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Complete Guide: How To Relieve Stress Naturally And Fast

Complete Guide: How To Relieve Stress Naturally And Fast

Suffering from stress can be an almighty strain on ourselves both mentally and physically. It depletes a person’s quality of life and affects those around them. In a world where we are told to have it all, no one necessarily tells us how to cope with it. Stress can come from many sources whether it’s feeling too much pressure, experiencing a sudden loss or gain and not knowing how to deal with it, a change in circumstances or just generated from general anxiety disorders. How people deal with stress is very individual but the main symptoms are usually sickness, fatigue, mood swings and, if prolonged, can develop into forms of depression.

Stress management is really important to keep these feelings in check. You may not fully get rid of it but there are definitely ways to relieve stress and keep it under a certain control. What type of coping strategies you use are crucial as what you may think are healthy ways to relieve stress are unhealthy in the long run. Turning to excessive drink, recreational drugs and prescription drugs are obviously going to be detrimental to your overall health but things like sleeping too much, watching TV for excessive periods, projecting your stress onto others by lashing out are all common actions we take when suffering from stress. However, when dealing with stress we need to be proactive in fighting it rather than letting it take over.

Stage 1: Identifying the Cause of Your Stress

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    Stress can be so common that people can live their lives accepting it – they feel it so often that it’s just become a part of their life and they are unable to know how to cope with it. This is when the unhealthy coping strategies like drinking too much or constantly taking it out on other people can come into play. It’s common to stress over many things but it’s key to keep your anxiety focused on real, immediate issues, and tune out imagined ones or those over which you have zero control. This will automatically reduce stress overload. It’s really important to first of all admit that you are feeling stressed and then identifying the cause. It’s only in this space that a person can start to develop a management strategy to help overcome the stress in their lives.

    • Write Down What Your Cause Of Stress Is

    Your reasons for feeling stressed may be obvious or they could be disguised in some way. Writing things down helps you clarify what is causing you the stress in your life – even the less obvious ones. One cause of stress can transcend into many causes so it’s important to find the main culprit and then you can start to think about how to deal with it.

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    •  Plan and Organise Your Day-to-Day Life

    The key to fighting stress is structure. When we’re stressed our mind can be a jumble of thoughts which then mirrors other areas of our life. Creating a plan of the day can allow your mind to cope better with the tasks you need to do. Whether at work or home make a rough schedule of what you want to achieve for that day. Remember to make it open and flexible so as to not add to any current stress.

    • Preparation Is Key

    Feeling unprepared can add to existing stress. The beginning and end of the day are key times to get prepared and control possible causes of stress. A good morning routine will set you up for a positive day. Even getting up 15 minutes earlier will help lessen any unnecessary rushing around and give you more time to organise yourself. At the end of the evening clear up anything that needs finishing so your mind is at ease for the following day.

    Stage 2: Relaxation Techniques For Stress Relief

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      Trying to relax is hard when you suffer from stress. It’s often difficult to stay still while the source of stress is still very much at the forefront of your mind. This is why some people turn to binge-watching TV shows or movies because they think this is a good way to unwind and relax. But often, this is having the opposite effect as the mind will wonder back to stressful thoughts almost straight away. Research has shown that people tend to feel worse after watching a big bout of TV as it promotes feelings of failure and procrastination. There are much more positive relaxation techniques that will help against feelings of stress.

      • Mindfulness Techniques

      Mediation is a great way to manage anxiety. There is a huge amount of research that indicates that practising mindfulness and mediation can reduce stress immensely – not only for your mind but also for your body. Reduced stress through meditation results in lower blood pressure which will lessen chances of heart attacks and other stress-related problems.

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      • Breathing Techniques

      Also related to mediation, taking long deep breathes can really help boost the amount of oxygen that the brain receives. Typically someone suffering from stress will have shorter, sharper breathes and this disrupts the oxygen and carbon dioxide balance in the body. When you feel particularly stressed, stop and sit down for a few minutes and just concentrate on your breathing. Feel your body relaxing and the muscles losing tension – using this technique several times during the day can help with symptoms of anxiety and clear your head.

      • Doing What Makes You Happy

      This can come in many forms from involving yourself in a hobby you enjoy, making plans with friends to planning a long weekend away. The aim here is to switch off and have fun. Often when we’re stressed, we forget to do the things that we enjoy, which can subtly add more stress to our lives. Being around people that you love and trust can really help lower stress levels, promoting the experience of safety and connection. Avoiding people who are known to stress you out will be beneficial.

      Stage 3: A Healthy Lifestyle For Stress Relief

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        When it comes to stress management nothing does the job better than exercise and diet. Keeping your body healthy will transcend through to your mind. Endorphins are magical when it comes to stress and when released through exercise, they can combat stress fast and effectively. Eating a healthy diet also contributes to stress relief as eating the right foods feeds the mind as well as the body. Finding an all-round healthy routine will help you on your way to down-sizing the stress in your life.

