Stress Relief for the Mind, Body & Soul
For many of us, stress is a part of daily life. But what exactly is it? By definition, stress is your body’s response to any change that causes a perception of pressure. Stress often presents as stomach issues, irritability, fatigue, muscle tension, or insomnia. However, stress of varying levels looks different for everybody. While small amounts of stress often foster growth, more intense stressors can create problems.
The constant stress of a busy life can lead to chronic emotional or physical tension. Whether caused by daily challenges or a major crisis, we all find ourselves overwhelmed by it at some point. Stress is usually thought of as being due to something negative. Yet, positive changes such as having a new baby or receiving a promotion at work can also cause it.
Everyone deals with stress in different ways. Often, people find themselves turning to unhealthy coping strategies. In the long run, these strategies end up doing more harm than good. Whether you are looking for relief for your mind, body, or soul, below are some healthy ways to ease stress.
- Create art. Creativity is a great release for pent-up emotions. Even if you’re not artistic, some colored pencils and an adult coloring book will suffice!
- Journal. Writing about what you are grateful for can ease stress by helping you focus on the positives in life.
- Practice mindfulness. Spending time alone with your thoughts may sound daunting. Yet, studies have shown that it works. Many people focus on the future or the past. Focusing on the present instead will reduce stress-inducing thoughts.
- Meditate. Training the mind to focus on one thing at a time can ease stress. Meditation also provides a great headspace for practicing mindfulness. While helpful in the short term, long-term stress management will also grow.
- Spend time with your pet. If you don’t have one, spend some time at your local humane society or offer to take care of a friend’s pet for the day.
- Practice yoga. Studies have shown that yoga can act as an antidepressant, enhance mood, and reduce stress. There are many follow-along online yoga videos to try for some free, at-home relaxation.
- Exercise regularly. In the short-term, exercise increases endorphins and improves sleep. Long-term, it can lower the level of stress hormones in the body.
- Maintain healthy eating and drinking habits. A nutrient-dense diet ensures your body has everything it needs to handle stress. Stay hydrated and avoid high amounts of caffeine, as it can have a stress-like effect on the body.
- Practice deep breathing. Stress can increase heart rate, constrict blood vessels and shorten breath. To combat this, spend a few minutes focusing on breathing deeply.
- Enjoy aromatherapy. Essential oils can have calming effects on the body. Lavender, clary sage, and chamomile are the often used examples, but there are many more. Try using some in a diffuser, candle, room spray, or lotion!
- Spend time with friends and family. Spending time with loved ones causes oxytocin, a ‘feel-good’ hormone, to be released. It will also help build a sense of social connection.
- Live by your values. Stress can be self-inflicted when your actions don’t reflect your beliefs. Take the time to analyze key aspects in your daily life and make sure they reflect your internal values.
- Practice saying ‘no’. Only say ‘yes’ to things you can handle and really want to do. This will end some of the unnecessary stress.
- Set realistic goals for yourself. Making smaller goals that lead up to a big goal will make it seem more obtainable and less overwhelming. The same (or even better!) results will be achieved.
- Reduce triggers of stress. Identify the triggers of your stress. If this stressor does not serve you a purpose, it may be time to let it go.