Stress: this natural fight-or-flight response that increases our blood flow, heart rate, to react quickly to a dangerous situation. How often do you actually find yourself in a real dangerous situation? Many of us have developed chronic stress that can cause great harm to our health in the long run.
Unfortunately, the current events don’t play in favour of the stress and anxiety reduction levels. Luckily, there are many stress relief techniques and activities to help reduce them.
I have always been easily stressed and anxious about pretty much everything, so there are a few things I have learned in the past years. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of activities you can practice daily to reduce your stress level instantly, but also a regular practice will make you more resistant to it.
It’s natural, easily accessible and you don’t need to take any pills! Again, being mindful of your actions is the first step toward holistic wellbeing. Let’s have a closer look at some of the many options!
8 activities to manage stress
Do you really know how to breathe properly?
There are many breathing techniques that can be used for stress-management. Beyond the physiological benefits, these techniques raise your awareness and turn your attention inward. Deep breathing also encourages your body to open up more, sending positive signals to your brain.
Try this technique called “Belly breathing”:
- Sit or lay down, open your shoulder, and take a deep breath through your nose, down to your belly. You can put your hands on your belly and on your chest to notice the movement.
- While your belly should follow your breath, the chest shouldn’t move. Be mindful about your shoulders, don’t shrug them. Keeping your back straight makes it easier.
- Do this exercise for a couple of breaths.
How do you feel?
Immediately linked to the first one, meditating is well know to help release anxiety. Although there is often a misconception, meditation consists of focusing your attention on one thing, be it your breath, a mantra, or a part of your body.
You get to calm the monkey mind by giving it something to focus on. Being mindful simply means putting your attention on the present moment.
When you focus on the present moment, there is no room for negativity nor for anxiety.
3. Going into nature
I only recently realized that looking at or being surrounded by the immensity of nature puts my problems into a different perspective, helping me to bring more clarity.
If you live in an urban area, going out and getting some fresh air is definitely a plus, having a stroll in a park is better of course.
Being in nature helps us relax and feel connected to something bigger than us. A study actually showed that a 20 minutes break into nature reduces the level of stress hormones in our body.
4. Listening to music
Forget about your worries and your negative thoughts. Whether at home or using a headset, distract your mind by playing something you enjoy!
Extra tip: prepare a feel-good playlist so that it’s easily accessible.
Note: I recently experienced how music’s vibration can uplift our mood. There’s nothing new of course, but I did feel my energy rising while I was listening to feel-good music.
This leads us to dance of course (writing those lines I realize that the next point is also naturally connected – don’t look at it – too late? Okay, but bear with me!). So, where was I? Ok, dance!
Play your favorite music on and if you’re at home (or even in the street – why not) get your body to move.
I see you coming … don’t judge yourself! It’s about you and you only. Improvise and have some fun! This activity enhances the mind-body connection.
Did you see that coming?
Moving your body uplifts your mood. Physiologically, exercising makes your brain release happy hormones such as endorphins, dopamines, and the like, making you feel … happier!
Besides this, focusing your mind on something else can also bring some clarity. It happened to me to have an idea to solve an issue causing me stress right after running.
7. Taking a shower or a bath
Hydrotherapy at home!
It’s one of the things I have been doing for as long as I can remember. This is often part of my Sunday evening routine to fight the Sunday blues.
Having a hot bath or shower releases the tension in your muscles and naturally relaxes your body.
Create a cocooning atmosphere to enhance the benefits of this moment: light up a candle, use some bath salts, play some relaxing music on and unwind.
8. Talking to someone
If you have someone you know you can always reach out and talk to when you feel engulfed in stressful thoughts, call that person. Or else, write your thoughts down. It does feel good.
One way or the other – just like crying when you feel sad – express yourself and let the stress go out of your mind.
I found this quote that summarizes this article quite well and that highlights the red line of all the suggested activities above.
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”
– William James
Remember that thoughts create our emotions. By managing our thoughts, we manage to keep a balanced state.
While these activities can help reduce the stress level and/or go back to a normal state of mind, there are some situations where you’re too engulfed that you can’t deal with your emotional pain to get there. The gap is too big.
When this is the case, let the storm pass.
Stress, over a long period of time, has a negative impact on our immune system. Finding your own way to prevent it from arising in the first place is essential to feel happier.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should be stressed about being stressed (please don’t be like me).
Now tell me in comments: what is your stress release trick number 1?