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30 Easy Ways To Beat Stress Quickly

30 Easy Ways To Beat Stress Quickly

Stress is so common in the U.S. that it pushes three quarters of us to experience physical and psychological symptoms on a regular basis. When the most common causes of stress involve job pressure, money, health, relationships, and poor nutrition, it’s no surprise that we get burnt out. After all, most of us get a heavy dose of these stressors on a daily basis.

What is surprising is that few of us actually take measures to reduce that stress–and that’s because it can take a lot of time and effort. Getting on the treadmill? No thank you! (Turns out only 14 percent of us use regular exercise to cope with stress.) The good news is that you don’t have to stick to a strict exercise regimen to beat stress. With these 30 quick stress relieving activities, you can reduce your stress levels now. Choose one to start beating stress in under five minutes.

1. Snuggle, Kiss, or Hug Someone You Love

A strong support network is a great way to beat stress during a rough time. One study shows that social support is a hugely effective stress management mechanism with students learning to cope with stress. Another study showed that frequent hugs from a partner can lower blood pressure. Kick-start that support by cuddling up with someone you love. Knowing someone is there is often enough to help you manage your stress more effectively.

2. Take a bath with Epsom Salt

Taking a hot bath with Epsom salt is a quick and effective way to let your worries go. Why add Epsom salt to your bath? The salt increases the water’s specific gravity, making you feel more light-weight and buoyant while helping your muscles relax. Your body also absorbs the salts, which helps replenish magnesium stores, a mineral that is reduced with stress. Magnesium can help decrease irritability since it reduces the effect of adrenaline on the body.

3. Get Outside and Feel the Sun on Your Face

The sun acts as a powerful weapon against stress. That’s why in areas where people get little sun in the winter, much of the population experiences depressive symptoms. This is because sunlight affects the body’s level of serotonin, a feel-good neurotransmitter that helps maintain good mood. If you can, try coupling your outdoor session with some exercise, like walking or biking, to further boost your mood.

4. Dance

You probably already know that exercise can boost your mood. In fact, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin say that a single 40-minute exercise session can immediately boost mood. But what good is it if you hate the exercise? Get up and dance like nobody’s watching! You’ll get the stress relieving mood boost that comes with exercise while enjoying yourself.

5. Meditate

Meditation comes in many forms, but whichever you choose to go with, it will likely help reduce stress. Start in a comfortable position and focus on clearing your mind. If your mind begins wandering, find something to focus on, like your breathing, a mantra, or an object in front of you. Check out these other forms of meditation to figure out which one best fits your personality and schedule.

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6. Pet an Animal

Human-animal interaction can have positive effects on humans. That’s why it’s common to see children with autism, elderly patients, or other disabled individuals with support pets–usually cats and dogs that help them emotionally. Spending time with your own pet can help relieve your stress, too. If you don’t have a furry friend, meet up with a friend who does or volunteer at an animal shelter, where you can play with and walk the cats and dogs.

7. Try Aromatherapy

Certain scents like lavender have been shown to reduce stress levels. Draw a bath and add a few drops of lavender oil into the tub, light a candle, or light some incense. Other easy ways to enjoy the effects of essential oils include using a diffuser, adding it to your lotion before applying it, or letting the oil evaporate off a nearby cotton ball.

8. Drink Soothing Tea–Like Chamomile

Herbal remedies like chamomile tea are great for relieving stress due to their calming properties. Chamomile tea promotes muscle relaxation, helping you unwind. Plus, it’s good for cramping, pain, and gas, so it can help relieve physical pain, too.

9. Get a Massage

Studies show that after just a five-minute touch massage, heart rate is decreased significantly, pointing to a reduction in the stress response. If you have the time and money, head to a nearby spa for a professional treatment. If not, ask a friend or family member to rub your back for a few minutes, or give yourself a self foot, face, and calf massage.

