Stress Relief Tips
For many of us, stress permeates our lives. From traffic and deadlines at work, to finances, and just not having enough time in the day to do all we want, stress is everywhere. The way we feel stress can be varied, but the effects it has on our lives are definitively negative. A number of emotional and physical disorders like depression, anxiety, heart attacks, stroke, hypertension, immune system instability have been linked to stress. While we may not be able to completely reduce stress to zero, it’s clear that managing and lowering the stresses in our lives can cause numerous benefits in our daily happiness and health. Here are some stress relief tips that you can use anywhere.
If you only have 5 minutes…
If you’re at work and feeling overwhelmed, stuck in a traffic jam, or just in a stressful situation, these stress relief tips are for you.
1) Listen to music – studies have shown that listening to music can lower your blood pressure, reduce the hormones that are released by stress, like cortisol and adrenaline, and promote positive moods. So flip on the radio while you’re in traffic or put on some ear buds while you work.
2) Drink tea – coffee, with all of its caffeine, can cause spikes in blood pressure. However, teas like Green Tea or Black Tea contain a compound called L-Theanine which has been shown to help lower anxiety, blood pressure, and even help you focus and relax. By swapping out your morning joe for these teas, you can enjoy many of the benefits of coffee without increasing your heart rate and anxiety.
3) Stretch – even if you’re just at your desk, getting up and walking around or stretching your arms and legs can release tension from stress and get your blood flowing again. Body movement also releases endorphins which will elevate your mood.
If you have 30 minutes…
1) Go for a walk – Just like stretching at your desk or walking around the office, moving your body can release tension from your muscles and stimulate your brain to produce endorphins. There are many other stress relief exercises or movements you can do, alone or as part of your walk. A few stress relief exercises or movements are: slow stretches, deep breathing, and shoulder shrugs. Getting a change of scenery can give you a change of perspective or help you to clear your mind.
2) Eat healthy – while it may be comforting to eat a muffin or donut or an entire bar of chocolate when you get stressed, choosing a healthier food will help give your body both the energy to get through the day and also the nutrients to keep you healthy, strong, and beautiful. Some foods you should reach for in these times include:
- complex carbs like oatmeal or whole wheat toast – they can induce the brain to make serotonin and can help stabilize blood sugar levels
- citrus fruits – vitamin C helps to lower cortisol, a stress hormone, and can also keep your immune system strong
- Leafy greens (spinach, soybeans, or arugala) – with lots of magnesium these can mediate fatigue and headaches caused by stress
- Almonds – a handful of any type of nut is good for you but did you know almonds contain both vitamin E and B vitamins? Vitamin E is great for immune support, and B vitamins can help your body’s resiliency to stress, both mentally and physically.
3) Meditate – the benefits of meditation are too numerous to discuss here, and you don’t have to be a yogi sitting in the lotus pose (or even know what that is) in order to benefit from this ancient practice. Just sitting without distractions, clearing your mind, and letting your thoughts and emotions pass by without holding on to them or thinking about them (or having conversations about them in your head) is what meditating is about. It may help to focus on your breathing, light a candle and focus on the flame, or repeat a word or phrase that has a significant meaning for you. Studies show that meditating for as few as 10 minutes a day can help decrease stress, improve cardiovascular health, and enhance mood.