Life can be pretty stressful. Right now, as you read this, try relaxing your jaw, drop your shoulders. Breathe.
Bet you didn’t know just how tensed up you were, did you?
If stress is getting to you, it is important to take the time to relax. According to science daily, heavy stress can shorten a life expectancy by 2.8 years. It can also make your day to day pretty unpleasant, mess with your sleep and cause you to be pretty miserable.
It could be your job, your home life or your hormones causing your back to tighten and jaw to tense up. Whatever it is, we’re going to give you some stress management tactics to help you feel calmer and approach situations without a stress head.
I went to a 2 hour yoga workshop on relaxation techniques which taught us how to deal with different situations, just using our breath. It was a really powerful afternoon. So powerful that the final breathing task left me asleep on a village hall floor.
When you are stressed your breathing will be shallow and quick. We want to try and lengthen the breath to reduce stress. When you breathe deeply it triggers neurons in the brain to help you calm down. You get out of the fight or flight mode and into a sense of calm.
Try this right now.
- Breathe in for 4
- Hold for 4
- Breathe out for 8
Do this 8 times and see how you feel. At first, you might not be able to get to the 8 seconds out, that is fine. Keep practicing lengthening the breath and eventually you will get there.
Do a body scan
You probably can’t do this if you are at work, or maybe you could find a quiet meeting room. But here the idea is to lie flat on your back and really focus on your body parts. You could also do it seated if you are in the office, I guess.
You can either start with your toes and work your way up, or start at your forehead and work your way down. Think about relaxing each muscle in your toes, the arches of your feet, your calfs, your thighs etc.
This, paired with deep breathing can really help reduce stress.
Sometimes, when I am feeling stressed or upset I feel the urge to move my body. Exert some of the adrenaline and just ‘clear my head’.
To do this I find a run with some ‘happy pop hits’ in my headphones really helps. Sometimes I find myself listening to ACDC and pounding the road in my running shoes, this helps too. But afterwards, you will want to do your breathing exercises as you stretch off, to help reduce your cortisol levels which exercise can rise.
Talk to someone
There is nothing quite like a good rant to your best friend to reduce stress. When something is stressing me out I get on a voice note to my sister and offload. I don’t always need a reply, I just need to get it off my chest.
Talking to people or even yourself about what is stressing you out can really help. Studies have confirmed this. It helps you get some perspective. If you’ve not got anyone who could possibly understand the situation, try writing it down in a diary.
A problem shared, is a problem halved. It really is true.
A dose of CBD oil in your day may help you to feel a sense of calm. You can add it to your morning routine, or squeeze a dropper in your hot choc or chamomile tea in the evening.
Seated on a chair, or standing, put both of your feet on the floor. Take a breath and think about your connection with the Earth. How does it feel beneath your feet? Just sitting calmly and thoughtfully can reduce stress. This home remedy is free and feels fantasic.
Scream into the fridge
Okay, I’m joking here. Kind of. But screaming into a pillow or kitchen appliance may well help you to let go of some of the stress you are feeling. It can be very therapeutic. There have been studies on this.
So next time you feel anger and stress brewing, open the fridge, have a shout, then grab a snack – of chocolate if possible.
If you’re stressed there are foods you can eat to help relieve the stress. Being hungry also causes hanger. Not an ideal combo.
Healthline suggest the following stress busting foods:
- Sweet potato
- Swish chard
- Organ meats (if that’s your bag…)
- Sunflower seeds
There you have 7 ways to reduce stress, naturally. By reducing your stress levels you should feel happier, calmer and research suggests live longer.
So go running, breathe, scream into the fridge and eat some shellfish. You’ll be a picture of calm in no time.