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6 Things Anyone Can Do To Greatly Lower their Stress Levels

6 Things Anyone Can Do To Greatly Lower their Stress Levels

The feeling is one of sickening familiarity. A tightening in your chest. Beads of sweat spilling off your skin. An aggressive buzzing in your brain that feels like someone has stuffed a disturbed hornets’ nest inside your head. It’s one of the most overwhelming emotions that every single human is forced to contend with almost on a daily basis. Panic, anxiety, and helplessness all violently crammed into one unpleasant little parcel: the sensation of stress.

No one is exempt or safe from this exhausting emotion. Not even that happy-go-lucky chap you see strolling down the street whistling “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life”. Even he will succumb to the overpowering thud of stress from time to time. Whilst it may be of no solace to hear that you’re not the only one who occasionally feels like their head may explode, the fact that everyone has stressful episodes remains a valid point. Stress, whichever way you look at it, is part of the human condition. If there’s one thing humans are good at, it’s finding ways to deal with the issues the body can create, and make life easier for ourselves as a result.

Stress is so common that many people choose to ignore it, knowing it will ease up by the time they hit the hay. Without apposite management, stress can manifest itself into something much more serious. Listed here are 6 proven ways to cope with stress, allowing you to continue living your life in a healthy, happy manner.

1. Breathe

The stress-relief technique that pretty much everyone’s heard of, the act of breathing nonetheless remains an important point as any when it comes to cooling down the angry blood that’s raging around your body. Taking a long, deep breath to calm yourself in stressful situations isn’t just one of those old wives’ tales that your grandmother used to swear by – it’s medically proven to be beneficial.

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Slow, deep breathing distracts the mind from whatever else might be going on, and actively lowers the bubbling blood that’s brought on by stress. What’s more, cortisol – a hormone released in the body in response to stress – is significantly lowered after taking long inhalations of fresh air, allowing your brain and body to return to their normal functions. It may sound strange, but practicing breathing can help you to build up a tolerance towards the impact that stress has on your life. By partaking in yoga sessions, engaging in frequent breathing exercises, and meditating, you can train your body to become one big relaxation machine – counteracting the horrid effects when Mr Stress comes a-calling.

2. Write

Stress can build up in anyone who is left to their own thoughts for too long. Without a frequent source of release, the mind can become clouded with concern, panic, and extreme frustration. Humans weren’t meant to be left to their own imaginations.

Instead of allowing a bewildering jumble of thoughts and ideas to bump around inside your head, let them tumble out onto your computer keyboard or notepad instead. Type away at your desk and channel your emotions into your hard-drive. Scribble your feelings onto a piece of paper. They don’t even have to make sense. Just punch away at your computer on a day-to-day basis for five or ten minutes, and you might be surprised at how light, airy and carefree you feel afterwards.

3. Walk

One of the most effective techniques for dealing with stress often raises a few eyebrows, but a whole host of scientific evidence exists to suggest that walking is one of the best methods available.

If you’re ever feeling the tension building up in your brain and body, drop everything and simply go for a stroll. Keep yourself at a nice, leisurely pace, and breathe normally. Walking provides your body with an ideal outlet for the build-up of energy that stress can create, and acts as a sensory distraction for the brain as your mind is forced to take in a plethora of sights, smells, sounds and signals.

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After you try it once, and undoubtedly recognize its benefits, be sure to make exercise a regular thing. Providing the body with a healthy, frequent method of releasing accumulated energy is a great way to help fend off the effects that stress can impose, and ultimately keeps you fit and healthy as a result.

4. Laugh

If you’re stressed, the last thing you probably feel like doing is laughing. But if you are able to muster up even the smallest chuckle during your day, you’ll soon begin to find that the effects of stress slowly slip away.

When we laugh, the body releases happy hormones called endorphins, which actively counteract the blood-boiling chemicals that are produced when stress hits home. Laughing allows us to take in a momentous supply of fresh oxygen from the air, stimulating the muscles and providing our system with some healthy shock treatment that eases tension brought on by stress.

If you ever begin to experience that oh-so-familiar feeling amplifying inside you, take a break to flick through some online joke sites, watch some funny YouTube clips, or scroll through some old photos of you and your family/friends that always cheer you up. Laughing is something we need to do every day to stay healthy, and is great way to keep the nasty effects of stress at bay.

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5. Friends

Surrounding yourself with the people you love can ultimately be half the battle to combating stress. Even the most confident people feel most comfortable when in the company of others that they’ve come to know and love, and whilst going out to meet new guys and girls often has great results in the long-term, it can often be a difficult and mildly stressful experience initially.

If you ever catch yourself with your chin in your hands and a throb in your head, reach for the phone, ring someone you love, and arrange to do something fun. Even sitting at home with a cup of tea and a friend can really help to relieve high levels of stress as it focuses your mind onto something you love. What’s more, it gives you a perfect outlet to vent some frustration. After all, that’s what friends are for.

6. Sleep

More recently in society, the human body has been forced to adapt to being constantly surrounded by moving images. Of course, this wasn’t always the case, and the constant exposure to glowing screens is in fact able to generate stress given how it prevents us from sleeping correctly.

Basically our lives are balanced by circadian rhythms – a set of strict patterns that the body operates by so that we can eat, sleep, rest, play and function without feeling constantly drained. Ultimately, high exposure to glowing screens disrupts our circadian rhythms, meaning that when it’s time to hit the sack, the body doesn’t necessarily feel ready to shut down.

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Sleep is absolutely essential for avoiding high stress levels. Everyone needs good amounts of rest, and by remaining glued to a computer screen for the entire day without taking a break, your body will suffer the consequences, and stress will rise as a result. Take frequent breaks away from the screen, get some sleep, and see your stress ease up.  

Featured photo credit: Teenage girl depression – lost love – isolated on white background via shutterstock.com

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Gareth Lloyd

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Last Updated on May 22, 2019

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

1. Cat Camel Stretch

Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

Here’s a video to guide you through:

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2. Go for a Walk or a Run

This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

3. Jumping Jacks

Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

4. Abductor Side Lifts

Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

5. Balancing Table Pose

This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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    6. Leg Squats

    Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

    Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

    The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

    7. Push Ups

    You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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    An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

    Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

    This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

    8. Bicycle Crunches

    There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

    Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

    9. Lunges

    Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

    Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

    This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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    10. Bicep Curls

    You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

    Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

    Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

    Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

    Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

    These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

    You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

    Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

    More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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