You want to reduce stress? Of course you do.
A little stress is good, it keeps us motivated and focused.
But the vast majority of us have too much, and that isn’t healthy. We need to find a way to relax
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11 Ways to Relax & Reduce Stress
Here are some great ways to relax. They are by no means all of the stress reducers in the world, but they are some of the easiest and most fun.
Use one at a time or mix and match – have fun & relax. That’s the whole point.
Exercise is number one on the list for a good reason – it can reduce stress in so many different ways.
It opens up your circulation by releasing nitrous oxide. Yep, that’s laughing gas.
This relaxes your blood vessels and reduces stress on your heart by reducing blood pressure.
Exercise reduces the stress hormone cortisol. And less cortisol means improved concentration, better sleep and even weight loss.
As the stress dominoes continue fall in the face of regular exercise, it will also improve your confidence and sense of well being. There’s no downside to exercising.
Even if you’re a beginner, yoga can quickly reduce stress and help you find serenity.
Better balance, increased strength and flexibility will improve the way you feel.
Yoga helps you focus on your body in a way that is like giving yourself a massage from the inside.
And the most stress reducing part of yoga is that it’s focus on breathing and balance helps you to be present in the now.
I have my own personal yoga routine that I do every day.
If you want to get started on yoga I recommend that you take a beginner class or carefully follow instructions from the pro’s.
Most importantly start slowly and don’t over do it.
3. Deep Breathing
What could be easier than this?
If you breath deeply and slowly it creates a biofeedback loop that tells your body that you’re safe, secure and should feel relaxed.
You can start this before you even finish reading this post.
Try this – it’s called boxed breathing:
Breath in for a long count of three, hold the breath for the same count, breath out slowly count three, and then hold your lungs empty and count three.
Repeat as many times as you like.
Do it for a longer or shorter count – whatever works for you – but make sure the inhale and exhale are deep and slow and all the counts are the same.
In addition to the loop, deep breathing thoroughly oxygenates your blood and helps to detoxify by activating the limbic system. That helps the body to de-stress on a molecular level.
Being 100% in the present moment is mindfulness.
When all of your concentration is focused on what your doing right at this moment, there is no room for the negative thoughts.
Regrets about the past and fears about the future are impossible when all of your attention is in the present.
You can try this right now. Focus completely on what you’re doing. Right now you happen to be reading. Shut all other thoughts out.
Do this for whatever you are doing at the moment.
We, as a society have become so used to thinking that we have to multitask all the time that this simple act has become elusive. Think about it.
How many times do you catch yourself thinking about what you are going to do next. Do you forget to listen to those who you are talking to because you are already thinking of a response? We miss out on so much thinking about what we are going to do next.
For example, if you’re washing your hands,
- what it look’s like- hands are really cool if you consider them.
- what it smells like – the soap, the towel.
- what it feels like – the skin of one hand rubbing soap on the other in the warmth of the water.
When you focus like this on the present, even the most mundane tasks can be a pleasure and a stress reducer.
For a great book on this check out Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now
5. Friends & Family
Friends and family can be a great source of comfort .
But in the high-speed-screen-time world we live in real human connections and honest familiarity is more comforting than you know.
Friends and family balance the stresses from other parts of your life.
Without deadlines and performance reviews, friends and family – provide a safe space where you can be yourself.
At the end of the day these are the people who really know you and they love you.
Our pets are family but I think that pets deserve their own category of stress relief.
Pets help us to be present – they can’t talk so we pay closer attention to their expressions and they are great at training us to learn what they need and want.
People who have pets have lower blood pressure & cholesterol levels.
If you have a pet you’re more likely to get outside and get more exercise – dog’s love to go for walks.
And people who have pets are less lonely.
If you’re on the fence about adopting a pet check out what the CDC says about the benefits.
Seventy percent of communication is nonverbal.
We feel less stress when we feel like we’re understood and loved.
Your body releases the love hormone oxytocin and suppresses the stress hormone cortisol when you are in close physical contact with someone you love.
Cuddling reduces blood pressure and boosts the immune system.
There is even “cuddle therapy” for anxiety patients.
And, it just really feels good.
So go find your lovey-dove, rottweiler, kitten or even your kid, and cuddle away – it’s good for you.
You have seen our chubby chicken all over the Spring Chicken Club site? I love that chicken because he always makes me laugh.
Not only is it fun but laughing is a really great way to reduce your stress.
Laughter stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles to absorb more oxygen.
And it stimulates circulation to get that oxygen where it needs to go.
A good rolling belly laugh will activate and then relieve your stress response which will ultimately relax you and lower your blood pressure.
Studies show that music has some great biochemical effects on your body.
Music relieves stress by slowing your heart rate. It increases serotonin and endorphin levels in your brain.
Everything from productivity, pain relief and weight loss is helped along by music.
Add some music to your day, it will make you feel good and the relaxation is great too.
10. Learn to Say No
To many of us feel obligated to buy stuff we don’t need, do things we don’t want and impress people we don’t like.
I got this from Sarah Knight book The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*#k.
One of the great things about being a little more mature is that you can find your way past trying to impress.
Say yes to the stuff you want and for the rest, try a nice kind good quality “no”.
You don’t need to go into some long explanation or make excuses. It is easier to just say “no thank you” and move on.
Excuses just make saying no harder, and even little white lies can create uncomfortable awkwardness when they are discovered.
So when a coworker you barely know invites you to their kids ice-fishing tournament, try just saying “no thank you”.
You don’t have to compare it scratching a chalkboard and you don’t say “oh, I’d love to but ….(insert white lie here)”
The easiest thing is a nice polite “no.”
11. Avoid Procrastination
Ironic that I saved this one for last because procrastination is a huge stresser for me – Procrastinating about writing about procrastination- that’s funny.
For me it’s maintenance and cleaning projects.
Having something hanging over your head that you know needs to get done creates a tremendous amount of unnecessary stress.
If there is something that you don’t want to do or your’re scared of doing, for whatever reason you convince yourself that there is no better time than tomorrow. That thought pattern turns into “I’ll do it Monday”, next month or never.
But if you’re honest with yourself, you know the best time is now.
I have seen a lot of great self-help stuff about this, but the best is Eat That Frog. The premise is to be honest with yourself and do the thing you’re avoiding first. This allows you to stop stress in it’s tracks and you can be more productive for the rest of the day.
The thing you’re avoiding is “your frog” and as Mark Twain put so eloquently put it, “if you eat a live frog first thing in the morning, nothing worse will happen for the rest of the day.”
The Takeaway on How to Reduce Stress
As you may have already noticed that there are basically three ways to reduce stress.
1. Do the things you should do NOW.
2. Make time to do what makes you happy.
3. Don’t do things you don’t want to unless it is something you should do (I’m not suggesting you don’t pay your taxes, even though it sucks).
Now go forth and relax, reduce stress, and be the Spring Chicken you want to be.
Live Well & Enjoy,