While you might not be able to control the things that create stress in your life — be it work, relationships etc. — you can control how you manage the stress and the way it manifests in your life. By employing daily habits that are certified stress relievers, you can help reduce the hold stress has on you.
While not all of these strategies will work for you, give them a go and you’re sure to find something that provides a little relief when you’re feeling under the pump.
Yep, it might sound boring but exercise is one of the most important ways you can manage your stress levels. Exercise does great things for your mental health and has been shown to be as effective as talking therapy and medication in the treatment of mild to moderate depression.
If stress-related anxiety and depression are creeping in, try to incorporate some daily movement into your life. In fact, research shows that people who exercise regularly are much less likely to experience anxiety than those who don’t exercise. Go for a walk in a park, book in for a yoga class, hit the pools or try a dance class — whatever works for you.
While having a giggle might be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re stressed, it can do wonders for your mood. According to Healthline, laughing can help to relieve your stress response, while also reducing tension by relaxing your muscles. In the long term, laughter has also been shown to help improve your immune system and your mood.
Hugging people outside of your household might not be possible right now (with COVID and all) but, if you have people in your household that you can be affectionate with, do so. According to Healthline, cuddling, kissing, hugging and sex are all great stress relievers.
Positive physical contact can actually help release oxytocin and lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels. In turn, this also helps to lower your blood pressure and heart rate, which are often signs of stress. Humans aren’t the only ones who benefit from cuddling in this situation, with chimpanzees also hugging friends who are stressed.
Certain music can be incredibly soothing and do wonders for your mood as it induces a relaxation response that helps to lower blood pressure and your heart rate as well as cortisol levels. Healthline also recommends listening to nature sounds, which can induce a sense of calm when you’re feeling on edge.
Stress can activate your sympathetic nervous system, which can also trigger your fight-or-flight response. While this response is necessary for survival, it can be triggered regularly due to the stresses of modern life. When these feelings strike, deep breathing is a great way to activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to produce feelings of relaxation and calm.
Healthline recommends trying a number of deep breathing exercises including diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, belly breathing, the 4-7-8 method and paced respiration. Basically, you want to focus all of your attention on the breath and aim to make it slower and deeper into your belly.
For those of you lucky enough to have a pet in your life, spending time with them is a great way to relieve stress. In fact, interacting with pets can release oxytocin, which, according to Healthline, is a brain chemical that helps boost your mood. Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, make it a priority to spend some time with your pet.