Stress is a part of life we have all experienced at one time or another. We simply must face the fact that life can't always be easy. However, when your stress is both overwhelming and persistent, you should realize that it is time for you to take action and find stress relievers that work for you.
According to Psychology Today, stress can cause you various problems such as:
- Chronic stress can put a person at risk for psychiatric illnesses and depression.
- Chronic stress can damage key parts of your brain putting you at risk for Alzheimer's and dementia.
- An increased risk for diabetes, heart attack and stroke can be the result of stress.
- The more stress you face in a month; the more headaches you will encounter.
- Your self-control can be impaired by even a moderate amount of stress.
The three leading ways to cope with stress include the use of exercise, cognitive behavioral therapy and meditation.
Perhaps, the following suggestions will help you with knowing how to relieve stress.
One of the best stress relievers you should try is meditation. Meditation is a relaxation technique that can not only reduce your stress but also your anxiety. A Chicago health and wellness coach psychologist Robbie Maller Hartman, PhD explains that "Research suggests that daily meditation may alter the brain's neural pathways, making you more resilient to stress."
If you’re looking for how to relieve stress, there are many ways you can meditate to reduce your stress and anxiety. These are a few ways that you will find quite easy to get started with:
Combine Walking with Meditating
For a healthy way to meditate, you can simply go for a walk. It can be done on a city sidewalk, in a quiet park or at your favorite mall.
For this form of meditation, your focus should be on your feet and leg movements. In order to focus on each movement of your feet and legs, you should walk at a slow pace. As you concentrate while focusing, repeat words of action. For instance, say "lifting", "moving", and "placing" as you do each action with your foot.
According to Judith Tutin, PhD, walking can also allow you to "Take 5 minutes and focus on only one behavior with awareness". For example, when walking notice the way the air feels and how your feet feel when they hit the ground. Again, while you’re focusing, you can let your troubles melt away.
The most widely practiced and best known form of meditation is prayer. Most religions include prayers either spoken or written as a means of following your faith. This is not only a way to build your faith but also one of the best stress relievers around.
The prayer you use to reflect upon and recite can be one you create in your own words or a prayer that was written by others. For suggestions, you can consult with your priest, rabbi, pastor, minister or other spiritual leader.
Deep breathing is known to counter the effects of stress by slowing the heart rate down and lowering blood pressure.
The practice of regular, mindful breathing is known to be calming and energizing and can even help with stress related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders.
Bellows Breath Exercise:
Keeping your mouth relaxed but closed, inhale and exhale through your nose. Your in and out breaths should be short and equal in duration.
I suggest trying three in and out cycles per second. A quick diaphragm movement is produced by each cycle. After each cycle, breathe normally.
I suggest that you try not to over-exert yourself. For your first try, do this for only 15 seconds. You can increase your time by 5 seconds or more each time you practice this exercise until you reach one minute.
Zen Breath Counting:
This exercise can be done by you sitting in a comfortable position with your head inclined a little forward and your spine straight.
- Exhale and count 'one'.
- Exhale a second time and count 'two'.
- Exhale and count three more times counting 'three,' then 'four,' and finally 'five'.
- On the next exhalation begin at 'one' and continue.
- You should never count higher than 'five' and count only with each exhale.
Massage to Decompress
This procedure suggested by Cathy Benninger an assistant professor and nurse at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Columbus is one of the stress relievers that can be done by you alone.
First, you begin by placing a warm heat wrap around your shoulders and neck for 10 minutes. While closing your eyes, focus on relaxing your face, upper chest, neck and back muscles. After removing the heat wrap, use either a foam roller or tennis ball to massage your tension away.
According to Cathy, you massage in the following way: "Place the ball between your back and the wall. Lean into the ball, and hold gentle pressure for up to 15 seconds. Then move the ball to another spot, and apply pressure."
Soothing or Rock Music
Research has found that one of the best stress relievers is listening to soothing music. By listening to music you can lower your anxiety, blood pressure and heart rate. You can create a list of songs for your listening pleasure or you can use recordings of nature sounds such as birds chirping, the waves of the ocean or a bubbling brook.
Music and soothing nature sounds are one of the best stress relievers. I like to use a pair of headphones when listening and I prefer to be lying down.
When you are listening, try to focus your mind on the different instruments, melodies, singers in the music or on the nature sounds. For a different approach, you could also choose upbeat tunes and if you like singing you can sing loudly in order to blow off steam. Do what makes’ you feel most comfortable. There is no set rule as to how you should listen to music. It’s your preference.
Exercise can also be one of the many stress relievers that can reduce your depression and anxiety. Any form of exercise such as running or even just walking will help your brain and body to release tension and stress. Your exercise can be as simple as a walk around the block, shoulder shrugs and head rolls stretching and going up and down a few flights of stairs. I’d recommend a more strenuous exercise routine such as cross training to elevate your heart rate, but even something as easy as walking can benefit you.
Have a Good Laugh
Of all the stress relievers, one that will certainly lighten your mental load is a good, out-loud, belly laugh. By lowering your body's cortisol or stress hormone and boosting your brain’s endorphins, a good belly laugh will change your mood to a positive, feeling good one. Other ways to lighten up your mood include:
- Watching one of your favorite TV sitcoms.
- Reading comics or a humorous book.
- Chatting with a friend who likes to tell jokes.
Don’t laugh but according to Dr. Herbert Benson, the author of The Relaxation Response and a mind/body pioneer, needlework can put a person in a relaxed state. The form of needlework can be crocheting or knitting. It is the repetition of making the stitches that develops this relaxed state after you have passed the initial learning curve.
Needlework is unique, and of all the stress relievers listed, it’s one I have never tried. However, it might be something to consider since it can lower both your blood pressure and heart rate. It also reduces cortisol which is the stress hormone in your blood levels.
It is very important to have a positive mindset even when under a great deal of stress.
If you are feeling stressed, it can be very hard to hold onto positive thoughts and keep a positive mindset. At the same time, if you are feeling positive and have a positive mindset you probably won’t feel stressed, at least not that much.
Do what-ever you can to keep yourself away from stressful situations!
Only you can determine the best stress relievers for you. You know the kinds of things you are able to do and that you enjoy doing. Once you have decided what specific stress relievers will most likely work for you, make a list and keep it handy. Strive to include a touch of relaxation in every hour of your life, and you will be on your way to be stress free.