Do you know the secret to relieving stress in your life? Take action. Worrying about it only fuels the fire. If you really want to help reduce or eliminate stress and anxiety in your life, then identify several activities or methods that you enjoy and that fit into your lifestyle and make them a part of your stress-reduction routine. Where should you begin? How about right here!
Laugh It Up
Genuine belly-busting laughter not only reduces the physical downfalls of stress, such as headache and fatigue; it also lifts your spirits. Forced laughter doesn’t have the same impact, so feel it in your soul. Watch your favorite comedians, movies, or YouTube videos. Get together with friends who know how to laugh it up. Laughter is medicine!
Smell the Flowers
Scents have the power to soothe and calm the mind and body. Essential oils are believed to act directly on the brain’s emotional centers. Breathe in the aromas of oils shown to help promote calm, such as lavender, rose, rosemary, clary sage, and chamomile. Use an essential oil diffuser, a spritzer, add oils to your bath, or breathe in their aroma from a cotton ball or soft cloth.
Tune In to Music
Music is a universal language that can both stir and calm our heart. Music has the ability to dampen levels of the hormone, cortisol, and ease stress in the process. Tune into your favorite music whenever you can to help ease tension and stress. Don’t be afraid to break into a dance as well! Moving to music is another way to rein in stress and anxiety. Work it out.
The mind is a powerful tool, so let’s use it. If you try guided visualization, you may discover it is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety. A great way to start is to listen to a guided imagery recording to help you visualize a sensory experience, such as walking on a beach, exploring a flower-filled meadow, or frolicking with puppies in a field. You pick a scene that appeals to you and then envision the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures. This visualization can take you away from your worries.
Breathe It Away
Various breathing techniques can be practiced just about anywhere. One popular breathing process is 4-7-8: breath in deeply through your nose to the count of 4; hold the breath for a count of 7, then release your breath through your mouth to a count of 8. Repeat this routine at least 5 to 7 more times, and do it several times a day. Deep breathing can be combined with other anxiety-reducing techniques, such as guided visualization, meditation, and progressive relaxation.
Take a Staycation
It isn’t always possible to hop into a car or plane and take a vacation, but you can take a staycation. Even if it’s only for a few hours (but hopefully it can be a bit longer), shut off your phone, put a “do not disturb” sign on your office or home door, tell your family and friends you are “away,” and just do something for you alone. Read a book you’ve been dying to read. Watch a movie. Take a walk in the park. Soak in an herbal bath with a cup of green tea. Get a massage. You deserve a staycation.
Here’s the skinny on meditation: You don’t have to worry about “doing it right.” Meditation is a practice. Relax into it. You also don’t need to sit cross-legged for hours. Some people meditate while walking (walking meditation), washing dishes, or sitting in their garden. Twenty minutes a day can be helpful and is a great start. The only “secret” to meditation is practicing it, and daily is highly recommended. There are various techniques, and mindfulness is one of the more popular ones. You can watch many meditation videos and instructions on YouTube, in your library, and in group and individual classes in the community. The key thing is a clear and calm mind.
Dozens of yoga poses support and promote relaxation, and you don’t have to be a gymnast to do them. You can get professional instruction in classes or online. You may want to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. A 15-minute yoga program several times a week (or daily if possible) can relax your body and mind and help you get through the day. Yoga also can help reduce muscle pain, aid digestion, and improve sleep.
Try Progressive Relaxation
If you want to experience a sense of relaxation from the top of your head to the tips of your toes, then progressive relaxation is for you. Get into a comfortable position lying down or sitting. Beginning with your toes, tense each muscle group in your body, hold it for a few seconds, and then release. Work your way up to your body (and don’t forget your arms and fingers). Be sure to include your facial muscles, including your forehead. Playing soothing music in the background is a nice touch.
A tried-and-true way to banish stress and tension is exercise. Jogging, a game of tennis or racketball, swimming, Zumba, a brisk walk, lifting weights, or other physical activity can raise endorphin levels, which helps relieve pain and lifts mood. Research shows that people feel calmer after exercise and that feeling lasts for several hours after a 20- to 30-minute exercise session.
Stress is a part of life, and a little stress is actually healthy. However, unmanaged stress can cause inflammation throughout the body, muscle aches and pains, anxiety, irritability, loss of sleep, and more. Thankfully there are some wonderful, natural, effective ways to get stress under control and live your life to the fullest. Try one or more of these stress management techniques and feel better soon!
Deborah Mitchell is a freelance health writer who is passionate about animals and the environment. She has authored, co-authored, and written more than 50 books and thousands of articles on a wide range of topics. This article was originally published on NaturallySavvy.com.