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Stressed Out? 4 Simple Tricks To Help You Reduce Stress At Home

Stressed Out? 4 Simple Tricks To Help You Reduce Stress At Home

We all have those days that we wish was not ours. Many things happen that get us antsy: The system that won’t power up, even though your deadline to submit your work is due; the car that failed to start in the morning which caused you to get to work late, and earned yourself a query letter from your boss, as result. Sometimes, it looks as if the universe conspired against you for no reason.

Getting to Know How Your Brain Works During Distress

No one wakes up and wishes for things to go against them. But the unexpected does happen. That’s life!

Here is what the brain does when the unexpected happens: you think of what the reaction might be or what this will result in. And your brain goes haywire. It tries to defend you. But it does this job poorly, and now, you have this thing called stress.

Stress is your body’s reaction to harmful events or an unfavorable condition.

Psychologists call it “fight or flight”. That is, when the unexpected happens, your body or brain goes through can be called “should I fight this or let it go?” moments. You’re thinking about what’s wrong, at the same time you want to find a solution to it. This causes anxiety, depression, your blood pressure rises and so on.

But then, psychologists have also devised several means to combat stress, reduce it, or simply managing it. Or always putting yourself in a state where things don’t always get this bad.

Relaxation responses [1] are opposites of “fight or flight”: instead of reacting to what’s wrong, you respond and that’s taking charge of your body and mind, attempting to bring calmness into your body both mentally and physically.

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In case you also battle stress from time to time, the following are easy or simple tricks you can employ to relief your stress – they don’t cost a thing, just your time.

4 Four Tricks to Help You Reduce Stress at Home:

1. Play Soothing, Nature Music

The consensus conception is that music is only for pleasure. But if recent evidence by researchers is anything to go by,  music is way more than what most of us thought of it. Simply put: music should be your primary “go-to” stress reliever where you’re down. The reason being, it costs nothing unlike drugs, and it’s always readily available.

Now, how does music reduce stress? One of the signs that you’re distressed, anxious is that your heart beats faster than normal, but psychologists have reported that listening to music—slow soothing music, in particular—helps slow the heart rate.

How? According to a research carried out at the Israel Medical Center’s Louis Amstrong Center for Music and Medicine, mothers were told to sing lullabies to their premature babies and obviously disturbed babies. And the result? They noticed the babies’ heart rate slowed down and they stayed quieter and more alert than before.[2]

The same researchers were also able to prove music is capable of distracting one from pains and in some cases more effective than drugs. Music therapists found that patients who listen to music before a surgery is performed on them were reported to feel less pain compared to those who took a drug or some sort of pain relievers.

David Levitin, author of This is Your Brain on Music said “we’ve found compelling evidence that musical interventions can play a health-care role in settings ranging from operating rooms to family clinics”

Bringing Slow Music to Your Life…

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Whenever you’re feeling distressed, consider listening to music, specifically a slow one. Have a playlist comprising of slow music and listen to them. There are also some Youtube channels that are tailored to relieve you of the stress.

2. Deep breathing

One of those ways to activate relaxation response is through deep breathing, and this probably the easiest of all tricks. Yes, the normal breathing is something you do all the time – only this time, it is intentional and it’s actually deeper.

You will hear people call this many names like diaphragmatic breathing, belly breathing and so on. But it’s still the usual breathing in and out.

When you breathe, you inhale fresh oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. If you’re wondering why doctors tell patient to take a deliberate but slow breath, before checking their blood pressure, here it is: slow breathing helps lower the heart rate and helps stabilize one’s blood pressure otherwise known as hypertension.[3]

How to Get Started With Deep Breathing

This technique is actually an age-long way of calming one’s mind down. Though it only started gaining mainstream attention in the west a few decades ago, it’s been pretty much practiced in the east by yogis.

All you have to do is find somewhere quiet and distraction free. Slowly breathe in and out, visualize or watch air go into your body and coming out through the nostrils. It’s that simple, and you don’t need more 5-10 minutes of practice a day.

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    3. Mindfulness Meditation

    If anyone told you that that problem that is trying to crush your soul right now isn’t really there, that it is just your mind meddling with your thought, that it is all up in your head, would you take them seriously?

    Of course, you won’t. But maybe you should.

    Your car broke down, you got late to work, and your boss gave you a query letter asking for a cogent reason why you were late to work. Now you are thinking this will lead to you being sacked. Maybe it won’t. Maybe he just wants to know. But your mind is already cooking up a story. A dangerous one! Now you want to fight it. You’re imagining yourself being jobless.

    Mindful meditation which also includes deliberate breathing, the closing of one’s eyes and sitting calmly, allows you shift your mind away from the problem for some time, which allows you to see things the way they are.One way to silence the chatterbox in your head is through mindful meditation.

    But that’s not all, there is more to meditation, and researchers have also found that mindful meditation helps cure diseases such as anxiety disorder, asthma, depression, high blood pressure, increase your ability to focus for an extended period time and sleep problems. [4]

    Meditation was practiced for thousands of years in the east by different people, and so it takes different forms, but still, they all aim for the same thing, and it all depends on the one each individual finds most convenient.

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    • Guided meditation: Some people do this while listening to an audio where someone is telling them what to do. Usually, with your eyes closed, you’re told to engage your mind’s eye and focus on visualising the air going through you as you breathe. This also improves one’s ability to focus.
    • Mantra meditation: As the name implies, you do this by sitting calmly in a distraction-free environment while you repeating a word or phrase to ensure you’re focused and not distracted.

    4. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

    Muscle tension is one of many ways your body reacts to anxiety and fear. If you notice, whenever you find yourself in an uncomfortable position, you find yourself sitting or standing upright. You stiffen your muscles, which leads to pain or aches in that part of the body.

    If that sounds like you, then Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) is what you need. PMR is an exercise that helps you release those tighten muscles. Here is how simple and effective this is from personal experience:

    When I’m stressed or feeling anxious, my veins seem to grow and bulges out for anyone to see. Thanks to the knowledge of PMR, once I notice this, I hold my fist tightly for some seconds and then release it. Immediately, the veins won’t disappear from sight. This is said to not only return the muscles to their normal state, it makes them better.

    How Do You Do PRM?

    You do this by tensing the muscles in your body and releasing them after a few seconds— specifically 6-10. Start from your toe to your head.

    Reference

    More by this author

    Mayowa Koiki

    Freelance Writer. Entrepreneur. An Avid Student of Life

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    Last Updated on March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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