Challenges are a normal part of life, and learning to deal with those challenges is an essential part of the human experience. When you feel that familiar feeling – your adrenaline pumping through your body, your legs twitching, foot tapping and your mind on edge – you know that your stress level has gone through the roof.
There are many stress-relieving practices that you can rely on to work quickly and effectively, easing the tension in your mind and body.
While long term stress-relieving habits are great to add into your normal routines, sometimes you just need a quick way to cool down. First, it’s important to understand if what you’re experiencing is anxiety or stress, or a combination of the two. This will help you find the best ways to cope. Once you determine that it is, in fact, a stressful situation you need to address, try any combination of these ways to de-stress right now:
- Focus on your breathing. Since we now know that breathing influences your body and mind, we understand that the way in which we breathe can either pump us up or calm us down. Being mindful of your inhales and exhales and concentrating on how the breath moves through your body can be a very relaxing practice. There is a wealth of information on top breathing techniques for calming your mind and body, including square breathing and the 4-7-8 method with longer exhales, but the main point is to focus on how the breathing calms your heart rate and gives your mind the space to clear and calm.
- Turn on your favorite playlist. Music can really change a whole mood, affecting our brains in a positive way. Planning ahead with a playlist of your favorite songs will give you a headstart and allow the therapeutic nature of the music you love to work quickly and effectively.
- Get physical. The benefits of exercise have been widely documented, and so it’s probably no surprise that moving your body, whether that means going for a walk, doing some jumping jacks near your desk, or dancing to your favorite song, will play a pivotal role in your de-stressing. Blowing off that steam in a physical way will also release endorphins in your brain, helping dissolve the stress quickly.
- Write down three things you’re grateful for. It’s not always easy to express gratitude, especially during difficult times. But as you train your brain to make this a habit, you’ll begin to see the benefits of doing so. And when you’re in the midst of a stress-inducing situation, writing down or even thinking of the positives in your life can help you appreciate them while gaining perspective.
- Connect with a loved one. Sometimes you just need to vent to a loved one to enjoy stress relief. Humans are hardwired for connection, so think of someone who makes you laugh or someone who will help talk you through your feelings and give them a call.
- Meditate or do yoga. According to the APA, thanks to its combination of physical exercise, stretching, meditation, and deep breathing, yoga is incredible for relieving stress. This is a great way to let go of stressful situations and focus on your body and your mind. Meditation allows you to zero in on a problem while also keeping it at a safe distance, giving you time to process and determine your next steps.
- Get outside. It’s been well-documented that spending time outside in nature and surrounded by green spaces can be great for your mental and physical well-being. Exposure to natural sunlight is a real mood booster, and can provide a sense of calming and well being.
- Try journaling. If you’ve ever felt like holding in your thoughts and feelings through stressful situations has a negative impact on your mental and even physical state, you’re right. However, sometimes we need to confront our own feelings before expressing them to others, and journaling is a great way to do that. Acknowledging our thoughts, feelings, emotions and related actions can reduce the stress and negative impact on our bodies, with a positive result: we feel better.
- Do something you love. Spending a few minutes doing something you love will help you reconnect with yourself and distract your mind from whatever is stressing you out. Sip your favorite tea, whip up a comforting meal, create something, perform your favorite self-care ritual, or browse your favorite shop to get back to yourself and connect with your calm.