Top 10 Stress Relievers to Try During This Busy Season

December 8, 2011  |  
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Just after the newborn stage of life, everyone starts to feel stress inch it’s way into their lives. In school, it is the stress of a big test, pimples and finding a prom date. In college, it’s about the big test, dates and getting a decent job after graduation. And while at the time it all seems very stressful, it is just the beginning. It isn’t until you get a job, start earning your own way and, eventually, supporting a family and moving up the career ladder, that you not only get to know stress, but stress moves right in, takes your favorite chair and even raids your refrigerator in the middle of the night.  So how can you handle it all?  Take a look at these proven stress relievers and give yourself a 10-minute break to relax and learn how to de-stress.

1. Avoid drinking, smoking

One of the most common and easiest stress relievers is alcohol. While many people truly enjoy a fine glass of wine with a fine meal, or a special event may call for a glass or two of champagne, most people consume alcohol after work either as a way to unwind or as a social tool. Excessive consumption, of course, can lead to health and, in many cases, domestic problems. Similarly, to many people regardless of age or income, legal and illegal drugs as well as cigarettes are an all too prevalent and dangerous way of dealing with stress in the short term. Drinking and smoking to excess is not the only potentially harmful way of coping with stress. Many people also find relief in over-eating, trying to numb their anxiety with too much ice cream or smother it in cheese sauce.  It’s very important to stay healthy in times of stress and make good choices when it comes to eating and drinking.  If this part of your life is not in control, managing your stress will be almost impossible.

2. Keep a Journal

Maybe you were on the right track when you were a little girl, vigorously jotting down anything and everything in your hot pink diary.  Journaling is a term coined for the practice of keeping a diary or journal that explores thoughts and feelings about all aspects of your life.  Journaling, as a stress management and self-exploration tool, is not the same as simply recording events, such as keeping a log. To be most helpful, write in detail about feelings related to stressful events, as if you are in therapy.  Journaling allows people to clarify their thoughts and feelings, thereby gaining valuable self-knowledge. It’s also a good problem-solving tool and can be used to hash out a problem and come up with solutions, which can happen more easily when on paper.

3. Breathing Exercises

WOOSA! Deep breathing is an easy stress reliever that has many benefits for the body, including oxygenating the blood, which ‘wakes up’ the brain, relaxing muscles and quieting the mind. Breathing exercises are especially helpful because you can do them anywhere, and they work quickly so you can de-stress in a flash. Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. This is because when you breathe deeply it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body. Those things that happen when you are stressed, such as increased heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure, all decrease as you breathe deeply to relax.

4. Exercise

Many people exercise to control weight and get in better physical condition to become more healthy or physically attractive, but exercise and stress management are also closely linked, of course. Exercise provides a distraction from stressful situations, as well as an outlet for frustrations, and gives you a lift with a surge of endorphins as well.  Whether it’s a walk around the park, or signing up for your city’s local 5K, do something physical and set goals for you, and your body. You’ll do big things and get rid of big stress at the same time.

5. Meditation

Meditation builds on deep breathing, and takes it a step further. When you meditate, your brain enters an area of functioning that’s similar to sleep, but carries some added benefits you can’t achieve as well in any other state, including the release of certain hormones that promote health. Also, the mental focus on nothingness keeps your mind from working overtime and increasing your stress level. Give yourself 10 minutes, either in the morning or at night before bed, to sit and calmly let your thoughts fade and mind relax.  Relax the muscles in your face and clear your brain.  Some people prefer to sit cross-legged or sitting back on their calves, while others like to lie on their back with arms to their sides.  Find a position that is comfortable for you and reap the benefits of an amazing stress reliever.

6. Yoga

Yoga is one of the oldest self-improvement practices around, dating back over five thousand years. It combines the practices of several other stress management techniques such as breathing, meditation, imagery and movement, giving you a lot of benefit for the amount of time and energy required. Yoga helps strengthen, elongate and tone every muscle group in your body… sounds great right!?  It’s not necessarily a sweaty practice, which keeps some people from experimenting with yoga.  However, the idea of “isometric” plays off of the fact that holding a certain position, or pose, is actually just as beneficial if not more beneficial to your muscles as lifting weights in repetition.  Give one class a try and more likely than not you’ll be sore the next day, and first in line for the next class. Laughter yoga is also offered in some places, helping you lighten up your mood but also get some get movement going. And who knows, all that laughing just might start toning up those abs!

7. Self-hypnosis

Self-hypnosis helps enable you to communicate directly to your subconscious mind to enhance your abilities, more easily give up bad habits, feel less pain, more effectively develop healthier habits, and even find answers to questions that may not be clear to your waking mind. It takes some practice and training, but is well worth it. Learn more about using hypnosis to manage stress in your life here.

8. Sex

You probably already know that sex is a great tension reliever, but have you officially thought of it as a stress-relieving practice? Perhaps you should. The physical benefits of sex are numerous, and most of them work very well toward relieving stress. Sadly, many people have less sex when their stress levels are high. It’s pretty safe to say that the man in your life would love to help you out with this one! Ease your mind and get some behind!

9. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

By tensing and relaxing all the muscle groups in your body, you can relieve tension and feel much more chill in minutes.  Start by tensing all the muscles in your face, holding a tight grimace ten seconds, then completely relaxing for ten seconds. Repeat this with your neck, followed by your shoulders, etc. You can do this anywhere, and as you practice, you will find you can relax more quickly and easily, reducing tension as quickly as it starts.  Tense then release your muscle groups traveling down the body, ending with your feet and toe muscles.

10.  Music

Music therapy has shown numerous health benefits for people with conditions ranging from mild issues, such as stress, to severe ones, such as cancer.  When dealing with stress, the right music can actually lower your blood pressure, relax your body and calm your mind, especially slow, quiet classical music. So you might want to save that throwback Lil Jon for another time.

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