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How To Effectively Relieve Stress: 10 Strategies That Will Help Calm Your Body & Mind

Unfortunately, try as we may, stress is an inevitable part of life. Stress occurs when your body has to adjust or respond to a change that elicits an emotional response. Stress can be positive, and helpful at times. For instance, stress can motivate you to study for a big test or work harder on a presentation. Although, negative stress can be detrimental to your health. Stress can cause an upset stomach, headaches, lack of sleep, and even illness. Taking care of your body helps take care of your mind. Once your basic needs are covered, stress relief activities can be implemented. Here are 10 tips that can help effectively alleviate stress in day-to-day life:

Short Term Strategies

1. Practice guided imagery and meditation

Guided imagery and meditation are two exercises that force you to relax and focus. You may have heard the phrase “go to your happy place” before, and is one tactic of guided imagery. Imagining yourself listening to waves, sitting on a beach, and feeling the sunshine can help calm you down quickly and effectively. If you need a more immersive experience, try listening to a recording of someone walking you through a peaceful scene, or even the sound of waves alone. This works best with your eyes shut and after a few moments, you feel as though you are there. Meditation is similar, but often utilizes repeating a mantra as you breathe deeply. These practices help to get your mind off of your stressors and focused onto a scene that makes you feel at peace.

2. Exercise often

Physical activity is important to most facets of your life. Getting regular exercise from a walk, fitness class, or the gym can make your mind and body feel so much better. If joining a gym or taking a class sounds interesting to you, this could become a new hobby and relieve stress that way! There are many ways to implement exercise into your routine, and with so many health benefits, it is an imperative part of life.

3. Practice aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is a holistic and fairly simple approach to eliminating negative stress. Research has suggested that certain scents can alter brain wave activity and decrease stress. Lavender, bergamot, and lemongrass can be quite calming and easily used as drops in a diffuser, scented candles, or body products. These techniques can help you to feel more energized, relaxed, and present, without changing much of your daily routine or lifestyle.

4. Get crafty!

Sometimes, the best way to manage stress is to get in touch with your creativity. As adults, there is very little time in the day for coloring, painting, and other creative outlets. If visual art is challenging for you, adult coloring books are particularly trendy. Coloring can be a great stress reliever, and you create something beautiful at the end!

5. Talk to someone

This one may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people forget this option. When you are feeling the effects of negative stress, take a break to engage with a friend and talk it out. Having people in your life that you can talk to about these feelings is crucial. Even if you do not go into detail, telling someone what you are experiencing can be very comforting. Having someone else’s voice rather than your own in your head is a great way to feel present and relaxed.

Long Term Strategies

1. Maintain a balanced diet

The importance of eating well has been drilled into us, and for good reason. A poor diet can directly impact negative stress. ‘Comfort food’ (those that are high-fat, high-sugar) can provide temporary relief, but add to long-term stress. There is nothing wrong with the occasional cookies and potato chips, but they cause a spike in blood sugar that when it crashes, can lead to stress and anxiety. A better diet can improve multiple parts of your life and routine. Consider implementing eggs, avocado, and walnuts into your diet to support mood regulation and energy.

2. Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol

As much as possible, you should limit your consumption of these drugs. Since caffeine and nicotine are stimulants, they work to increase your level of stress rather than reduce it. Alcohol on the other hand is a depressant. Depressants are definitely not productive to managing your stress levels, but alcohol can actually act as a stimulant in smaller quantities. Similarly, this is not productive for stress management. To effectively eliminate possible stressors, swap out those drinks for water, herbal teas, and try to be as hydrated as possible.

3. Get more sleep

As much as you may think, you are likely not getting the correct amount of sleep. A lack of sleep can cause significant negative stress and other health detriments. Although, stress can be known to interrupt sleep as thoughts that impede our relaxation enter the mind. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming to lay in bed and think, but rather than relying on medication, your focus should be on relaxation. Eliminate items in your room that bring on stress. Avoid caffeine at night, as well as excessive alcohol, to ensure that you can get to sleep as quickly and easily as possible. If all else fails, take a relaxing warm bath or try reading a book. Sleep is crucial to your health and wellbeing, so make sure you treat it that way.

4. Practice yoga

Engaging in a consistent practice helps build stability and works to eliminate negative stress. Yoga combines movement with meditation. This practice is both light exercise and controlled breathing, which can be very helpful in relieving stress. You could try one session and feel results, but sticking with it and incorporating it as part of your routine reaps the most benefits. Yoga classes are offered in person, online, and through mobile applications.

5. Make time for rest and leisure activities

In life, we sometimes feel the need to push ourselves and never take a moment for rest and leisure. Actively putting time in your schedule to participate in a hobby, game, or fun is incredibly beneficial to your health. When you feel good, you perform well. So, participating in leisure time can actually make you more efficient in your work. If you are unsure of where to start, try picking up a simple hobby. The point of rest and leisure time is that it is your time. Fill it with whatever makes you feel happiest and most relaxed, because ultimately that is what is most helpful to managing your stress.

All the stress relief activities in the world will not help if you are not taking care of yourself. Self-care is imperative for building resilience toward those stressors in life that you cannot eliminate. Taking the proper steps to care for your body and mind leads you to be able to live your life as best as possible.

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