In today’s hyper-competitive and busy world, where global urbanization and technology have become an integral part of our lives, we all lead incredibly stressful lives. Stress has become an unavoidable part of our daily routine and it keeps on building up for a variety of reasons, including never-ending bills, unemployment or unsatisfying jobs, finances, relationship issues, and a whole other set of problems we face daily.
It has become harder to buffer ourselves from the world, so we need to dial it back a notch and treat ourselves with some peace and quiet from time to time. In order for us to achieve that, we need to reorganize our lives, set priorities and not allow the days to merge into one another, filled merely with work and obligations.
When stress becomes overwhelming, it can impact our mood and our productivity, but most importantly, it can affect our physical and mental health. Not only can it weaken our immune system and cause anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure, and muscle pain, but it can also lead to major illnesses such as depression and heart disease.
The good news is that it is manageable and can be reduced, or even relieved completely. There are steps you can take to reduce stress and alleviate even just a bit of the discomfort.
1. Enter the enchanting world of books
Feeling stressed out? Pick up your favorite book and leave reality and worries behind. Curling up with a good book can boost your mind and well-being. It is the most effective way to relax and overcome stress. Reading may also help you sleep better. Getting lost in a book before bedtime can calm your mind and prepare your body for a good night’s sleep.
Books can also help ease depression. So, if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by your job or your everyday house chores, take that book, sit back in your most comfortable chair, and enter the world of magic. Read about the ancient Roman Empire, the myths and legends of the Greek gods, the stories about faraway lands and kingdoms of fantasy worlds, the classics that shaped the face of world literature – anything that lifts your spirits and makes you forget all about the source of your stress.
The pace of the modern life is making it extremely difficult for us to switch off, so a little time away from home can serve as a therapy session and help unwind the mind. Travel somewhere you’ve never been before. Meet new cultures, explore new lands, and go see some ancient sights for the first time. Try new food, meet new people, and get out of your comfort zone.
However, if you have a favorite place you’ve been to, enjoyed a lot and would like to visit again, travel there. Why not? Familiarity with the place can bring tranquility and help you relax even more. After you’ve recharged your batteries on a vacation, you won’t be stressed out and everyday life will be much more fun than usual.
3. Go camping
If you’re not in a position to travel somewhere far, don’t worry. Find yourself a place near your home, where you can set up a camp and tune your senses to nature. Embrace the wilderness, light a camp fire, set up a barbecue, and enjoy all the colors of the natural world. Tune out of all the technological distractions and leave the digital world behind – it will still be there when you return home. The reception probably won’t be good anyway, so by turning everything off you rid yourself of the only thing you would be stressing over during camping.
Unplugging from the tech world can be extremely pleasant, if you’re willing to try it. One of the best parts of being outdoors is the sound of nature. The chirping of the birds, the sound of the stream flowing, or the rustling of the leaves on the ground can all help you relax and connect with nature. Leaving a campsite for a brief walk in the woods, or by the nearest river or a lake, can also help you become one with nature and find your inner peace.
4. Walk it off
You can also effectively relieve yourself of stress by simply taking a walk through your neighborhood. When you’re filled with negative emotions, walking can be one of the best cures you can get. It can have a positive effect on your mood and mental health, and it can be a very powerful stress reducer. Taking your daily walks can lead to a much healthier life, since it reduces stress, helps with depression, and improves your mood. Take a leisurely stroll through the streets or go to the park.
As you walk, remember to look up. There’s a whole new world up there that you never seem to notice while rushing to go to work or talking to someone. Take a moment to admire a new building or a balcony somewhere high up that reminds you of a castle from your favorite movie. Visit a museum or a gallery and fall in love with a piece of art. Enjoy your time alone and seize every moment of it. You will feel better than ever.
5. Play that funky music
It comes as no surprise that music can reduce stress, right? There’s no doubt that listening to your favorite music can instantly put you in a great mood. This is because music has an impact both on the part of the brain controlling emotions and the part controlling blood pressure. Therefore, when your brain recognizes slow rhythms, your blood pressure slows down. It is believed that classical music is the most effective one when it comes to reducing stress levels, but you can achieve the same goal by simply listening to whatever appeals to you and soothes you the most.
Put on some good music while reading and enjoy a whole new experience. Turn up the volume while doing your chores and make it all more fun and interesting. If you like listening to music while taking your daily walks, create a playlist on your phone, put headphones on, press play, and escape to the outside world.
