Stress, left unchecked, can cause health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. It can also lower your body’s immune system and lead to problems with sleep.
If you’re starting to feel the tension build because of work, family, or other obligations, try one of these tips to help reduce stress fast.
When we are stressed our breathing tends to become quick and shallow, which increases our anxiety level. Deep breathing increases oxygen to the brain and promotes a state of calmness. Try this yoga breathing technique called Sama Vritti, or equal breathing. Breathe in deeply and slowly through your nose for a count of four, and then exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of four. Continue for several minutes or until you feel yourself becoming more relaxed.
Get up and start walking. If you’re in the office, take a quick lap around the inside of the building or go outside and walk the perimeter of the parking lot. If you’re at home, go for a quick walk around the neighborhood. Any kind of physical activity will boost endorphins, which help reduce stress and improve your mood.
Turn on the radio or plug in your iPod. Listening to quiet or meditative music can slow the pulse and heart rate, lower blood pressure, and decrease the levels of stress hormones. If quiet music isn’t your thing, try listening to something more upbeat to increase positive emotions.
We tend to turn to food when we’re stressed. It’s perfectly fine as long as you pick a healthy snack. A handful of nuts can satisfy that salty craving and provide you with a boost of energy because they’re packed with nutrients and minerals. If you have a sweet tooth, eat a piece of dark chocolate. Studies have found that eating it regularly can decrease production levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Having cell phones and tablets means that we’re available and “on” all of the time. Turn off your mobile devices and step away from your computer for a few hours. You won’t miss anything important. Those work emails can wait and that funny video your aunt posted on Facebook will still be there later. Use the time to be present in the moment.
Sometimes we get stressed because we feel overwhelmed with everything we have to do. Take a moment to make a list of the things you need to do for the week, then divide it up by importance. If you can delegate duties to someone else, don’t be afraid to ask. Sometimes we get stressed because we feel we have to do it all. Cut yourself some slack.
Head over to your favorite news parody site or meme generator and have a good chuckle. When we’re stressed, we tend to lose our sense of humor. Laughter is the best stress-relief medicine. It boosts your energy levels and relieves physical tension and stress. A good bout of laughter can leave your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes afterwards.
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