bed and whenever you’re feeling anxious. Breathing exercises are a well-known relaxation technique and you can find plenty of step-by-step guides online.
2. Get enough ZZZs
This works both ways: sleep deprivation can cause you to feel stressed (and groggy, tired and irritable), but it can also be hard to fall asleep when you’re feeling stressed. If you’re struggling to doze off, try these tips: avoid drinking caffeine in the evenings, limit screen time (on phones, tablets or laptops) before bed, and have a warm bath or shower to help you relax.
3. Put pen to paper
Taking a few minutes each day to write down your thoughts in a journal may help you to manage stress and anxiety better. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, doing so can help you to prioritise your concerns, identify triggers and negative behaviours, and provide a space for positive and affirming self-talk.
4. Practice yoga
This relaxing mind-body practice not only helps you to tone muscles and improve flexibility, it can also help to relieve stress and improve mood. If you’re new to yoga, attend a trial class to see if it’s for you.
5. Have a massage
Massage therapy is a relaxing and enjoyable way to calm your mind and body, relieve stress and ease tight muscles. If you’re feeling tense, consider booking yourself a treatment to help you unwind.
6. Practice meditation
If your stress levels are on the rise, consider meditating for about 10 minutes each day. According to Mayo Clinic, this practice can “give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that can benefit both your emotional well-being and your overall health.” They also state that the emotional benefits of meditation can include gaining a new perspective on stressful situations, building skills to manage stress and reducing negative emotions.
7. Get moving
Along with its many other health benefits, exercise can also help to reduce stress. Harvard Health Publishing explains: “The mental benefits of aerobic exercise have a neurochemical basis. Exercise reduces levels of the body's stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body's natural painkillers and mood elevators.” So make exercise a part of your daily routine, whether that’s walking, running, swimming or taking a class at the gym.
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