16 Jul Easy Ways to Reduce Stress Immediately
Today I would like to share some easy ways that you can immediately reduce your stress levels. But first:
If you are trying to heal yourself of some kind of health concern, I am here to tell you this: you can do all the exercise, clean eating and visits to your health care practitioner that you like- but if you don’t address your high stress levels, they WILL get in the way of you feeling better. Stress makes pain worse- it makes everything worse, really!
Here is an example from my own life:
I burned out last year. Most of what occurred was not stressful in isolation, and a lot of it was wonderful. It was all BIG. Everything at once, and no time for rest. The last big event for my year was my wedding, and my goal was to make it there alive!
In the months before my wedding I got sick, and developed a secondary viral skin condition called pityriasis rosea. There isn’t a cure, you just wait it out. I am no stranger to “incurable” skin problems, having struggled in the past with perioral dermatitis. I kept the pityriasis rosea under control in the same way that I addressed the dermatitis- avoiding processed foods, too much wheat and alcohol, and with support from my wonderful Chinese Medicine Doctor. This kept things in check, but when I did drink alcohol or processed foods in the lead up to my wedding, the condition would flare again.
We arrived in Mexico 3 days after our wedding. After bothering me for almost three months, the rash disappeared within the first 24 hours of our holiday. We spent the next five weeks in Mexico and the States indulging in WAY more alcohol, wheat, sugar and processed foods than I would ever have at home. Yet the dermatitis on my face that would usually have shown itself with even a tiny bit of this behavior was nowhere to be seen.
Why not? Because I was rested and relaxed.
Here’s what you can do to feel better right now:
Taking a holiday isn’t always an option. Below are some SIMPLE things that you can do to reduce your stress levels immediately. I came across these suggestions and statistics in Dr. Nat Kringoudis’ talk Debunking Stress. Choose one or two items from this list that appeal to you:
Have a cup of tea.
How easy is this? Drinking a cup of tea can reduce your stress levels by 54%.
Listen to music.
Listening to your favourite music can decrease stress by up to 61%.
Go for a walk.
Taking a walk around the block can reduce your stress levels by 61%. Rather than thinking about how busy and stressed you are, look around you and take in your surroundings.
Research shows that massage can reduce cortisol (stress hormone) levels by 31%. Even a shoulder massage from a friend or your partner can be helpful in lowering your stress levels.
Working 24/7 is not productive. Close down your lap top and step away from the phone!
Have a bath (or a hot shower).
Taking a bath can reduce your stress levels by up to 70%. At the same time it will increase your serotonin levels- serotonin is a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of wellbeing and happiness.
Laughing reduces cortisol levels by 39% as is like a gym session for your insides.
No, not social media! Research shows that having fun with your loved ones and community will not only reduce your stress levels, it will help you to live longer too.
Reading is the quickest way to reduce your stress levels by up to 68%. Make sure that you’re reading something for leisure- reading the news, a textbook, or an email probably isn’t going to cut it!
Our breathing changes when we are stressed. You can settle your nervous system immediately by taking a few moments to focus on breathing deeply.
Regular, moderate intensity exercise.
I have to agree with Nat on the “moderate” part of this one. If someone is very stressed and running on adrenaline, frantic exercise can add more to the mix and make the body and adrenal glands more stressed.
Walking to the shops, gardening, vacuuming..it all helps your body to move.
I have written about the amazing effects of meditation here. You can set a timer on your phone for 5 minutes, sit or lie down and breathe. You can download a guided meditation on your phone, or say a prayer- whatever works for you. The technique Nat uses is called heart coherence technique:
- sit down comfortably and focus on your heart
- think about something that makes you feel good- your partner, your children, pets, the beach- anything.
- focus on this feeling for 2-3 minutes – easy 🙂