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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

How to Relieve Stress: 9 Quick Relaxation Techniques

How to Relieve Stress: 9 Quick Relaxation Techniques

According to The American Institute of Stress, finding one single definition of stress is difficult, since everyone experiences it in their own way.

We can reference the age-old Epictetus quote that says, “people are disturbed not by a thing, but by their perception of a thing.” If we subscribe to this ideology, we can see how the statistics for stress are on the rise, with the latest numbers averaging 70% of the United States population experiencing symptoms of stress. Not only that, but these symptoms have turned to physical manifestations in the body in the form of disease, as well as mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety.[1]

In our fast-paced world, finding stress is easy. With too much going on, and too many tasks to handle, stress is the simple by-product of having too much on our plate, with not enough hours in the day.

The leading causes of stress have become work/career, money, and the future of the world (whether politically or socially within local communities). Stress at work has become the unfortunate driving force, with an estimated 80% of workers reporting a stressful work environment.[2]

When we’re feeling stressed, there are a number of physiological changes that our body undergoes: headaches, fatigue, aches, pains, digestion problems, insomnia, increased blood pressure, clenching of jaw, tightness in the muscles, and many more. Likewise, we develop emotional and mental symptoms, as well, such as agitation, low energy, racing thoughts, anxiety, depression, and panic attacks.[3]

Thankfully, with a plethora of external research on the subject, stress management has become a priority in balancing work, life, and anything in-between. Major global economies, corporations, and organizations have shifted their approach to how we view stress, therefore creating more holistic work-life environments that aid in stress relief.

So how can you relieve stress with a few simple techniques?

1. Find Time to Exercise During Your Day

Exercising doesn’t have to take up hours of your time. We may not all be able to make it out to the gym or to a class for a couple of hours every day, but finding moments in your day in which to prioritize movement is a great way to begin the habit.

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Write in a time on your calendar to take a cardio class at your local gym at least once per week, and commit to that time. Drive straight from work if you have to, therefore eliminating the temptation to stay home.

Take a walk during your lunch hour, instead of just working through lunch. Set up alarms and reminders on your phone to keep you accountable.

Here’re more ways to help you: 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise

2. Stay Hydrated with Healthy Fluids

We may need a couple of cups of coffee to get us started in the morning, but that addiction has its ups and downs. Did you know that large amounts of coffee during the day elevate your cortisol levels, much in the same way that stress does?[4]

Choosing to cut your day’s fluids with water, herbal tea, or sugar-free smoothies or juices is a good way of balancing the energy you get from food.

3. Leave Your Work at Work

So often, we take our projects and tasks home with us after a long day’s work. When those to-do lists cross the threshold of our home, we begin to lose the boundaries between being an employee and being a human being with a family, friends, and a social life.

Keeping those boundaries clear, and leaving work at work is a key technique in being able to enjoy the rest of your day, every day, to do the things that bring you joy, thereby reducing stress and leaving it at the door.

4. Make Time for Fun

Whether it’s going out with friends to a movie once per month, or catching a game or a concert, having fun is something we often put off on the back burner.

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How many times have you run into an old friend and suggested you meet up, and then never follow through? We’re all guilty of it.

Life gets in the way; but just like we can plan our entire work day, we can also plan time for unwinding and enjoying the simpler things.

5. Meditate

Meditation is a fast-growing practice, and for right reason. Not only does it lower cortisol levels, which feed stress; it also promotes deep relaxation and rest.

You can meditate in the morning before your day begins, to set the tone for how you’d like to approach your day’s tasks; or you can meditate at night before bed, to ease your way into a restful sleep and detach from the day’s events.

No matter when you decide to practice, initiating it is the first step. If finding and going to a local meditation class isn’t accessible for you, tune into the many free guided meditation apps on your phone, such as Insight Timer, Headspace, or Calm.[5]

You can also take a look at this guide: Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditate Deeply and Quickly

6. Carve out Time for Self-Care

This could be your perfect time to treat yourself. Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive nor complex. It could be something as simple as taking a nice bubble bath at the end of a long day, or treating yourself to a picnic during the weekend. As long as it’s making time for yourself, it’s self-care!

Self-care not only alleviates stress, but also puts you back into the present moment, where you can enjoy the day and yourself without chasing future thoughts.

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Try one of these 30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit.

7. Consider Supplements

Even though most of our vitamins and minerals are derived from food, sometimes we need additional supplements to fill in the gaps.

Vitamin C and D are high in increasing our energy, especially in the colder months where the sunshine is low and citrus fruit is not always readily available.

Likewise, Omega-3 fatty acids that you would get from seafood and avocado have been proven to reduce anxiety by up to 20%, and they’re very healthy for your immune system and digestion. [6]

8. Diffuse Essential Oils

Our olfactory system – our sense of smell – plays a key role in how we can relieve stress. Think back on your favorite smell and how you feel when you notice it. There’s often a sense of immediate relaxation, as if tension is simply falling away.

Essential oils have long been used in aromatherapy to do just that, and these days, purchasing essential oils and diffusing them at home, in your office, or even in the car has never been easier.

Some popular scents that have proven to relieve stress and anxiety are lavender, sandalwood, jasmine, lemongrass, and rose, among others.

Aside from diffusing, consider topical applications on the inside of your wrists, temples, and soles of the feet, for a long-lasting, all-day effect.[7]

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9. Keep a Journal

Another proven tactic for eliminating stress is to begin a journaling practice. Begin each morning by opening up your journal and doing a Thought Dump. This involves writing down anything that may be on your mind, whether it’s from the night before, or a thought that you woke up with. It’s also helpful to write down any dreams that you may remember.

The idea behind this practice is that once you dump out any thoughts that you may have, you’re clearer to prioritize your day. It’s almost as if you’re creating a new blank slate.