10. Enjoy a Yoga Session

Yoga is a method of meditation that helps relax the muscles and clear the mind. Not only can it provide a quick stress relief now, but ongoing yoga sessions can improve chronic low back pain, lower blood pressure, and improve overall health. It doesn’t have to take a huge time commitment–or even a lot of money–to start. Begin with the Yoga Zone videos on Hulu for free 30- to 60-minute sessions (although it shouldn’t take that long to start feeling the stress-relieving effects).

11. Listen to Relaxing Music

I don’t know about you, but I get frustrated quickly with slow-to-start yoga videos–and I’ve been known to sneak out of yoga sessions early because I find it more frustrating than relaxing. Instead, I turn on this 8 hours of relaxing music (don’t worry–you don’t have to listen to the whole thing) and do whatever stretches I feel my body needs while focusing on my breathing. Sometimes I just lie on the floor consciously relaxing every muscle in my body while listening to the music. Beware of starting a session if you have somewhere to go; you might fall asleep!

12. Eat a Piece of Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is a tasty treat that’s loaded with nutrients with stress relieving properties, helping to lower stress hormones. But be careful. Some “dark” chocolates aren’t as “dark” as you might think. Most run around 45 percent cocoa content, but you’ll want at least 70 percent cocoa content to get the most health benefits out of it.

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13. Talk it Out

Stress can escalate by keeping it all in. Help your mind work through it by talking to a friend, praying, or even talking to yourself. This is a great way to sort out your stressors, come up with solutions, and put things in perspective. You’ll likely feel a weight lifted off your shoulders with a sense that everything will be alright.

14. Skip the Junk Food

It may seem like a simple solution to eat your feelings, but digging into the junk food isn’t going to help. Foods like alcohol, candy, and those high in sodium and fat are actually very bad for reducing stress. Instead, opt for a healthy diet high in whole foods, and when you have to indulge, indulge in a sweet fruity snack. Fish–with their omega-3 fatty acids–are also good for reducing the symptoms of stress.

15. Take a Break From Technology–Especially Your Smartphone

Media overload–be it television, radio, Internet, or social networking–is the sixth top cause of stress in the U.S. Given that your smartphone can deliver all of these–at once!–it’s probably best to stay away from it when you’re trying to reduce stress. Staying away from your smartphone for a while gives you time to focus on yourself, clear your mind, and work through your stress without distractions.

16. Download a Stress App (And Use It)

If you simply can’t get away from your smartphone, use it to your advantage. Apps like Relax Melodies feature anxiety-relieving music, and Breathe2Relax guides breathing exercises. The Acupressure: Heal Yourself app helps reduce stress levels by teaching you where to find your body’s acupressure points, and Worry Box — Anxiety Self-Help acts as a journal to help you deal with your stressors.

17. Smile

When you’re stressing, you probably don’t feel like smiling, but simply going through the motions can help you feel the happy emotions associated with it. If you need a bit of help, put a pencil between your teeth to simulate the smiling effect.

18. Take a Nap

A common cause of stress is lack of sleep. Furthermore, stress can make it difficult to sleep. It’s an awfully vicious cycle. If you’ve only got a few minutes, lay down and set an alarm to allow yourself a few minutes of rest. At night, try to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep to reduce your day-to-day stress.

19. Find Video Clips on YouTube that Make You Laugh

In addition to boosting your immune system, memory, aerobic endurance, and creativity levels, laughter has been shown to reduce stress hormone levels. Along with that, laughter helps relax tension in the muscles, promote blood flow to the brain, and move more air through the lungs to deliver a cleansing effect similar to deep breathing. A simple way to get in a good laugh is to watch funny Youtube video clips. My favorite ones that get me every time come from the Talking Animals Youtube channel. If you’re an animal lover, you’re really appreciate these!

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20. Play With Your Kids

Kids have such a unique way of looking at the world that interacting with them can help you enjoy their worry-free views. The great thing about playing with your kids is that you get a stress-relieving kick in numerous ways. You become preoccupied to let go of your worries, you get exercise, and you get to interact with loved ones. If you don’t have kids, offer to babysit a friend’s to get your mind off your worries.

