Ten simple ways to relieve stress
It’s hard not to get overwhelmed once in a while. But being overly stressed can ruin ones mental health and weaken the body’s immunity. Here’s how to navigate stressful situations to ensure that it does not cause emotional and physical harm, writes Evelyn Makena.
Smiling when dealing with a difficult situation does not sound like an easy choice to make. Smiling works in two ways.
People smile when they are happy, but doing it when in the midst of life stresses gives one the ability to recover from difficult episodes.
Studies show that smiling affects emotions and lowers the heart rate to help the body recover from stressful encounters.
Smiling helps reduce the body’s stress response whether one feels happy or not.
2. Write it down
Journaling can help reduce stress as it helps us put things into perspective. Writing down ones feelings and thoughts offers an emotional release and offers clarity.
By gaining focus, one is in a better position to pay attention to things that matter and that facilitate better problem solving.
Some researchers say writing down your negative thoughts in a piece of paper and throwing it away is an effective way of clearing your mind and reducing anxiety.
3. Schedule worry time
Some of the things that worry us require that we respond to them immediately.
However, most life stressors do not require immediate attention. We can always respond to them at our convenience.
In this case, one strategy to ensure that stress does not interfere with your daily activities is to schedule time when you think and deal with the stressors.
Make a mental note of the stressor you need to deal with and revisit it when time is right.
4. Shake it up
Exercise and physical activity, produces endorphins, chemicals in the brain that relieve stress, act as natural painkillers and improve mood.
Stress tends to affect people’s sleep and production of endorphins during exercise can go a long way in fixing this.
By concentrating on your body movement during exercise, you tend to forget about your worries.
Regularly exercising to relieve stress helps your mind stay focused on tasks and thoughts that matter.
5. Stand tall
You have heard about the expression about people looking like they carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders.
Indeed, the burden of stress can lead people to assume a slumped posture. Slumping makes breathing difficult and reduces the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.
It causes tension in the muscles hence magnifying anxiety. On the other hand, maintaining an upright posture when stressed gives one confidence, promotes better circulation, reduces muscle tension and promotes relaxation.
6. Listen to music
Music has a huge effect on our mood. The type of music you listen to determines how it affects your mood.
Fast music, helps one feel more alert and improves concentration. High tempo music makes you feel energetic and gives a positive outlook on life.
While slow music, helps quiet the mind, relax the mind and soothe the body. Soothing music can also help in improving sleep.
7. Step out
Being out in nature helps reduce negative emotions and improve mood. Nature not only contributes to our emotional wellbeing, but to our physical health as well.
Viewing scenes of nature either physically or virtually, reduces blood pressure, heart-rate , relax muscles and reduce production of stress hormones.
Scientists say that simply having a plant in your living space or the office has significant impact on stress and anxiety. Nature soothes, helps us cope with pain and restores.
When faced with stress, it is easy to give in to negative self-talk and have a low self-esteem. Positive affirmations can help counter this.
Reciting positive affirmations can increase feelings of inner peace and buffer against the effects of stress.
These statements help you visualize and reinforce in your mind how you would like to react to certain situations.
Repeating the positive affirmations increases your confidence in handling life’s situations.
Deep breathing is an effective way of lowering stress in the body. Taking a deep breath signals the brain to calm down.
Additionally, breathing from diaphragm increases the level of oxygen in the blood and helps the body relax.
Shallow breathing on the other hand makes the muscles tense up and increases stress levels.
For best results, put the hands below the navel, inhale slowly through the nose and watch how your belly expands.
Hold your breath briefly and exhale slowly. Repeating this exercise will enable the body relax almost immediately.
10. Talk about it
A problem shared is a half solved. There is emotional relief in sharing your feelings with someone who cares and is willing to listen.
Reaching out to a support system be it a friend, family or a professional when stressed can help you feel better.
Sharing about your feelings helps reduce tension and lower the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.