While stress isn’t a bad thing, stress that goes unaddressed can really take a toll on your health. People are constantly looking for ways to reduce stress, how to reduce stress in their lives, or the top stress management techniques. Stress is one of those things that we all experience but seems impossible to rid ourselves of completely. Here are ten things you can start doing today if you want to reduce stress naturally:
10) Practice Yoga
Yoga offers lots of physical benefits including increased flexibility and strength, better muscle tone, improved circulation, healthier skin and even help with insomnia . However, yoga also helps relieve stress by providing an effective outlet for stress and anxiety through meditation, controlled breathing and mindfulness.
9) Adopt a Pet
Having a pet can have many stress relieving benefits for both children and adults.
Pets offer companionship that helps ease stress while also providing structure to someone’s day in the form of feeding or walking schedules. Stress relief is only one benefit that owning a pet can offer though. Pets also provide opportunities for exercise which has been linked with stress relief and better mental health overall (e.g., lower levels of depression). For example, dog owners on average get ten more minutes of exercise per week than non-dog owners . In addition, pets have been known to help people live healthier lives by encouraging them to go outside for walks rather than sitting on the couch all day.
8) Spend Time in Nature
Spending time in nature or even just looking at pictures of nature has a stress relieving effect on us.
A study by the University of Exeter showed that when college students looked at pictures of natural landscapes their stress levels dropped while stress increased when they looked at pictures with urban settings . The stress-reducing benefits may be due to our evolutionary history since we spent much more time outside hunting and gathering rather than stuck inside an office building. It is theorized that people who spend more time looking at natural environments are reminded subconsciously about this history which helps relieve stress.
7) Practice Loving Kindness Meditation
This of meditation involves repeating phrases such as “may all beings be happy” and “may I hold all these creatures throughout the universe in my heart” (for a sample, click here ).
This type of mediation is meant to increase feelings of loving kindness, compassion and empathy for oneself and others . While this type of meditation was not stress relieving when compared to other types of meditation (such as focused attention or open monitoring), it did lead to significantly lower stress levels after practicing the first time.
6) Take Care of Yourself
Self care is important for stress relief because it helps us stay healthy both physically and mentally. Taking the time to recharge yourself by getting enough sleep , exercising or doing things you enjoy can help with stress management. It also means knowing your limits and saying no when you feel like you are taking on too much stress.
5) Learn to Breathe Properly
Proper breathing, or deep breathing, can help relieve stress by triggering the relaxation response in our bodies . Deep breathing provides stress relief by slowing down heart rate and blood pressure while also calming the mind. While most of us have heard of this technique before (take a breath in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold for 2 seconds, release slowly through your mouth), many of us don’t actually know how to practice proper breathing techniques. The stress management site Stress Management Center has an excellent guide that includes several videos showing different types of deep breathing exercises so it is easy to learn proper breathing techniques.
it is especially effective for people suffering from anxiety or those who are under a lot of stress . Three 15 minute sessions per week were shown to reduce cortisol levels and feelings of stress while also increasing memory performance and concentration ability .
Meditation has become popular as stress relief over the years with good reason. There are countless studies showing the stress relieving benefits of meditation including stress reductions from PTSD, slowing down age related memory loss , reducing emotional eating and more . Meditating every day can help reduce stress levels easily since it provides a way to focus your mind on yourself rather
3) Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep is important for stress relief because stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline are elevated when we don’t get enough sleep. Not getting enough sleep can also lead to fatigue which often results in stress, anxiety or irritability due to the lack of energy needed to manage stress. Contrary to popular belief sleeping too much can be a stressor as well (especially for insomniacs). It is recommended that adults get between 7-9 hours of sleep every night while teens need 8-10 hours per night .
2) Get Some Sunlight
Getting outside in natural sunlight helps our bodies produce vitamin D which regulates stress hormones. While vitamin D supplements are an option, they do not provide the same stress-relieving benefits as sunlight exposure does since other stress hormones such as cortisol are also regulated by sun exposure. In addition, getting some natural sunlight can actually boost mood and help regulate sleep patterns which further relieve stress.
1) Exercise Regularly
Exercise relieves stress by promoting the release of feel good endorphins. Exercise also helps your body manage stress by regulating cortisol, as previously mentioned, and stress hormones adrenaline and dopamine . Being active on a regular basis can help you maintain stress relief throughout life; in fact, research from the University of Georgia showed that exercise reduces stress even if the individual doesn’t enjoy exercising. If you don’t like working out alone, try team sports or joining an intramural league to make it more fun.
As a reminder stress management is important so we can live longer healthier lives and may be used with proper attribution.