21. Start a Gratitude Journal

Staring a gratitude journal is a great step toward looking at life optimistically. By simply listing a few things you’re thankful for in your life, you can work up the courage to face your stressors, making them appear less difficult to deal with. As you’re listing things you’re grateful for, you may realize that a lot of the things you’re stressing over are pretty trivial, putting you in a position to let go of some of it and focus on what really matters.

22. Outsource Your Tasks

Whether at work or at home, stress can grow quickly as your to-do list gets longer. Reduce your stress as you shorten your to-do list by handing off tasks to others. Is there someone in the office who can help you with your project? At home, can you have your children or partner pick up some of the chores?

23. Perform an Act of Kindness

Acts of kindness can help boost confidence, optimism, and happiness while reducing stress. In fact, studies show that people who volunteer are overall healthier and happier than those who don’t. If you have a lot of time, consider volunteering in organizing a community event. Truth be told, you don’t need to devote hours of time to a volunteer opportunity to enjoy these benefits, though. Simply look for opportunities throughout the day to perform a random act of kindness like the ideas listed here.

24. Go Swimming

Whether you take a dip in your outdoor pool, head to the community pool, or laze on the beach, taking a dip in the water is a great way to beat stress and reduce depressive symptoms. Not only will the exercise give you a mood boost, but the water can have a calming effect on the body.

25. Chew Sugar-Free Gum

A 2008 study showed that gum chewing can reduce levels of cortisol in the body, a stress hormone. Research subjects reported feeling more alert with less anxiety after chewing gum. Opt for a sugar-free option that’s healthier on the teeth.

26. Let Your Imagination Run Wild

“Guided Imagery” is a stress-relieving technique that has many of the same benefits as deep breathing. The method works by getting yourself in a quiet, comfortable position and letting your imagination take you to your “happy place.” You might, for instance, imagine yourself walking along the beach while imagining sounds and smells and focusing on your breathing. If you can’t seem to focus, search for a guided online podcast that will help walk you through the process.

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27. Give a Compliment

Sharing compliments with others not only makes you feel better about yourself, but it can change the way people treat you, effectively reducing tension in your work and home life. When you’re stressing over relationships, use a “kill them with kindness” approach to change the environment you’re living in and boost your mood.

28. Treat Yourself

You probably feel pretty special on your birthday when you’re treated to presents and cake. It’s a pretty great stress buster, right? Treat yourself like it’s your birthday! Buy yourself a present, or go out for a tasty meal–whatever it is that makes you feel special.

29. Look Up Cat Photos

You might roll your eyes at the people who “waste” time looking at cat photos online, but the truth is that focusing on cute images can help produce positive feelings. This practice can even help you perform tasks more carefully afterward, says a 2012 study, so you really shouldn’t feel guilty about looking up cat pictures at work!

30. Go for a Walk

Aside from the exercise you’ll get from your walk, taking a short stroll is a great way to let go of stress. Studies show that even a moderate-paced walk can help reduce muscle tension and decrease anxiety. Try meditating as you walk by repeating a mantra. This has been shown to further promote positive mood and reduced stress.

Featured photo credit: RelaxingMusic via flickr.com

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How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

Keeping yourself awake at work can be a real challenge when you’re bored, exhausted or sleep-deprived.

But before you reach for that can of Red Bull, bottle of Mountain Dew, or pot of coffee, try these healthy remedies to stimulate your 5 different senses and help you stay awake at work:

Sight – Visual Stimulation

The first thing you do when you wake up is opening your eyes, so your visual stimulation is very important to keeping your energy level high.

1. Maximize your exposure to light.

Your body’s internal rhythm is regulated by the amount of light you receive. The greater your exposure, the more alert you will feel.

Open the shades and let in the sunlight. Step outside or look out the window. Turn on all the artificial lights in your office or around your work space.

2. Exercise your eyes (or give them a break).

Roll your eyes up and down, side to side and diagonally. Rotate them clockwise and then counterclockwise. Squeeze them shut and then open them wide. Do this several times.

Reading and sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods can lead to eye fatigue.

Take regular breaks with deliberate blinking and looking out into the distance.

