At some point in our lives we will experience stress. When stress becomes too much it can impact on our physical health and well-being. Numerous studies and articles have reported the relationship between stress and other health problems, such as:
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
- suppressed immune system
- emotional disorders
- gastrointestinal and skin disorders
In light of this, it is important to have a stress reliever strategy to help you feel in control, positive and hopeful. Here is a list of my 10 favourite stress reduction activities and techniques.
1 Exercise is any activity that raises your heart rate and makes you sweat. Its an effective way to lift your mood, increase energy, sharpen focus and relax. Try to get at least 30 minutes on most days.
2 Mindfulness is the here-and-now approach to living that makes life richer and more meaningful. Its about approaching life with curiosity without passing judgement. Staying present can help promote relaxation and provide a buffer again stress and anxiety. The good news it you can practice mindfulness anywhere. If your outdoors, enjoy the shape of the trees or the colour of flowers. At the shops, look at the details of a dress or examine a piece of jewellery. As long as your can keep your mind focused on something in the present, stress will take a back seat.
3 Breathing exercises provide convenient and simple stress relief in that they can be used anywhere, anytime and work quickly. When you start to feel tension or frustration find a quiet place to sit and put the stressful situation on hold. Take a few deep breaths, feeling your belly, sides and back expand and concentrate on releasing the tension as you exhale.
4 Time management is about prioritising and organising your responsibilities. The best way of gaining control and reduce stress is to prioritise tasks, break large projects into smaller chunks, avoid over-committing, leave earlier in the morning to ease into the day, or take regular breaks to re-charge.
5 Yoga incorporates breathing, meditation and exercise. One session can bring initial stress relief and continued practice can generate ongoing resilience to stress.
6 Humour and the act of laughing releases tension and can bring positive psychological changes. Finding ways to incorporate more laughter into your day can be an effective route to stress relief.
7 Restorative environments have the ability to calm and restore. Generally, such environments include any space which brings you close to nature and water. So get outside an enjoy the scenery.
8 Diet has a large impact on how well stress is managed. A poor diet can bring greater reactivity towards stress, while a healthy diet can bring greater physical health and well-being. Caffeine can make you more reactive to stress, and, if taken late in the day, can impact on sleep patterns. Alcohol may temporarily reduce anxiety and tension however, too much can cause anxiety as it wears off.
9 Sleep has the ability to increase your energy levels and your ability to concentrate. Not only can stress and worry result in insomnia, a lack of sleep can leave you vulnerable to even more stress. When your well rested it is easier to keep your emotional balance, a key factor in coping with stress.
10 Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique that allows you to relax all of the muscles in your body, group by group. Beginning sessions can take several minutes, and allow you to feel physically and emotionally relaxed when done.
What are your personal stress reliever strategies?