“Stress is not what happens to us. It’s our response to what happens. And response is something we can choose.”
1. Deep Breathing
You have probably been told before to take a deep breath in a stressful situation, and it was definitely for good reason! Deep breathing helps increase oxygen supply to the brain and calms the nervous system.
How to do it:
- Sit comfortably with your back straight. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
- Breathe in through your nose (the hand on your stomach should rise and the hand on your chest should move very little).
- Exhale through your mouth, pushing out as much air as you can while contracting your abdominal muscles (the hand on your stomach should move in as you exhale).
- Continue this pattern as needed until you feel more at ease.
Meditation is done to put you in a state of ‘thoughtless awareness,’ where the excessive stress-producing activity of the mind is neutralized without reducing alertness. Try using freemeditation.com for some great meditation resources.
Guided meditation is led by someone else, either through video/audio or in person, rather than being self-directed like regular meditation. This method is great because the narration helps keep your mind in a calm place instead of wandering. YouTube is a great resource for giving guided meditation a try!
No matter who you pray to, prayer is amazing for reducing stress and helping you feel relief. By praying about our stresses and worries, we’re lifting them up to someone who can take the burden off our shoulders. It gives us someone to depend on to help us make it through any challenge we may face.
Exercise can be an amazing tool for reducing stress. There are plenty of different types of exercise—yoga, weight training, walking, running, swimming, group sports, etc. Any physical activity that gets your mind off of the stresses of the day is perfect. The endorphins released after exercising cause you to be in a better mood! Try a form of exercise you have never done before to keep it exciting and beneficial.
Art can be useful for relieving stress because it acts as a distraction from what’s causing your stress and helps clear your mind. Art can also be used to draw out your emotions if you struggle to express your stresses verbally. Coloring is also a great stress reliever, and there are many coloring books available that are made for adults.
6. Organizing & Prioritizing
Clearing your desk of clutter, sorting through junk you don’t need in your home, and using a planner are tremendous ways to decrease stress in everyday life. Getting organized helps you stay calm and gives you a sense of peace. Having a planner to write down all your tasks, appointments, and anything else on your to-do list helps ease anxiety. Making a list of priorities and crossing them out as they’re completed is therapeutic as well!
Writing your thoughts with pen and paper reduces stress by helping you view your stress from a different angle, find new solutions to problems, and put your stressors into perspective.
Philosopher and psychologist William James once said, “If you can change your mind, you can change your life,” and journaling can help you do just that. Writing about the ups and downs of your daily life can help you gain perspective on your experiences and find lessons in them. Keeping a journal is a constant and clear way to remind yourself that YOU, and nobody else, are the author of your life story.
Other ways to reduce stress
Laughing is one of the best ways to reduce stress, so find what makes you laugh and incorporate it into your everyday life.
You can also get a massage, talk to a friend, listen to music, spend time with animals or in nature, play games with loved ones, get some sunshine, and take a vacation.