Feeling stressed? You’re not alone. According to the American Institute of Stress, about 33% of Americans report feeling extreme stress and 48% say they have trouble sleeping because of stress. Stress is a common experience most all of us experience at one time or another. Chronic or extreme stress, however, is bad for your health.
Over time, stress will not only affect your mental health, but it will also manifest in physical symptoms as well. Long term stress effects on body can include heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Implementing stress reducing techniques into your daily routine can help you relieve stress while reducing your risk of stress related health problems.
Keep reading for 5 stress reducing techniques that will help you take charge of your stress.
Yep, you knew this was coming, didn’t you? Exercise has so many benefits for your physical health, including being one of the best stress reducing methods. Any amount of physical activity helps to reduce physical symptoms of stress, like high blood pressure and anxiety. When you exercise, your body produces hormones called endorphins.
Endorphins are known as the “feel good” hormones because they elevate your mood. Plus, focusing on something else, such as lifting weights or running, takes your mind off what you’re stressing over. Exercise can be a stress reducing release.
Meditation is an ancient practice for enhancing your awareness. There are many benefits to meditation, including helping you sleep better, lowering your resting heart rate and blood pressure, reducing negative emotions, and helping you focus better on the present. For these reasons, meditation can be a useful stress reducing technique you can do anytime. Taking a few minutes out of your day to relax your mind can help you gain a new perspective on your problems.
Do a simple meditation by finding a quiet place to comfortably sit. Close your eyes, focus on taking deep breaths, and do your best to quiet your thoughts. When thoughts do pop up (specifically bad thoughts) push them from your mind and refocus on your breathing. Do this exercise for at least 10 minutes daily.
Socializing with friends is a great stress reducing activity. Regular hangout sessions are a great way to blow off steam, take your mind off your problems, and build stronger connections with the people in your life. Humans are social animals, and we function better when we have a loving support system.
Taking a few hours out of your week to catch up with friends and family can do great things for both your mental and physical health. Next time your stress is getting to you, make plans to hang out with your best buddies.
When you’re under a lot of stress, taking time for yourself seems not only impossible but impractical. How can you take an hour out of your day to get a massage when you have a deadline to meet? But not taking time for yourself to decompress will only make a stressful situation worse.
Stress builds up over time and if you don’t find time for yourself, you’ll need to find time for a doctor’s visit. Make self-care part of your stress reducing routine. Take time to take care of your needs and do things you enjoy. It’s not selfish nor impractical to take care of yourself because if you don’t, who will?
Mindfulness is the practice of becoming more focused in the present. Most stress is caused by worrying about the future or the past. We stress over deadlines we must meet at work, bills we need to pay, or situations in the past we wish we could change. But when we let our mind wander to the future or past, we lose sight of what is happening right in front of us.
Ultimately, the only time we have is right now in the present. We cannot change what happened in the past and the future has yet to happen. There is no sense in worrying about either when we can only control what we do now. Mindfulness is a great stress reducing technique because it teaches us to be more aware of our present.
Be more mindful by mentally training your brain to focus your thoughts on the now. Think about what you are feeling, seeing, smelling, and hearing right now. When thoughts of the future or past creep in, push them out. Refocus your attention to the current task at hand and let your stress fall off your shoulders.
Don’t let stress take over your life. Take time for stress reducing activities to live a happier, healthier, and longer life. Everyone must go through difficult situations in life, but it’s how you handle those situations that will determine the quality of your life.