        • Establishing An Exercise Routine

        Exercise should be a priority. It’s important to pick something that you enjoy and you feel you can stick to. Running on a regular basis is especially known to help reduce anxiety, stress and depression but any cardiovascular activity will act as a stress eliminator. Not only will regular exercise make you more relaxed but it will allow you to sleep better. Try exercising with other people as this will encourage you to keep a routine.

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        • Adopting A Healthy Diet

        Eating healthily is a must because a well-nourished body is more prepared to cope with stress. Being mindful of what you’re eating is important as it can be easy to over-eat on the wrong foods when feeling overly stressed. Starting the day with a nutritious breakfast and eating regular healthy meals throughout the day will stop any stressed-induced cravings. Caffeine and sugar can be a hinderance. If you suffer from tiredness and fatigue it is tempting to drink coffee or energy drinks to lift you up but it will often end in a crash affecting your mood attracting further stress. Reducing your caffeine and sugar intake will help level out your body’s reaction to stressful situations.

        • Creating A Good Sleep Pattern

        Since sleep is crucial for daily functioning, any disruption can affect our level of stress which, in turn, can stop us from getting a good night’s sleep. When we fall into this trap it can become routine and our mind and body can start feeling the effects. It’s easy to sleep too much and at irregular times which disrupts our ability to get our 8 hours of sleep a night. Make sure you stick to a good schedule and go to bed at a reasonable hour avoiding any stimulants. If you find it hard to fall asleep try more of the breathing and mindful techniques mentioned earlier – they will help to calm your mind if it’s being over-active.

        Stage 4: Changing Your Perspective Towards Stress

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          For some people stress has become a habit or our natural reactions to stress never change. Sometimes a change in perspective can help overcome stress more easily. Stress starts in the mind and it’s how we react to it that can determine how prolonged it will be. Shifting your mindset on a problem that’s causing you stress can relieve you of the worry and anxiety it creates.

          • Look At The Bigger Picture

          Try to see the bigger picture when it comes to a stressful situation. Ask yourself if it’s really worth getting upset over. Will you still care in a month or a year down the line? How important is this situation for it to cause you this stress?

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          • View Your Problem In A Different Way

          If you find yourself getting stressed then try to think of the problem in a different way. Can you benefit from the situation somehow? For example if you find your commute to work long and tiresome, try to see as it as an opportunity to listen to your favourite music or read that book. Changing the way you perceive your situation to find some benefit to it will diffuse the stress you create around it.

          • Understand That You Can’t Control Everything

          Trying to control a situation and failing will cause you to feel helpless and more stressed. It’s important to understand that you can’t control everything especially other people. Therefore, try to focus on the things you can control like the way you react to situations and other people’s actions. Our mindset is very powerful so make sure you try to shift it to a more positive perspective and you’ll reap the benefits of a less-stressed life.

          Featured photo credit: Mislav Marohnic via flickr.com

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          Jenny Marchal

          A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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          Published on July 18, 2019

          11 Best Core Strengthening Exercises to Do At Home

          11 Best Core Strengthening Exercises to Do At Home

          No matter where you are in your fitness journey, chances are you wouldn’t mind a little more definition in your midsection.

          Whether you have a six pack or a beer belly, those abs could probably be a little bit sharper. Not to mention developing better core strength is hugely important when it comes to improving your overall strength and athleticism, as well as protecting you from injuries.[1]

          The good news? Your abs and core muscles can handle a lot of training.

          While most of your muscle groups do best with just two training sessions per week,[2] you can hit your abs every other day to great effect. You don’t even have to leave the house!

          Here’s my guide to the 11 best core strengthening exercises you can do at home with no equipment.

          1. Planks

          Let’s start with the mother of all core-strengtheners, the plank.

          Planks not only work your abs and obliques, they challenge those core muscles deep inside your body that help promote stability and power. They can also reduce back pain and improve your balance and posture.

          Get down into pushup position, feet behind you, hands under your shoulders. Lock out your arms and legs, squeeze your core muscles, and hold your body stiff (like a plank!) for as long as you can.

          For a more challenging variation, try a forearm plank with your arms out in front you. Lay your forearms on the ground for support, with your elbows under your face rather than aligned with your shoulders.

          2. Side Planks

          To hit your obliques even harder, try this challenging variation: the side plank.

          From plank position, rotate onto one side. Prop yourself up on your elbow and one foot with your body straight and stiff.

          Don’t forget to squeeze your core as you hold this position for as long as you can.

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          Switch sides and repeat to avoid creating muscle imbalances.

          3. Reverse Crunches

          The regular stomach crunch is a fine exercise, but when it comes to abs and core strength, you’ll want to opt for moves that are a lot more challenging.

