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7 Simple Ways to Lower Your Stress in 15 Minutes or Less

7 Simple Ways to Lower Your Stress in 15 Minutes or Less

Everyone feels overwhelmed and stressed sometimes.

  • Maybe you have a family situation that needs extra time and attention.
  • Maybe you have a particular co-worker that just somehow grates on your very last nerve.
  • Maybe you are ill or some you love is ill.

So what can you do when you feel angry, overwhelmed and stressed about the things you really have little control over?

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I believe that if you add preventative stress management into your daily lifestyle you can more easily control how you handle your reaction to the stressful situations that crop up.

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I would like to say that you can eliminate stress completely — but I can’t. However, there is a lot you can do to prepare yourself so when you are faced with these situations you can handle them with grace, an inner calm, and compassion.

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Follow these simple steps to invite peace and harmony into your life:

  1. Exercise. One way to work off stress and anxiety is to get moving. You can join a gym, work out in your bedroom or garage, or just take a walk. It’s a great way to get your endorphins going and feel happier.  You can also try exercising together with your family. One of the benefits of exercising together is that you’ll all feel calmer afterward. When you’re all de-stressed together, you can help one another through issues. To help you get started with exercising: How to Be Healthy and Lose Fat: The 3 Minute HIT Health Hack That Helps Burn Fat
  2. Smile. Smiling and laughing is one of the best ways to instantly lighten your mood.  A good joke with a friend, a good movie with your partner or just smiling at the sun shine.
  3. Listen to music. Try doing something mentally soothing to keep stress at bay. Music is one of the best ways to relax and de-stress, and it’s popular with people of all ages, income levels, and other factors. Pick the music you like; it’s usually more effective, though, when you choose something quiet. Listen to music that makes you feel rested and calm.  Try several different musical styles – you’ll know when you’re listening to something that works for you. And once you’ve located it, you can listen whenever you need to for a calming break.
  4. Read. Reading is also a good way to de-stress. Choose a lighthearted book that’s comical, romantic, or otherwise makes you feel good. You can also read a religious or spiritual book if you’re so inclined. Any book that gives a good, positive message about the world or the people in it can help you feel better and be more relaxed. Courtney has compiled a great list of books: 10 Must-Reads to Tap Into Your True Potential
  5. Visualization. Picture an idyllic and peaceful scene, such as a meadow or a beach, and use all of your senses. Do you smell jasmine in the air? Can you hear the birds singing and feel the light breeze on your skin? Your body can’t tell the difference between a thought and a real event, so bring your peaceful scene to mind the next time you’re feeling anxious. You can visualize the stress flowing out of your body or running off your back like water. You can visualize growing roots, just like an old oak tree, you can feel the stress draining into the earth and being absorbed my mother nature.
  6. Be grateful. When you’re feeling stressed, try counting your blessings. Write them down in a gratitude journal. There is always something you can be thankful for… sometimes it is as simple as waking up. Think about all the things that are good in your life.  When you focus on gratitude, you’ll also see more of the good in your life. When you think negatively, it’s easier to feel angry and stressed. Positive thinking, on the other hand, helps diffuse your anger and brings you more good things to feel good about!
  7. Breathe. When you are caught up in those really strong emotions that come with stress and overwhelm, take a moment to take a few slow, deep breaths. This action has multiple benefits. When you breathe deeply, it sends extra oxygen to your brain for clarity of thought and relaxes your muscles. It also gives you a moment to take a mental step back and look at the bigger picture.

When you give yourself time to think first, you’re much less likely to lash out, either verbally or physically. You can then approach the issue feeling calmer. By using the tools suggested here to help you stay positive, you can get a handle on your stress and enjoy greater happiness in your life.

Inspired Actions

Take just one idea, add 15 minutes, and feel your stress winding down. Leave a comment below to let me know how it went.

(Photo credit: Portrait of Sadness and Stress via Shutterstock)

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Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

There are many reasons why people might scream – they’re angry, scared, or in pain (or maybe they’re in a metal band!). Some might say that screaming is bad, but here’s why science says it’s good for you.

“For the first time in the history of psychology there is a way to access feelings, hidden away, in a safe way and thus to reduce human suffering. It is, in essence, the first science of psychotherapy.” — Dr. Arthur Janov

Primal Therapy

Dr. Arthur Janov invented Primal Therapy in the late 1960’s. It is a practice that allows the patient to face their repressed emotions from past trauma head on and let those emotions go. This treatment is intended to cure any mental illness the patient may have that surfaced from this past trauma. In most cases, Primal Therapy has lead Dr. Janov’s patients to scream towards the end of their session, though it was not part of the original procedure. During a group therapy session that was at a standstill, Dr. Janov says that one of his patients, a student he called Danny, told a story that inspired him to implement a technique that he never would have thought of on his own.

