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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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Last Updated on November 20, 2018

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

A new year beautifully symbolizes a new chapter opening in the book that is your life. But while so many people like you aspire to achieve ambitious goals, only 12% of you will ever experience the taste of victory. Sound bad? It is. 156 million people (that’s 156,000,000) will probably give up on their resolution before you can say “confetti.” Keep on reading to learn why New Year’s resolutions fail (and how to succeed).

Note: Since losing weight is the most common New Year’s resolution, I chose to focus on weight loss (but these principles can be applied to just about any goal you think of — make it work for you!).

1. You’re treating a marathon like a sprint.

Slow and steady habit change might not be sexy, but it’s a lot more effective than the “I want it ALL and I want it NOW!” mentality. Small changes stick better because they aren’t intimidating (if you do it right, you’ll barely even notice them!).

If you have a lot of bad habits today, the last thing you need to do is remodel your entire life overnight. Want to lose weight? Stop it with the crash diets and excessive exercise plans. Instead of following a super restrictive plan that bans anything fun, add one positive habit per week. For example, you could start with something easy like drinking more water during your first week. The following week, you could move on to eating 3 fruits and veggies every day. And the next week, you could aim to eat a fistful of protein at every meal.

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2. You put the cart before the horse.

“Supplementing” a crappy diet is stupid, so don’t even think about it. Focus on the actions that produce the overwhelming amount of results. If it’s not important, don’t worry about it.

3. You don’t believe in yourself.

A failure to act can cripple you before you leave the starting line. If you’ve tried (and failed) to set a New Year’s resolution (or several) in the past, I know it might be hard to believe in yourself. Doubt is a nagging voice in your head that will resist personal growth with every ounce of its being. The only way to defeat doubt is to believe in yourself. Who cares if you’ve failed a time or two? This year, you can try again (but better this time).

4. Too much thinking, not enough doing.

The best self-help book in the world can’t save you if you fail to take action. Yes, seek inspiration and knowledge, but only as much as you can realistically apply to your life. If you can put just one thing you learn from every book or article you read into practice, you’ll be on the fast track to success.

5. You’re in too much of a hurry.

If it was quick-and-easy, everybody would do it, so it’s in your best interest to exercise your patience muscles.

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6. You don’t enjoy the process.

Is it any wonder people struggle with their weight when they see eating as a chore and exercise as a dreadful bore? The best fitness plan is one that causes the least interruption to your daily life. The goal isn’t to add stress to your life, but rather to remove it.

The best of us couldn’t bring ourselves to do something we hate consistently, so make getting in shape fun, however you’ve gotta do it. That could be participating in a sport you love, exercising with a good friend or two, joining a group exercise class so you can meet new people, or giving yourself one “free day” per week where you forget about your training plan and exercise in any way you please.

7. You’re trying too hard.

Unless you want to experience some nasty cravings, don’t deprive your body of pleasure. The more you tell yourself you can’t have a food, the more you’re going to want it. As long as you’re making positive choices 80-90% of the time, don’t sweat the occasional indulgence.

8. You don’t track your progress.

Keeping a written record of your training progress will help you sustain an “I CAN do this” attitude. All you need is a notebook and a pen. For every workout, record what exercises you do, the number of repetitions performed, and how much weight you used if applicable. Your goal? Do better next time. Improving your best performance on a regular basis offers positive feedback that will encourage you to keep going.

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9. You have no social support.

It can be hard to stay motivated when you feel alone. The good news? You’re not alone: far from it. Post a status on Facebook asking your friends if anybody would like to be your gym or accountability buddy. If you know a co-worker who shares your goal, try to coordinate your lunch time and go out together so you’ll be more likely to make positive decisions. Join a support group of like-minded folks on Facebook, LinkedIn, or elsewhere on the internet. Strength in numbers is powerful, so use it to your advantage.

10. You know your what but not your why.

The biggest reason why most New Year’s resolutions fail: you know what you want but you not why you want it.

Yes: you want to get fit, lose weight, or be healthy… but why is your goal important to you? For example:

Do you want to be fit so you can be a positive example that your children can admire and look up to?

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Do you want to lose fat so you’ll feel more confident and sexy in your body than ever before?

Do you want to be healthy so you’ll have increased clarity, energy, and focus that would carry over into every single aspect of your life?

Whether you’re getting in shape because you want to live longer, be a good example, boost your energy, feel confident, have an excuse to buy hot new clothes, or increase your likelihood of getting laid (hey, I’m not here to judge) is up to you. Forget about any preconceived notions and be true to yourself.

  • The more specific you can make your goal,
  • The more vivid it will be in your imagination,
  • The more encouraged you’ll be,
  • The more likely it is you will succeed (because yes, you CAN do this!).

I hope this guide to why New Year’s resolutions fail helps you achieve your goals this year. If you found this helpful, please pass it along to some friends so they can be successful just like you. What do you hope to accomplish next year?

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