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3 Ways to Reduce Stress in 15 Minutes / Day (Without Exercising!)

3 Ways to Reduce Stress in 15 Minutes / Day (Without Exercising!)

A typical morning at my house begins like this:

• My daughter wakes me up at 5am and starts chattering nonstop like some sort of broken wind up doll.
• My dogs are whining and wanting their morning exercise.
• My husband rolls over and grumbles, reminding me that it’s never a good idea to bother a hibernating bear.
• I’m scrambling to get breakfast served before the impending toddler meltdown.
• Oh, and I haven’t made enough money this month, and my parents are coming over for dinner tonight, and the holidays are coming.

Thank goodness I don’t have a morning commute to deal with or I seriously think I’d lose it!

Modern life is incredibly stressful. All of our wonderful technological gadgetry is supposed to make life easier, but instead I am caught in some strange loop of checking my messages, texts, twitter feed, Facebook, email, and back again in a seemingly endless string of new responsibilities and ways I can now fail to respond to the people who rely on me.

It’s all a little bit much, don’t you think?

So I started to do some research on ways to reduce my stress, and I bet you can guess what I ran into: a whole bunch of advice about exercising more.

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Sure, add that to the list of things I “should” be doing. ;-)

OK, to be honest, I have been exercising more regularly, and it does help. But I knew that exercise wasn’t the end of the story. And for some people, getting to the gym just isn’t happening.

So what? They’re supposed to run right out and get a prescription for anti-anxiety medication?

I don’t think so.

Here’s my first recommendation to reduce your stress:

1) Take a hot bath

The other day I was listening to the John Tesh Radio Show and I heard about a study that showed that 15 minutes a day of submersion in hot water reduced anxiety more than anti-anxiety medication.

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What?!

Did I hear that correctly?

Yes, it’s true, a hot bath or some time in a hot tub can greatly reduce anxiety with virtually no negative side effects.

I have a hot tub and my husband and I do use it regularly, but after hearing about this study, I’ve been more likely to use it when I’m feeling stressed. It makes sense, I mean, when I was giving birth, relaxing in warm water was one of the things that helped me the most.

I will say that the money my husband and I spent on a used hot tub is hands down the most celebrated investment we have ever made. We sometimes regret having a big wedding because it was so expensive, but we have never regretted buying a hot tub. A hot bath every single day is probably not going to work for everyone, especially if you’re trying to keep your utility bill lower than your mortgage. So what else can we do to reduce our stress?

2) Go outside

Vitamin D kept showing up in my research. And since I do notice a seasonal increase in stress, I had to consider the possibility that I’m just not getting enough of it to keep my physiological stress levels in check. So, should I supplement with vitamin D? Well, sure, it won’t hurt; the recommended maximum daily allowance for an adult is 1000 UI. However, the best way to get a big dose of vitamin D is to spend about 10 minutes exposing your skin to natural daylight, if you’re light skinned, and about 20 minutes per day if you’re darker skinned.

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Yes, the vitamin D we get from spending 10 minutes a day outside in the sunshine can provide some relief to our system if it’s deficient in the nutrient. However, there’s something else that this daily practice provides.

When I was in college I took a class called “Environmental Psychology” and we looked at bunches of studies that showed that spending time outdoors and in nature greatly reduces stress levels, lowers blood pressure, and does a whole lot of other good stuff for our bodies.

It makes sense to me, since we evolved spending MOST of our time outdoors and now we spend almost all of our time indoors. Since practicing this one, I’ve noticed how calming it is to observe birds foraging or to hear them singing. I’ve listened to the wind rustle through the trees and watched the clouds slowly amble by.

This one works for me even when I just step out onto my porch or go hang out in the back yard. If you’re in a city, you might have to find a community garden or park to serve your needs. But just being outdoors for 15 minutes a day will definitely reduce your stress and improve your life. Oh, and if you walk while outdoors, then you’re exercising too!

There’s one more thing that greatly reduces stress and has nothing to do with going to the gym.

3) Laugh

Daily laughter can reduce your stress considerably, and it’s also a lot of fun! Whether you like to watch stand up comedians, late night talk shows, or make up silly songs with your kids, whatever makes you laugh fits the bill. And if you’re not laughing daily, it’s time to take the reins and make it happen.

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Easier said than done, right? Wrong! Laughter is easy when you’re feeling good, but it’s also easy to do when you’re down. You simply have to decide to do it. OK, now you’re thinking I’ve lost it, but have you ever heard of laughter yoga? It’s the practice of laughing because you’ve decided to, not because there’s anything particularly funny happening. But here’s the thing, once you start, it’s easy to continue. Laughter really is contagious!

You can start by simply acting it out, “Ha, ha, ha” and pretty soon you’re laughing at how silly you sound. This practice is best done among others because laughter really does spread from person to person. So, if you’re not yet laughing for 15 minutes a day, you no longer have any excuses. Try this one out and you’ll soon be hooked.

So, that’s it! These are my three favorite ways to reduce stress in 15 minutes a day without exercising. I hope you liked them and I would love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment below and let’s talk about what works and doesn’t work for you. Have a lovely day, Shelly

Featured photo credit:  mid adult italian woman banging her head against a wall via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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