“I promise you nothing is as chaotic as it seems. Nothing is worth diminishing your health. Nothing is worth poisoning yourself into stress, anxiety, and fear.” – Steve Maraboli
I am one of those people that gets stressed easily, no matter what the circumstance is. Even when I try to make situations as calm and peaceful as possible, there are times when, no matter how much I’ve planned, stress and anxiety overcomes me. In attempt to alleviate future stressful situations, I constantly try to find mechanism to help me cope. In fact, those close to me would be well aware that I am the queen of to-do lists, reminders, diary entries and setting alarms to remind me to do things – yes, I am crazy! Yet, even when I try my best to reduce stressful situations, life creeps up behind me and reminds me that even I, cannot prepare for everything. It’s surprising how not only extensive events and situations can intensify stress, but also the small, everyday things.
Being a casual employee, I do not have the luxury to regularly see a psychologist, get a spa treatment or go to a yoga retreat every time I get stressed. And being a university student who works as much possible, interns and blogs regularly (plus needs to fit in time for a boyfriend and friends), it can be difficult to find the extra time to de-stress. So, if I can find a few small, simple ways to reduce stress, then I am all for trying them and sharing them with you too.
Although it feels, at times, as though you have no control over your life and emotions, there are ways you can deal with these stressful situations. In fact, it is the simple realisation of being able to control stress, that gives you the power to overcome any pressure and anxiety. So today, in attempt to manage stress, I will provide you with coping strategies to help make life that little bit easier.
Meditation is a great form of stress release that not only helps us to relax, but teaches the brain to stress less in future situations. Research suggests that, if used daily, it can alter the brains neural pathways, resulting in further resilience. In fact, studies concluded that not only was it useful for stress, but also helped alleviate a variety of psychiatric symptoms and in some cases, was used to help control pain. Check out Live the Life you Love for some great tips and links to popular YouTube videos that can be accessed for free.
2. Breathe Deeply
I know this sounds simple, but taking 5 minutes out of your day to focus on your breathing can have many positive impacts. In fact, the Harvard Medical School states that deep breathing helps prevent many psychological, stress related symptoms. In order to reap the best results, ensure that you are standing up straight, your eyes are closed and your hand is on your stomach. Inhale slowly through your nose allowing the air to move from the bottom of your abdomen to your mouth and then slowly exhale.
3. Take a Bath
Since we all know how relaxing a bubble bath can be, there is no question as to why it makes the list. In fact, experts say that the reason baths are so soothing, is because it reminds us of our mother’s womb – both cool and creepy. Add some scented oils, a bath bomb and/or some candles, and your well on your way to a relaxing night.
4. Practice Yoga
Similar to meditation, yoga inspires relaxation through techniques. Combining both exercise and meditation, this method is a great option for those wishing to encourage calmness whilst strengthening and stretching their muscles. In fact, research suggests that yoga supresses the stress response and helps to improve your mood. For those wishing to practice in the comfort of their own home, check out some great yoga YouTubers for tips on how to practice yoga.
5. Chew Gum
Okay, this one sounds strange, but it is a proven technique used to reduce stress. A study completed by Swinburne University, found that those who chewed gum whilst undergoing stressful situations, experienced reduced stress, anxiety, cortisol levels and an increase in attentiveness and performance. In fact, other studies have found that chewing gum not only reduces stress, but also alleviates negative moods.
6. Get a Massage
If you didn’t already have enough reasons to get a massage, now you have another! In a study provided by the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine, it was found that a massage of at least 45 minutes helped reduce anxiety, stress and blood pressure. Not only does it help to relax you but also aids in the production of endorphins, serotonin and dopamine, leading to a healthier and happier you.
Exercise is not only great for your physical health, but also your metal health. Professor of Psychology, Michael Otto, affirms that there is a strong link between exercise and an individual’s mood. Not only does it help to alleviate stress, but has a long-term effect that can help ease depression. Thus, various studies conclude that the more exercise you do (high-intensity is best), the happier you are. So, not only will exercise make you look great, but it will make you feel great.
8. Spend time with animals
Being a lover of animals, this is a great option for me! Having a pet helps to reduce stress and improve your moods. In fact, a study completed by Virginia Commonwealth University found that employees who were allowed to interact with animals in their workplace, had a reduced level of stress and an increase in satisfaction. In fact, several studies indicate that dog owners in general, stress less than those without a dog. For those unlucky individuals without a pet, (like me, who must go home to Mackay to see my mum’s pets) there are volunteer positions available at animal shelters, cat café’s that let you interact with the cats or even consider spending time at a zoo, wildlife park or animal farm.
9. Listen to music
For me, one of the things that calms me down the most, is music. Because music has a unique link to our emotions, it can be a useful tool to help alleviate stress. In fact, several studies suggest that listening to music has an even greater impact on your mental health than prescription medication. Not only does it aid in lowering blood pressure, your pulse and heart rate but also decreases stress and anxiety. The best music to listen to when stressed, is soft, low pitched music, that would easily classify as relaxing.
10. Have Sex
If you didn’t have enough reasons to have sex, there is now another to add to your list. A study completed by Cornell University, found that single students who had more casual sex, were overall happier and less stressed than if they had no casual sex. In fact, the study concluded that having casual sex once a week left individuals feeling largely happier than they had previously been when having no sex. But, while the facts are true, researchers also concluded that the risks of having constant, casual sex must also be considered, as there was a large increase of contracting an STI.
I hope you have enjoyed this week’s blog post highlighting various ways to deal with stress. Hopefully I have provided you with some great tips to increase your happiness and well-being and reduce your stress and anxiety.
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Thanks so much!