Additionally, writing down your thoughts allows you to process and analyze them from a detached perspective, without them festering and turning into stressful recollections later.

Learn more about journal writing: How to Use a 5 Minute Journal to Invest in Your Happiness

Final Thoughts

With as much as we’re juggling in our everyday routines, stress is the unfortunate stalker lurking in close shadows.

We can give in to the stressful habits and patterns that keep us locked in physical and mental pain; or we can redirect our habits into something more productive, therapeutic, and healing.

Thankfully, with the resources and techniques at our disposal, those habits are much easier to implement than we think.

More to Calm Yourself

Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Daily Life: What is Stress?
[2] Global Organization for Stress: Stress Facts
[3] WebMD: Stress Symptoms
[4] VeryWellMind: Caffeine, Stress, and your Health
[5] Huffpost: The Power of Meditation
[6] Healthline: 16 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress and Anxiety
[7] VeryWellMind: Essential Oils for Stress Relief

More by this author

Aleksandra Slijepcevic

Accredited and Certified Vinyasa Yoga Teacher writing for Health & Fitness

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

How to Cope With the Stages of Grief and Heal After Loss

How to Cope With the Stages of Grief and Heal After Loss

The death of a loved one is, unfortunately, something most of us have experienced or will experience at some point in our lives, but grief and loss are not felt only when someone passes away. You may move through the stages of grief quickly or slowly, and you may even find yourself moving back to a stage you thought you had passed. People grieve differently, and there is no correct way to grieve in any situation.

A close friend or family member moving away, a divorce or breakup, loss of a job, as well as a number of other life experiences can cause feelings of grief or loss. Coping with loss is one of the most stressful and difficult things we have to deal with in life, but it is an experience everyone can relate to.

The Stages of Grief

The five stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—are related to the common emotions we go through when we experience loss. This grief model was identified by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in 1969[1].

However, because everyone is different, there is no “standard” way to react to grief and loss.[2]

Some people will wear their emotions on their sleeves and be outwardly emotional. Others will experience their grief more internally, and may not cry. You should try not to judge how a person experiences grief, as each person will experience it differently.

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Stages of grief

    Stage 1: Denial

    The feeling of shock when you first find out about a loss can lead to thinking, “This isn’t real.” This is a temporary way to deal with the rush of overwhelming emotion and a defense mechanism for your mind.[3]

    Stage 2: Anger

    Feelings of frustration and helplessness take hold during this stage. Thoughts like “It’s not fair” can be common. Even being angry at your loved one who died for “leaving you behind” is natural. This anger can spill over into your close relationships, and you can find yourself getting angry at those around you for no apparent reason.

    Stage 3: Bargaining

    During this stage, you are constantly thinking about what you could have done to prevent the loss. Thoughts of “What if…” and “If only…” replay in the mind. You might also try to bargain with a higher power in hopes of reversing the loss.

    Stage 4: Depression

    This stage brings the deep sadness you feel as you realize the loss is irreversible. You think about how your life will be affected by the loss. Crying, loss of appetite, feelings of loneliness, and unusual sleeping patterns are all signs of depression.

    Stage 5: Acceptance

    You accept the loss, and although you’re still sad, you slowly start to move on with your life and settle in to your new reality.

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    The stages of grief don’t have to be in this order, and you might not experience all stages. There is also no set time period for grieving, and some people take longer to heal than others.

    How to Heal From Grief and Loss

    When you’re experiencing those heartbreaking feelings and the stages of grief, it’s hard to believe that you’ll eventually heal, but you really will. Here are some ways to help the healing process:

    1. Confront the Painful Emotions

    Try not to bottle up your emotions. Allow yourself to express how you feel. It’s a healthy part of the grieving process.[4]

    If you’re not ready to get together with friends and family to talk about how you’re feeling, you can work with your emotions through mindful meditation, which can help create space for you to take a look at what you’re feeling and why.

    2. Talk About It

    When you’re ready and have entered the final stages of grief, talking to someone about the way you are feeling can be very helpful in starting the healing process. Often, people want to isolate themselves while grieving, but being around friends and family can help. Talking can also help you to confront your emotions if you have been unable to.

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    3. Keep up With Your Routine

    Loss can make you feel like your world has been turned upside down. As you move through the stages of grief, getting through your daily routine may feel more difficult, which can cause you to put self-care to the side. Keeping up with your routine can help bring back some normality and ensure you are showing yourself love and consideration.

    4. Take Care of Yourself

    When you are grieving and depressed, simple things like eating become an afterthought, and sleeping may become difficult. Taking care of yourself and your health will help with the healing process.

    While you may not do everything you were doing before your loss, try to do one act of self-care each day. It can be taking a long bath, going for a walk, making a nice meal, or even practicing a hobby once you feel ready. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated; it just needs to be something that makes you feel good.

    5. Don’t Make Any Major Decisions

    Grief clouds the ability to make sound decisions.[5] Try to postpone making any big decisions for a while or get guidance from close friends or family if you can’t put it off.

    Grief may also make you feel like making major changes to your life, such as quitting a job or ending a relationship. Try to remember that now is not the best time to make these changes, and hold off further consideration until you have moved through all of the stages of grief.

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    The Bottom Line

    It is important to heal after a loss so that you can get on with life. There is no set time period for grieving, but if you feel that your grief isn’t getting better, and you are unable to accept the loss, it might be time to seek advice from a mental health professional.

    In the meantime, accept that now is a difficult time, but that it will get better. Time will inevitably help and make the pain less powerful. One day, you will wake up and realize the pain is simply a small echo in the back of your mind and that you have successfully moved through each of the stages of grief. It’s time to get back to your life.

    More on Dealing With the Stages of Grief

    Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

    Reference

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