We live in a fast-paced world filled with schedules and deadlines, where the most commonly used phrase is “I do not have time.” And when asked how one is feeling, 'stressed' is the usual response you get rather than 'happy.'
Stress management is crucial to your well-being because the physical and emotional toll of not meeting your own needs can be devastating. Stress is toxic and tends to creep up in your system and cause physical, mental, and emotional illnesses.
Reducing stress will enhance your well-being and will help you live a happier, more productive life.
Follow these proven tips to relax and de-stress your mind and body.
1. Create your stress-free zone. Create a space in your home where you can go to de-stress yourself instantly. Being alone in the space will help you unwind and calm your senses. Set up a comfortable chair, light some incense sticks, and disappear there for few minutes until you feel relaxed.
2. Keep a gratitude journal. Writing down in your journal will help you feel calm and lower your stress levels. Write down a list of positive things at the close of each day. What made you happy, what did you accomplish today, what are you thankful for? When you focus on the good things in your life, it will take your mind off from the stress and tension in your life.
3. Talk to yourself. Positive self-talk can instantly make you feel positive and relaxed. When stressed out, talk to yourself positively. Talk about your day, how it was, and the things you encountered. This will calm down your senses and will also help you identify any negative feelings stirring up inside you that you might be unaware of otherwise. Try to make positive self -talk an everyday habit.
4. Take a bubble bath. A bubble bath is great for relaxing your muscles and your mind. It improves your blood circulation and cell movement. Pour yourself a glass of wine, get your novel, light candles, and immerse yourself in a tub of warm water.
5. Pour cold water over your wrists. Next time when you feel stressed out, pour some cold water over your wrists and behind your earlobes. This will relax you as major arteries are located in these areas and cooling these areas will calm down your entire body and mind.
6. Cuddle with your pet. Cuddling your pet is not just good for your pet, but it is good for you too. According to Paws for People, the physical and mental benefits include lower blood pressure, improved cardiovascular health, the release of endorphins (oxytocin) that have a calming effect, and a decline in overall physical pain. The act of petting produces an automatic relaxation response which lifts spirits and lessens depression. So, the next time you have a hard day at work, spend extra time with your pet and feel the difference.
7. Laugh and smile to de-stress. Laugh as much as you can. Smile at people throughout the day. Laughter releases dopamine in your brain and dopamine helps in reducing stress. Find what makes you laugh and make it a point to include it in your daily routine.
8. Hug and kiss more often. Hugs and kisses can reduce stress. Hugging causes your brain to release serotonin and endorphin to blood vessels to create pleasure and reduce sadness. Serotonin can enhance your mood and boost your self-esteem. Kissing also releases endorphins that counteract stress and depression. So, go ahead and give lots of hugs and kisses to your loved ones to relax and de-stress your mind and body.
9. Hang out with your friends. Friends are there to help you smoothly sail through the rough phases of your life. Close relationships work as buffers against negative emotions and experiences. A friend provides you with a safe place to vent feelings and fears that contribute to high stress. A coffee break with a colleague, a quick chat with your neighbor, or a dinner with a close friend will let you unwind, regroup, and relax.
10. Chew a gum to de-stress. Your jaw tends to hold on to a lot of tension and stress, especially for those who have a habit of grinding their teeth. Chewing gum stimulates your senses by involving smell, taste, and touch, thereby improving your mood and relaxing your mind and body. Constantly chewing gum for more than 10 minutes reduces stress hormone, namely cortisol in your body.
11. Unplug from social media. Screens can stress you out. So, once you are home from work, make it a point to disconnect from the social media for a few hours a day. Give your mind and body some quiet and peaceful time to relax. Stay away from everything technology - be it TV, mobile, iPad, and so on. The less connected you are to social media, the more connected you are to yourself.
12. Do something spontaneously. Take a different route to work, visit your favorite place while on your way home, or visit a friend. Do something impromptu. A small break from the routine will help you feel good and relaxed.
13. Treat yourself. Go out shopping or treat yourself to a nice dinner in your favorite restaurant. Splurge and spend money on yourself. This will remind you that life is good and you need to focus on the good side of life.
