I’ve always been known as someone who’s perma-stressed: for whatever reason, my body reacts to everything (even relaxing!) with a sense of urgency. The usual tips offered to reduce stress have never worked for me. It wasn’t until I started searching for unconventional methods that I struck gold: I’m now finally able to successfully reduce my stress level and enjoy guilt-free relaxation.

Here are 10 unconventional ways to reduce stress that work for me, and I hope you find they work for you too:

1. Massage your ears.

Massaging your ears to reduce stress is simple, effective, and only takes a few minutes. Gently rub your earlobes with your thumb and index finger, then squeeze the outer edges of your ears from bottom to top. These parts of your ears have reflex points that relax specific areas of your body.

2. Up your intake of vitamin C.

Studies have shown vitamin C reduces both the physical and psychological effects of stress. During uber-stressful times, increase your vitamin C intake.

3. Consider your mind a bus terminal.

When your mind is feeling restless and you’re struggling to calm down, it’s important to find techniques that help you successfully disengage with your thoughts. One that works for me is pretending each thought I’m having is a bus with a sign showing a particular destination: do I really want my emotions to go where that bus is going to take them? If not, I watch it drive away.

4. Mask jarring sounds.

If you live in a noisy building or on a bustling street, the constant noise keeps your mind active and on guard, which also leads to physical stress. Put some soothing music on in the background, or try a white noise machine, which emits a consistent, soothing sound. Ear plugs work, too.

5. Surround yourself with calming colors and scents.

Colors such as white, blue, green, and other soft colors will help sooth your nervous system, whereas bright colors like orange and yellow will stimulate and energize you. Create a corner of your home specifically for relaxation. Surround yourself with colors, scents (such as lavender, jasmine, and rose), and items that trigger emotional harmony.

6. Eat slower.

Not only does it aid healthy digestion, but eating slowly also encourages mindfulness. This is a very challenging habit to develop, especially in a society where we’re constantly bombarded with restless thoughts and feelings of urgency. If all else fails, pretend you’re a restaurant critic who has to review the quality of your meal.

7. Talk slower.

How do you feel after going on a tangent and talking really fast? Likely, your heart’s racing, your body’s tense and your breathing’s shallow. The next time you’re having a conversation, practice mindfulness: focus on the moment-to-moment banter instead of rushing to the next topic. Once this becomes second nature, you’ll find your conversations much more rewarding, and you’ll feel physically and emotionally balanced.

8. Schedule unscheduled time.

Carve out mini-retreats for yourself at least twice a week: a few hours of unscheduled time where you can do what you’re compelled to do, not what you feel you have to do. It’s a great way to allow your body and mind to recover from a stressful work week or hectic social gathering. During this time, do whatever you feel like doing in the moment, guilt-free.

9. Learn how to say no.

We’ve all been there: we automatically say yes to an invitation or request while our stomach screams, “No!” If in the moment you’re feeling overwhelmed and aren’t sure what to say, simply say, “I’ll have to get back to you.” This will give you time to make an informed decision that truly benefits your life. If you know you definitely don’t want to say yes, say no as quickly as you’d rip off a band-aid. Trust me: it gets easier, and the more you do it, the more others will respect your boundaries.

10. Cry your fool head off.

Sometimes we want to cry, but the timing’s not right: either we’re at work or socializing, and by the time we’re alone the feeling has passed. I highly encourage you to watch a sad scene on a television show or in a movie to force your emotions back to the surface. When your manganese level is high, it causes anxiety, nervousness, irritability and aggression. When you cry, you lower your manganese level, elevating your mood and lowering stress.

What methods do you use to reduce stress?

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Featured photo credit: Man with neck and back pain injuryvia Shutterstock

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