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How it Started

“During a lull in our group therapy session, he told us a story about a man named Ortiz who was currently doing an act on the London stage in which he paraded around in diapers drinking bottles of milk. Throughout his number, Ortiz is shouting, ‘Mommy! Daddy! Mommy! Daddy!’ at the top of his lungs. At the end of his act he vomits. Plastic bags are passed out, and the audience is requested to follow suit.”

It doesn’t end there, though. Dr. Janov said that his patient was quite fascinated with that story, and that alone moved him to suggest something even he believed to be a little elementary.

“I asked him to call out, ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ Danny refused, saying that he couldn’t see the sense in such a childish act, and frankly, neither could I. But I persisted, and finally, he gave in. As he began, he became noticeably upset. Suddenly he was writhing on the floor in agony. His breathing was rapid, spasmodic. ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ came out of his mouth almost involuntarily in loud screeches. He appeared to be in a coma or hypnotic state. The writhing gave way to small convulsions, and finally, he released a piercing, deathlike scream that rattled the walls of my office. The entire episode lasted only a few minutes, and neither Danny nor I had any idea what had happened. All he could say afterward was: ‘I made it! I don’t know what, but I can feel.’”

Delving deeper

Dr. Janov says he was baffled for months, but then he decided to experiment with another patient with the same method, which lead to a similar result as before. The patient started out calling “Mommy! Daddy!” then experienced convulsions, heavy breathing, and then eventually screamed. After the session, Dr. Janov says his patient was transformed and became “virtually another human being. He became alert… he seemed to understand himself.”

Although the initial intention of this particular practice wasn’t to get the patient to scream, more than once did his Primal Therapy sessions end with the patient screaming and feeling lighter, revived, and relieved of stresses that were holding them down in life.

Some Methods To Practice Screaming

If you want to try it out for yourself, keep reading!

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  • Step 1: Be Alone — Be alone. If you live in a place that you can’t be alone, it might be a good idea to talk to your family or roommates and explain to them what you’re about to do and make sure they’re okay with it. If you’re good to go, move on to step 2.
  • Step 2: Lie Down — Lie down on a yoga mat on your back and place a pillow underneath your head. If you don’t own a yoga mat, you can use a rug or even a soft blanket.
  • Step 3: Think — Think of things that have hurt you or made you angry. It can be anything from your childhood or even something that happened recently to make yourself cry, if you’re not already crying or upset. You could even scream “Mommy! Daddy!” just like Dr. Janov’s patients did to get yourself started.
  • Step 4: Scream — Don’t hold anything back; cry and scream as loud as you can. You can also pound your fists on the ground, or just lie there and scream at the top of your lungs.

After this, you should return your breathing to a normal and steady pace. You should feel lighter, like a weight has been lifted off of you. If not, you can also try these other methods.

Scream Sing

Scream singing” is referring to what a lot of lead singers in metal or screamo bands will do. I’ve tried it and although I wasn’t very good at it, it was fun and definitely relieved me of any stress I was feeling from before. It usually ends up sounding like a really loud grunt, but nonetheless, it’s considered screaming.

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  • Step 1 — Bear down and make a grunting sound.
  • Step 2 — Hiss like a snake and make sure to do this from your diaphragm (your stomach) for as long as you can.
  • Step 3 — Breathe and push your stomach out for more air when you are belting notes, kind of like you would if you were singing.
  • Step 4 — Try different ways to let out air to control how long the note will last, just make sure not to let out too much air.
  • Step 5 — Distort your voice by pushing air out from your throat, just be careful not to strain yourself.
  • Step 6 — Play around with the pitch of your screams and how wide your mouth is open – the wider your mouth is open, the higher the screams will sound. The narrower or rounder your mouth is (and most likely shaped like an “o”), the lower the screams will sound.
  • Step 7 — Start screaming to metal music. If you’re not a huge metal fan, it’s okay. You don’t have to use this method if you don’t want to.

If you want a more thorough walkthrough of how to scream sing, here’s a good video tutorial. If this method is too strenuous on your vocal chords, stop. Also, make sure to stay hydrated when scream singing and drink lots of water.

Scream into a pillow

Grab a pillow and scream into it. This method is probably the fastest and easiest way to practice screaming. Just make sure to come up for air.

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Always remember to make sure that you’re not going to disturb anyone while practicing any of these methods of screaming. And with that, happy screaming!

Featured photo credit: Sharon Mollerus via flickr.com

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