14. Add indoor plants. If you are stressed at work or home, adding plants can be restorative and calming. Houseplants not only brighten the space but also purify the air creating a more relaxed restful ambiance.
15. Cook a meal. Cooking works as a great de-stressor as it serves as a creative outlet. Use foods that are natural stress relievers. All berries, including blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries, are rich in vitamin C, which has been shown to be helpful in combating stress. Asparagus is loaded with vitamin B which is essential in helping you keep your cool when stress rears its ugly head. Carbohydrates can help the brain make serotonin, the same substance regulated by antidepressants. Finally, incorporate nuts into meals or as snacks. The nuts contain key phytonutrients which can reduce acute stress by lowering blood pressure and heart rate.
16. Drink Green Tea. Green tea is very soothing and can be a great stress reliever. It contains theanine, an amino acid that aids relaxation. Green tea contains powerful antioxidants such as polyphenols, flavonoids, and catechins that have a calming effect on the mind and body. These chemicals help create a positive mood. When under stress, instead of coffee, go for a cup of green tea.
17. Exercise daily. Exercising can instantly relax your body. It triggers the brain to release feel-good hormones called endorphins. Find the type of exercise that works for you. It should be fun and something you look forward to doing. Yoga, jogging, or peaceful walks, are great ways to increase activity and decrease physical and emotional stress.
18. Practice meditation and mindfulness. Find a class or listen to a recorded session. Learn to control your breathing and be present in the moment. With a calm and composed mind attained through a daily meditation ritual, you will be able to learn, think, plan, and do things more productively. Learning how to react during stressful situations will help you feel in control.
19. Get a massage. Massage enables you to get rid of all the piled-up stress and tension. Adding aromatherapy oils such as chamomile and lavender in your massage can have added advantage. Massage can help lower blood pressure and reduce anxiety and stress. Massage can also strengthen the immune system and enhance your sense of well-being. It has such a calming effect that it lets you sleep better.
High levels of cortisol are associated with high blood pressure, suppressed immune system function, and obesity. Frequent massages reduce the stress hormone cortisol.
20. Use pressure therapy. If you are stressed out and need to calm yourself instantly, apply pressure to the space between your second and third knuckle, where your finger and hands meet. While moving your thumb down your middle finger toward your palm, you will come across a soft indented spot on the inside of your finger, if your palm is facing up.
When you apply pressure on this area, it activates a nerve that loosens the area around the heart and will help you get rid of any stressful feeling. Also, activating the pressure points in the face can reduce headaches and improve focus, concentration, and attention. Golf balls are easy tools for pressure points on the feet. Just roll your foot back and forth over the golf ball. Stress balls or squishy objects are beneficial for releasing tension in the hands, and the repetitive motion can reduce anxiety.
21. Read daily. Reading is the best way to relax and de-stress your mind and body. Experts say even 6 minutes of reading is enough to unwind and relax your senses. When you read, you have to concentrate and focus on the written word. It stops us from ruminating about our own worries and takes us on an emotional journey. Reading has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and social isolation.
22. Listen to music. Music releases feel-good neuro-chemicals such as dopamine in your brain. Music is good for your everyday anxiety, and it is also beneficial for reducing stress. We connect to certain styles of music, or certain songs and the music becomes our medium to express our feelings.
23. Sing and dance. Singing helps tame the tension in your face, neck, and shoulders. Singing boosts the production of mood-enhancing endorphins and enables you to counter the ill-effects of stress. If you can add some moves to your singing, it will add to the fun and will elevate your heart rate. When under stress, dancing and singing can help you channel your energy positively and help you relax.
24. Find a hobby. Be creative in your outlets. Paint, knit, or learn to make jewelry. These tactile activities are more like mindfulness meditation where you need to focus on the complex patterns. They let you concentrate on the present moment and help you relax.
25. Plan your next vacation. Think of the sand dunes, the glistening beaches, and the places you always dreamed of going to. Take some time off from whatever you are doing and plan your next trip. The process of planning itself will help you de-stress and relax. Plus having a goal or reward is motivation.