          When you can crank out 50 crunches without a problem, it’s probably time for something new.

          The reverse crunch packs a wallop for your lower abs and can be done anywhere, anytime, just like the standard crunch.

          Lay on your back with knees bent in crunch position. Place your hands flat on the ground by your side and lift your pelvis, bringing your knees up toward your face, then back down again.

          Engage your lower ab muscles to do the work, not your back. Repeat for a few sets of 12-20 reps.

          4. Flutter Kicks

          The lower abs are a problem area for a lot of people, so we’ll want to work them hard.

          If that sounds like you, flutter kicks are just what the doctor ordered.

          Lay flat on your back in leg raise position, hands at your sides or pressed into the floor. Raise your legs together about 6 inches off the floor, then alternate lowering one and raising one a few inches in rapid succession.

          It should look like you’re kicking the air, and it should give you quite a burn in your abdominal area.

          5. Arms High Sit-Ups

          Imagine a crunch, but way harder!

          Lay down on the ground in sit-up position, knees bent, feet flat on the floor in front of you.

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          Raise your arms up to the sky and keep them elevated as you perform a few sets of sit-ups.

          Engaging your arms in this way makes the move extraordinarily difficult and taxing. You’ll get a lot more mileage out of this move versus traditional crunches.

          6. L-Sits

          The L-Sit is outrageously difficult to perform well, but if you can build your strength here, the benefits are phenomenal.

          To perform an L-Sit, you’ll need a stable surface to press off of. You can do them on the floor, but it’s a little easier if you can elevate yourself on a pair of dumbbells, two sturdy chairs, or a similar apparatus.

          Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Lock your arms in place at your sides, palms on the ground or surface, and press. Bring your legs into the air, perpendicular to your upper body, using the tension from your locked arms.

          Hold this position as long as possible for an intense strength building workout.

          7. Stomach Vacuums

          And now for something different!

          It’s easy to work your front-facing abdominal muscles, but there is another muscle group in your core that’s frequently overlooked: The transverse abdominis.

          This muscle isn’t visible through your skin, but it’s incredibly important in stabilizing your body, creating good posture, and holding your belly in tight to your spine.

          To strengthen this muscle and get a flatter stomach, try stomach vacuums.[3]

          Standing straight and tall. Exhale all of the air out of your body and simultaneously pull your belly in tight. Imagine sucking your belly button back into your spine.

          You’ll feel the transverse abdominis engage. Hold as long as possible, rest and then repeat.

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          8. Star Planks

          Planks are too effective to not utilize multiple variations of them in your routine.

          The star plank engaged similar muscles to the traditional plank, but is a lot harder to hold for time.

          From the push-up or standard plank position, walk your feet out wide and your hands, as well.

          Your body should form an X position. Elevate your core off the ground, squeeze tight, and hold for as long as possible.

          9. Boat Pose

          Yogis know all about core strength, so if you want a tighter tummy, you should take a page out of their playbook.

          Boat pose is an extremely difficult isometric hold that builds exceptional balance and core power.

          Star in sit-up position. Crunch yourself up toward your knees, then lift your feet off the floor until they’re about level with your face. Balance on your butt, squeeze your core, and hold this position as long as you can.

          Your body should form a V with the only point of contact being your butt on the ground. Holding boat pose should be extraordinarily challenging!

          10. Mountain Climbers

          Ab work alone won’t shred stomach fat. But when you combine abs and cardio, that’s when you’re onto something magical.

          Mountain climbers fit the bill if you’re looking to blast your core and also work up a good sweat.

          Get down into plank position. With your arms locked and your body tight, drive one knee at a time off the floor, up toward your chest, and then back to its original position. Repeat in quick succession.

          It should look like you’re climbing a hill, and it should exhaust you in a matter of seconds!

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          11. Russian Twists

          Finally, let’s give the obliques a little more love.

          Get down into sit-up position and perform a crunch toward your knees. From here, lean back so your torso is at a 45 degree angle to the floor, clasp your hands in front of you, and twist side to side in rapid succession.

          You’ll feel your obliques engage after just a few reps.

          For a more difficult variation, lift your feet off the floor similar to boat pose while perform the move, or perform the twist using a heavy medicine ball for added resistance.

          The Bottom Line

          The biggest piece of the puzzle when it comes to six-pack abs is a low body fat percentage. That’s best accomplished by sticking to a smart diet and building your fully body strength.

          However, if you want to improve your athleticism, overall strength, or even your longevity, you can afford to work your abs a bit more frequently — 3-4 times per week is perfect.

          If you hit them hard enough, you’ll probably see some great improvement in definition as well!

          Cranking out endless crunches is one way to go about core training, but there are so many better and more challenging moves you can try without ever having to leave your living room.

          Give them a shot!

          Featured photo credit: Luis Quintero via unsplash.com

          Reference

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