Stress can be a powerful motivator. It can push you to overcome your daily challenges and achieve goals that make you brighter, more financially stable, happier, and healthier. However, being on edge most of the time and pushing yourself to the limit is harmful. Whether you sweat bullets or the small stuff, follow these 12 tips to feel relief instantly.
1. Taking Deep Breaths
Breathing exercises can help calm your mind when you’re feeling anxious. Inhaling and exhaling deeply through your nose expands your lungs, causes your belly to rise and slows your heart rate. You can practice other breathing exercises, but all of them will help you feel at peace when you’re in fight-or-flight mode.
2. Walking More
Regular strolling is a great way to trick your body into aerobic exercise. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, walk briskly for 10 minutes or bike when you can to activate your brain’s reward system.
This exercise helps ease tension in your body, indirectly improving your mental health. If you’re experiencing burnout, stretching daily for 10 minutes can reduce anxiety, alleviate exhaustion and lower pain.
4. Reducing Your Screen Time
Screen time can ruin your sleep quality, and compromise your ability to recover physically and mentally from the pressures of everyday life. Go offline after work and use non-electronic entertainment options to minimize digital blue light’s effect on your health. Wearing glasses with special lenses, looking at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes, reducing your device’s brightness and switching to night mode help.
5. Playing Your Jams
Music is good for the soul. It can touch you spiritually and help you recalibrate emotionally. One or two tracks can lift your spirits in less than 10 minutes.
Listening to and singing songs that speak your truth let you express yourself in ways you otherwise can’t. Even the melodies of instrumental pieces, the relaxing sounds of a slow-moving river and deep underwater noises can be soothing.
6. Taking a Nap
Power napping will help you recharge your batteries and beat the blues. Get shuteye for 20 minutes halfway through your day and you’ll magically feel fresh.
7. Stepping Outside
Leave your house to be closer to nature, or to socialize with your friends or family. Spending too much time indoors can do a number on you physically and emotionally. Biophilic design can only do so much to mimic the natural world in artificial environments, so catch some sun, hike a mountain or go camping when possible.
8. Being With Your Pet
Cuddling with your furry companion is a fun way to tip the emotional balance in favor of pleasant feelings. Petting your dog for 10 minutes will suffice to take the edge off your psychological distress.
9. Saying “No”
Being a people pleaser can be nerve-racking. Accepting every request — no matter how overwhelming or inconvenient — at the expense of your peace will make you miserable. You lose control over your life because you let others have power over your decisions.
Performing your responsibilities even when inconvenient is part of adulting, but you have to draw the line somewhere. Set your boundaries without feeling guilty or saying sorry to prevent others from getting in the way of your happiness. They may or may not hold you in high regard for standing your ground, but you’ll gain self-respect.
Undoing your people-pleasing tendency takes practice, so go one step at a time. You only need to try it once to experience how liberating it feels to decline something you don’t want and don’t have to do.
10. Treating Yourself
Indulging yourself every once in a while can give you a rush of endorphins and dopamine. Ordering your favorite snack, buying a new pair of kicks, or renting a fun movie will lighten your mood and dampen your stress.
However, retail therapy is only healthy in moderation. Using it as your go-to coping mechanism may do you more harm than good.
Money — or the lack thereof — is a significant stressor for 55% of adults in the United States. If you make $40,000 a year and lack $40,000 saved for retirement by 30, build up a nest egg first and go easy on your spending. Shopping can be therapeutic in the short term, but throwing money at your problems will aggravate your stress long term.
11. Having a Laugh
A laugh a day keeps the doctor away. Even a chuckle can drive down your cortisol levels and put you in a cheerful mood. Laughing is cathartic, for humor can release pent-up energy, cure your chest butterflies and open the floodgates to pain-numbing hormones.
Comedy is everywhere — not just in sitcoms, standups, satires, farces and slapstick performances. It’s in your state of mind, so take yourself lightly. You’ll find most minor inconveniences trivial and frustrating moments gratuitous.
12. Finishing a Nagging Task
Do you tend to procrastinate when it comes to household chores? Are you putting off a call? Is there an unread email you’re actively skipping? Do at least one thing you’re avoiding to free up space in your brain. Checking off an item on your mental to-do list is intoxicating.
Bend Over Backwards to Decrease Stress
Stress is inescapable but manageable. Learning how to cool down when feeling the heat can be challenging, but starting with these tips will put you on the right track.