6. Indulge in physical activity
Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym and lifting a set of weights. Simply stretching your muscles in the morning or taking a walk can offer you immediate relief from stress. Walking to the nearest restaurant during a break at work can also do the trick. Physical activity is the best way to instantly get your body to release endorphins and positively affect your mood. Jogging outdoors can make you much happier than working out inside of a gym or your home, since nature and fresh air have a greater effect on your emotions. Adopting a few good habits will help you dramatically change your body over time, and it’s never too late to start.
Listening to music during your workout can improve your mood and motivate you to exercise even harder. Once you get in the habit of being physically active, start incorporating more challenging exercises into your daily routine. You can always go for a run or a bicycle ride, or take aerobic classes or go swimming. The choice is yours – either way, it’s the healthiest thing you’ll ever do.
For thousands of years people have used meditation for different reasons. Nowadays, it is primarily used as a stress reliever, and an effective one at that. When you start meditating, the process immediately decreases blood pressure and the production of stress hormones, particularly if you combine it with calm music and relaxing essential oils, leaving you with far less stress and anxiety than you started with. The more you meditate, the less stressed you are.
Meditation isn’t necessarily sitting in a particular way and adopting a special pose. You can actually do it anywhere quiet and any time you want. Yoga and meditation can improve the quality of your life by allowing you to simply pull the plug on the world around you and let your whole body relax. Try it at home or somewhere out in the open, and you will be absolutely amazed at how quickly you will be relieved of all the stress and negative energy inside you.
8. Find a hobby
Hobbies are also a great way to reduce stress. You can take anything you like and feel passionate about and make it your hobby. What could be more fun? Choose anything you’re interested in and start doing it in your free time. Your hobby could be reading books, or even writing one. Why not? If you’re a creative person, maybe you’ll end up writing for a living and become one of those rare lucky ones who do what they love and get paid for it.
If you like painting, you can bring some canvas to life. If photography is your beloved, you can try and capture all the unforgettable moments with your family and friends and make some everlasting memories. You get the point. You can do pretty much anything that makes you happy and in the moment you start doing that, you will instantaneously feel better.
9. Get a pet
If you’ve ever owned a pet, you are already familiar with all the benefits pets come with. Not only is playing with them fun, but it can also improve your emotional, mental, and physical health. Apart from the fact that cuddling with a pet reduces overall stress levels, it can actually lower the risk of a heart attack and decrease blood pressure. Pets provide companionship, so say goodbye to the feeling of loneliness and embrace the joy and happiness they bring.
Dogs in particular can best reduce stress and anxiety and become your most loyal friends since they are attuned to human’s emotions and can understand your feelings and emotional state. However, if you’re not a dog person, pretty much any pet you can have will elevate your levels of serotonin and dopamine and thus calm you both physically and emotionally. Caring for a pet will lift your spirits and fill you with joy, and you will receive all of the unconditional love you can get.
10. Connect with people
Another way to successfully beat stress is meeting with friends. Friends and loved ones are important to any healthy lifestyle. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed and just can’t seem to shake it off, call your best friend or a member of your family and talk to them. The conversation with a close person will immediately make you feel better.
Meet them for a drink or a walk through the park, go to the movies together or hit the dance floor. The list is endless. Friends are the best therapy there is and you will enjoy every moment with them no matter where you are. So pick up a phone, call your friend and see how everything is put to perspective once you hear a reassuring voice on the other end of the line.
11. Laugh it off
Nothing brings you back on track like a good old laughter. It is the most powerful antidote to stress and it brings joy into your life. Laughter can boost your energy, strengthen your immune system, and, since it lowers stress hormones and triggers the release of endorphins, it can fill you with happiness. Laughing brings people together and drives away all stress-related problems as if they never existed.
It is absolutely the best medicine there is, and it will keep you both physically and emotionally healthy. Another important thing is that it’s contagious and leads to a longer life. So, don’t forget to smile today and the whole world will smile with you!
We all manage stress differently and although it may seem sometimes as if the whole world is on your shoulders and the walls are closing in around you because of the immense feeling of anxiety, you need to simply take a deep breath and use some of the aforementioned tips to successfully shake off that feeling. Take control over stress and take care of yourself. Take charge of every stressful situation and deal with it with a smile on your face. Don’t forget to nurture yourself. Make time for fun and relaxation and head on the road to your stress-free mind palace. If you’re reading this, you’re already halfway there.