In our increasingly competitive world – with fewer jobs and greater demands at the ones that remain – stress levels are sky-rocketing. Stress is recognized as the Number one “proxy” killer, meaning that it is not the actual cause of death, but it is the direct cause for many chronic and fatal illnesses. It would be nice if we could just push an “off” button to deal with overwhelming stress. Though it may not be as simple as pushing a button, there are a number of techniques we can use to reduce stress immediately:
1 – Intense Exercise:
When you get angry, do you find that taking a walk helps you to cool off? Or maybe you prefer to work out your aggression on a punching bag? Intense, physical activity is a great way to immediately reduce your stress. When you feel stressed out, your body triggers the same adrenal response that you experience in “fight or flight” situations.
Exercise can help utilize that adrenaline in a healthy way and make you feel more calm.Do what feels best for you. Go for a brisk walk, or run a full sprint. Slug it out in the boxing ring, or enjoy some relaxing yoga. No matter what you do, physical exercise can help you relieve stress immediately.
2 – Breathe Deeply:
There are many variations of breathing exercises that can help you to relax when you are feeling stress or anxiety. Noted health adviser Dr. Andrew Weil offers this breathing exercise to help you relax:
Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
- This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
However, any variation in which you inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth through a consistent count pattern will help you to relax.
3 – Have a Good Cry:
You may have been told not to cry since you were a young child, but crying is one of your body’s natural responses to stress and other emotional tension. Studies have found that people reported improved mood and sense of well-being after a good cry.
Just find somewhere that you can be alone and really let it out. Remember that you are likely to have puffy and red eyes afterward, so give yourself some time to compose yourself before you are required to be back at work or school or another social obligation. A cold compress can help reduce swelling and soothe tired eyes.
4 – Sense Therapy:
Light some candles and create a soothing environment with soft light. Play some soft music. Burn some incense with calming aromas. There are a number of ways that you can soothe your senses through sight, smell, or touch to help your body relax.
A great combination is to take a bath with scented salts and surround yourself with candles (maybe with complimentary scents) and play some of your favorite, relaxing music. You’ll feel a marked improvement in your mood after 15-30 minutes. This is a great way to wind down at the end of a stressful day!
By: Maria Rainier, a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where she writes about education, online universities, and what an online degree means in an increasingly technological world. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.