I get asked all the time, “Taylor, what are some quick and easy ways to relieve stress?” When you’re working full-time, taking care of a family, working your way through school, or doing some other time-consuming thing, you don’t always have the luxury of taking a “me day” (although I do recommend you take one every now and again), so quick and easy ways to relieve stress are crucial.
There are tons of ways to relieve a bit of your everyday stress without putting in a lot of time, effort, or money. Below I’ll discuss a few of my favorites that can work for pretty much everyone. Let’s get started!
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There’s a reason people always say this to you when you’re upset… It works. The main characteristics of relaxation include a slower metabolism, relaxed muscles, lower heart rate, and slower breathing.
When you’re stressed out, your breathing can be fast and erratic. This tells your body that the threat hasn’t passed and you need to keep on high alert. This is fine if you’re fighting a tiger, but when you’re getting stressed about an assignment and there is no imminent threat, it’s not great.
Next time you feel yourself getting stressed out do some breathing exercises. If you force your breathing to become slow and deep, your body will get the hint that you want it to chill out.
The key to this is focusing all of your thoughts on your breathing, whether that be saying, “in” and “out,” or counting the seconds our breath in and again when you breath out. If you’re a real breathing exercise pro, you can let you mind go blank and just let your breathing take over.
However you do it, it’s important not to let your mind wander. If your mind stays on what is stressing you out, you’re not going to be able to calm down.
Stand Up and Stretch
Ya gotta love a good stretch. It just feels so satisfying! That’s because when you stretch, you relieve muscle tension built up over time by stress. When you relieve that muscle tension you feel, whether in your neck, your back, or elsewhere, you’re sending a message to the body that you want it to relax.
Stretching also helps to improve circulation, bringing more oxygen to the muscles and decreasing the amount of waste byproducts in the body. The better the blood flow throughout your body, the better you’ll feel.
Take a Walk
Trying to push through the stress is one of the worst things you can do. You’re only serving to add more stress and decrease your productivity even more.
One of my favorite things to do when I start to get really stressed out is taking a walk. Sometimes that means just getting up and walking down the hall or taking a lap around my family room.
Other times, I actually go outside and take a short walk. The sun and fresh air are added stress relievers.
On my walk, I do my best not to perseverate about whatever it is that’s causing me stress. I try really hard to be completely present in the moment. I focus on the things that I can hear, see, smell, and feel. Just like when you breath, and even when you stretch, it’s important to bring your thoughts away from what is stressing you out.
Whether you’re walking away from whatever it is that’s causing you stress in that moment, or you’re just taking a walk to clear your head, you will find relief in that walk.
Close Your Eyes
This one is especially good for those that can paint pictures with their minds.
The goal is to close your eyes and picture your “happy place.” For me, it’s looking out over the lake from the deck of the Pocono house my family used to rent when I was a kid. I close my eyes and try to picture every little detail of that view.
This technique brings your focus away from what is stressful and places it on something that is happy and calming. You can pair this with your deep breathing for an even more effective stress reliever.
Grab Your Thinking Putty
If you’re totally stuck and you can’t stop what you’re doing for even a second, grab your thinking putty. This will help bring your body back to sensory homeostasis.
When you experience stress, your body tenses up. The goal of squeezing something like thinking putty or a stress ball is to encourage your body to tense up like it wants to, and then release that tension. Without this intentional tension and release, your body will likely just tense and hold, causing you to keep feeling stressed.
So, next time you’re stressed, grab your thinking putty and start squeezing!
If you have a favorite quick and easy way to relieve stress, let us know by commenting below!