We all face stressful situations every day. Stress is normal. It’s simply a psychological and physical reaction that kicks in when you’re under pressure. However, stress can also be the entry point to several health conditions and disorders.
Left unchecked, chronic stress can cause life-threatening issues like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity. That is why stress management is crucial. You need to know how to relieve stress to keep it from leading to these chronic health conditions.
We have taken a deep dive into the most relevant and helpful ways to relieve stress so that you can protect yourself from the horrible illnesses it leaves in its wake.
How to Relieve Stress: Science-Based Solutions
1. Get Some Sleep
Quality sleep is so vital. It reduces stress levels and improves our mood. A few hours of shut eyes gives your brain and body a boost so you’ll be super-charged when you wake.
More sleep might not be easy if you work a lot or have a time-intensive side hustle, but it is one of the best things to do to minimize stress. Find time to sleep, even if that means going to bed an hour or two sooner. You want to ensure you’re getting quality sleep, not a few minutes.
You may need to adjust your schedule to accommodate sleep and make it a routine. If you struggle to sleep, prime the environment to help induce sleep. Use a comfortable bed, play soothing background music, turn off the lights, avoid using your phones or computers before bed, and get your mind off work.
2. Practice Meditation and Mindfulness
Meditation soothes the mind, calms the nerves, and makes you appreciate the present moment. Meditation also helps you set aside worries, doubts, regrets, and anything bothering you while refocusing your mind on healthy thoughts. You will feel much better and live a more balanced life when you do this regularly.
You can practice several forms of meditation, including guided imagery, visualization, mindfulness meditation, mantra meditation, yoga, etc. The beautiful thing about meditation is that you can practice it anywhere and still get excellent results. If you’re a shy person, people around you may not even pick up on what you’re doing unless you want them to.
If you’re in a dire situation and need more help, you can find therapists and groups in your area and sign up for MBCT (mindfulness-based cognitive therapy). This type of therapy combines cognitive therapy, meditation, and mindfulness.
3. Turn to Your Loved Ones
Spending time with family is one of the best ways to relieve stress. Sometimes all you need to feel good are the people who love and care about you. Studies have shown that people without family or friends are more susceptible to stress, anxiety, and depression. The reverse is also true.
Take a step back from your craziness schedules and spend quality time with family and friends. This social interaction is therapeutic and will keep you sane, calm, and collected. If you don’t have these people in your life, all hope is not lost. There are support groups that may help. Also, consider volunteering for a social cause you’re passionate about. You will meet and make friends with people in the process.
4. Start Exercising
You don’t have to be a gym buff to get the benefits of exercise. Just start a routine. Like sleep, exercise promotes physical and emotional health and reduces stress too. While all forms of exercise can have a positive effect, the following are some of the best stress-busters:
- Brisk walking
- HIIT workouts
- Team sports
Like meditation, exercise will take your mind away from your stressors and focus on the activity you’re doing. Pick something you enjoy doing as you’re more likely to stay the course with it. Your training will not only reduce stress but will also boost your overall health. As the saying goes, health is wealth.
5. Take a Break
Are you frustrated because you can’t seem to complete a task, or have you been brainstorming ideas without success? Your body can react negatively to these scenarios, leaving you feeling bad about yourself. Now is the time to take a break and cool off.
Get your eyes off the screen, leave your workstation, or stop thinking about that fleeting idea. Sometimes you need a break to refresh and come back swinging again. Take as long as possible and ensure your mind is calm before returning to that issue. If you can put it off until the following day, go for it.
6. Take a Walk
Sometimes it’s not enough to take a break and remain in the same spot. You may have stopped what you were doing but staying in that same location could bring it back again. Taking a walk ensures you not only stop thinking or acting on the source of your stress, but you move as far away from it as possible.
Taking a walk is also a form of exercise, so you’d also benefit from physical activity. If you can get outside, even better. Expose yourself to nature and appreciate what you see around you. You’ll notice that your stress levels will go down, and you will feel much better in a few minutes.
7. Use Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is a wonderful way to relieve stress without leaving the comfort of your home. It is a holistic healing approach that nourishes your body, mind, and spirit. You can use several products to create the right atmosphere that will help reduce your stress.
Some helpful products include:
- Facial steamers
- Essential oils
- Clay masks
You can use these products to inhale scents, create a mood, or apply oils to your skin. The effect is to reduce stress levels. Aromatherapy also helps with sleep anomalies, improves digestion, and boosts immunity.
8. Healthy Diet
You may be surprised to learn that your eating habits can affect your mood and mental well-being. A healthy diet helps lower your blood pressure, improve your immune system and enhance your mood. If you’re not on a healthy diet, there’s no better time to make a change.
On the other hand, unhealthy, processed, or junk foods will harm you and your mental health. When you’re stressed, these foods are more appealing but eating them won’t help your condition. If anything, you’d be worse off. Don’t wait until you’re stressed to clear junk from your meal plans. Only eat healthy foods that nourish you.
Vegetables, fruits, lean meats, nuts, and foods containing essential nutrients are all staples of a healthy diet. Consult a dietitian if you need guidance and commit to a meal plan. When you consistently eat the right foods, you will feel fantastic inside and out.
9. Deep Breathing
Deep breathing is a relaxation technique you can use to reduce stress. It is a natural call to your body to take a chill pill and relax. When you practice deep breathing and your body relaxes, heightened stress will naturally fizzle away. According to science, while performing deep breathing exercises, more oxygen is sent to the part of your brain that handles your ability to stay calm.
You can practice different deep breathing exercises, and each one can help relieve stress. They are:
- Resonant or coherent breathing
- Breath focus technique
- Pursed lip breathing
- Diaphragmatic breathing
- Belly breathing
- Box breathing
- 4-7-8 breathing
- Lion’s breath
Besides helping to decrease stress, breathing exercises can reduce blood pressure, improve digestion, support proper posture, and boost the immune system. Create a daily habit of pausing our activities and focusing on your breathing for a few minutes.
10. Laugh Often
Laughter is therapeutic. While it may not directly cure illnesses, it positions your body and mind for positive outcomes. For stress reduction, laughter helps calm the nerves and puts you in a relaxed state. And because happiness accompanies laughter, stress will have nothing on you afterward.
How to relieve stress with laughter? Connect with people who make you laugh and happy, watch comedians tell jokes, play a prank on your friends, remember funny moments, or make a funny face in the mirror and laugh at your goofiness. You can even break into fits of laughter without cause, and your brain will probably not know the difference.
Stress can be overwhelming and lead to various health issues. You’re better off clipping its wings before it gets out of hand. These are some of the simplest ways to relieve stress. These techniques are helpful in the heat of the moment, but you’ll benefit more by consistently practicing them.
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.
Jason Butler is the owner of My Money Chronicles, a website where he discusses personal finance, side hustles, travel, and more. Jason is from Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from Savannah State University with his BA in Marketing. Jason has been featured in Forbes, Discover, and Investopedia.