3. Take note of your environment.

Learn to enjoy people-watching. Observe their activities, speech, body language and interactions with others. Notice the details of building, trees and other objects around you, including their color, shape and size.

By doing this, you’re not only relaxing your eye muscles but also calming your mind.

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Hearing – Auditory Stimulation

What you hear or listen to have direct effect on your brain. This is why we feel so annoyed and sometimes angry when we hear construction noise when we’re working.

4. Engage in conversation.

Talk to a friend or colleague. Trade funny stories. Discuss your business venture, a creative idea, the latest political scandal, or any other topic that interests you.

Practice mindful listening to what you and the other person are saying. Tune into the tone, volume and content of the conversation.

Learn how to practice better listening from this guide:

Why Listen to Reply Instead of Understand Is the Key to Failure

5. Listen to upbeat music.

Try hip hop, rock or jazz to keep you alert. Instrumental, non-distracting music works best.

Sing, whistle, and hum along if you can. Plug in the earphones if you must.

Smell – Olfactory Stimulation

If you’re feeling sleepy and suddenly smell the coffee, you’ll probably feel more energetic. This is why smell is an influential stimulation.

6. Work your nose.

Aroma therapists recommend essential oils of peppermint (to boost energy), rosemary (to build awareness), eucalyptus (to increase oxygen), cedarwood  (to activate your mind), and cinnamon (to improve your reaction time).

If you don’t have essential oils on hand, you can use lotions or burning candles that provide the same scents.

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Citrus like lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges are also natural olfactory stimulants. Get a whiff of these citrus scents to stay awake.

Taste – Gustatory Stimulation

If you want an energetic day at work, you can’t let your tongue feeling plain and flavorless.

7. Have a good breakfast.

Start off with the most important meal of the day.

Think fresh, light and healthy: bran cereals, wholegrain breads, fruits, and yogurt.

Nix the heavy stuff like sausages, greasy eggs or pancakes.

Need some breakfasts inspirations? Check out these ideas:

20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time

8. Drink lots of water.

Keep a glass or bottle of H2O near you and sip from it throughout the day. Dehydration can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and sleepy.

So make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. Not sure how much to drink? This can help you:

How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day (and How Much Is Too Much for You)

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Think that you’ve been drinking too little water? Try these friendly reminders:

3 Best Apps To Help You Drink Much More Water

9. Eat energy-boosting snacks.

Nuts and fruits (like bananas, apples and strawberries) are sure bets. Pairings with staying power include baby carrots with a low-fat cream cheese dip; celery sticks with peanut butter; red peppers with hummus; and plain yogurt with granola.

Avoid carb-filled, sugary snacks that make you crash and leave you feeling tired.

Here you can find some healthy snack ideas:

25 Healthy Snack Recipes To Make Your Workday More Productive

Touch – Tactile Stimulation

Last but not least, your sense of touch will make you physically feel more energetic and less stressful.

10. Splash cold water on your face.

Do this in the morning, during bathroom breaks and in the afternoon. Being exposed to cold water pushes your body to adjust and regulate its internal temperature, which in turn keeps you alert.

This works the same as you take a cold shower to increase mood and alertness. Take a look at this article to learn more about it:

5 Surprising Benefits of Cold Showers

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11. Use acupressure.

Apply pressure to, massage, or tap on the stimulation points of your body. These include the top of your head, the back of your neck, the back of your hand (between the thumb and index finger), just below the knee and your earlobes.

Watch this video to learn about the acupressure points you can try:

12. Get moving.

Move away from your chair and stand, walk, run or climb the stairs. Feel the earth under your feet. Stretch and twist. Do jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups and back bends.

And if you need to move more discreetly, wiggle your feet, bounce your knee up and down, scrunch your toes, or cross your legs.

You can also try some simple stretches and exercises at your desk:

Unlike addictive caffeine fixes, these remedies activate your senses, engage your attention, amp up your energy and prevent morning grogginess and afternoon slumps without the side effects or health risks.

Pick a few ways from this list of suggestions and practice them consistently. And when you do this consistently, you’ll soon see the positive results — a more energetic and productive you at work.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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