Feeling stressed is something everybody deals with, in their life. Stress can be caused by several circumstances, but if and when those circumstances will cause someone to stress can differ from person to person.
Stress is something we can’t avoid, at all times we can experience something stressful.
That’s why dealing with stress and knowing how to relieve it, is something important. Finding ways to relieve stress is an important way of taking care of your mental health.
I will be giving you some ways that can help you to relieve stress, but first I want to look deeper into what stress is.
What is stress?
Stress is a biological reaction of your body on change, a challenge, or a situation that might be dangerous. Stress itself does not have to be bad. It is a reaction from your body to keep you safe and alert.
This is also known as the fight or flight syndrome, which can protect you from danger.
The way it is supposed to work is that your body reacts to the stress, that you ‘handle’ it and then you relax again. In those cases, stress can be seen as a very positive reaction from your body.
But when the stress you experience is an ongoing process or something that happens frequently and you can’t find the way to relax, the stress you experience is unhealthy. This can lead to a condition we call distress.
Distress can lead to several physical and emotional reactions such as stomach ache, headache, muscle tension, depression, and anxiety, and so on.
These are some symptoms of stress:
- Tension in shoulder and neck muscles.
- Upset stomach.
- Not being able to sleep.
Now, if you know when you are stressed and you want to do something about it, I have 7 very effective ways that can help you to reduce your stress.
1. Breathing exercises
Breathing is a normal and automated function of your body. When you are stressed, your breathing pattern can change due to the effect of your hormones.
The change in your breathing pattern can cause you to take shorter breaths and that again can worsen your stress.
It’s a good thing that even though your breathing is an automated function of your body, you can still influence it because breathing exercises can have a relaxing effect on your body.
Breathing exercises can affect your entire body by reducing stress, tension, and help you to relax.
These exercises can help you to breathe calmly and relaxed, which helps your body to calm your nervous system.
Below are two easy breathing exercises you can do to calm down and relieve stress.
The first is very easy.
- You simply need to focus on your breathing.
- Find a place where you can sit or lie comfortably.
- You can place your hand on your belly, just below your ribs.
- Focus on the movement of your belly when taking a deep and slow breath.
- Then calmly breathe out, while constantly focusing on the movement of your belly. Try to keep your upper chest still and let your diaphragm and abdomen do the work.
The second one is called the 4-7-8 breathing exercise.
- Place your hand on your belly.
- Take a deep slow breath with your belly while slowly counting to 4 in your head.
- Feel how your belly is pushing your hand forward.
- Now hold your breath for 7 slow counts.
- After that breathe out for 8 slow counts.
You can repeat both exercises for 3-7 times.
The calm app is a great app that can help you with your breathing exercises.
Reading can effectively help to reduce stress. When you are reading, your mind is placed in a different world than the one we live in.
You can escape from the problems and difficulties around you, by placing yourself in the world of the story.
Of course, it matters what you read, I do prefer a novel or short story because that triggers my imagination.
But it is up to you, maybe you like reading self-help books that focus on mental health, which can also be very helpful. Or a book about your hobby, something that excites you.
Try to prevent reading things that are upsetting, such as the news.
Journaling is an easy and very helpful way to reduce stress.
Journaling can help you to organize your thoughts and clearing your mind. By trying to write down what you’re feeling you can focus on what you’re feeling and take a good look at what is happening inside your head.
It can help you to focus on the present and by gaining this focus you can get clarity of what is happening inside you and around you.
Journaling can also help you to get rid of negative feelings. You can try this by writing down whatever negative feelings you have and afterward burning the paper or tearing it up and throwing it away.
It can also be helpful when trying to solve a problem. By writing down the problem you can have a better view of it and start writing solutions or plans next to it.
Journaling can be as easy as taking a piece of paper and just start writing what you’re feeling, or you can use a notes app on your phone.
Or you can practice a more specific type of journaling by focusing on a specific topic, maybe a skill you want to acquire.
For example, a gratitude journal can help you to show more gratitude and develop a positive mindset.
Drawing or painting can help to relieve stress because, just like journaling, it is something that is an expressive action.
When you are drawing, you are focused on what you are creating, by moving your focus from what is stressing you to what you are creating, you can release some stress and thoughts and feel lighter.
By this, you are clearing your mind, which can help you to think clearer and maybe come up with solutions.
You can also try to express your feelings by drawing what you feel. This can also have the same effect as journaling.
Also, the satisfying feeling of creating something can lift your mood and help you feel proud and happy.
I was going through a difficult time a while ago and the best decision I made back then, was talking to people I trusted, about my feelings.
Talking about the things that are stressing you out can help because of several reasons.
By talking about your feelings the person can help you to see the situation more clearly or look at the problem differently.
The person can help you to come up with a solution.
You can also release a lot of build-up tension by venting what has been going on in your mind and you can also find out that you are not alone.
By talking to someone you can find out if others have been through the same as you.
Sometimes knowing that others have been through the same thing, can relax you and give you a feeling of hope, knowing that you are not alone and that it is possible to get through the situation.
I strongly advise you to talk to someone when you are dealing with something stressful.
Keeping everything to yourself can cause you to see things differently or paint them to be worse than they are. It can also lead you to burst out at an unfortunate moment.
When you decide to talk to someone I do advice to talk to someone you trust, someone like your partner, your best friend, or a close family member.
Sometimes talking to a friend or family member is not enough and advice from a professional is much needed, for example when you don’t feel better and your feelings are getting worse.
Music can have an intense effect on your mind and body. Research at Stanford has shown that rhythmic music can affect brain function.
The type of music you listen to does matter.
When feeling stressed, slow music can help you relax and release stress and build up tension.
Sounds of waterfalls, rivers, nature, birds along with slow jazz or classical music can also be very helpful.
But also upbeat music can help you elevate your mood and give a more positive and optimistic feeling about life or the situation you’re in.
When exercising some changes occur in parts of the brain that regulate stress, anxiety, and hormones that help relieve feelings of depression.
Exercising reduces the stress hormones in your body, hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.
In addition to this, there is also a higher production of endorphins. Endorphins play a role in producing positive feelings and pain perception.
The intensity of your exercise does not matter. Even the simplest form of exercise can help to improve your mood by relaxing your mind and reducing stress.
And those were the 7 ways that can help you to effectively relieve stress. I hope this blog was useful and can help you to get rid of some of that build up tension and stress that you have been carrying around these days.
If you have other ways that you like to relieve your stress, feel free to let me know in the comments.