In stressful situations, it can be tempting to take the easy way out and deal with our problems in unhealthy ways. Sometimes it can feel like there's so end to the debilitating stress we experience, but we can help alleviate our anxiety in both the present and the longterm by choosing to participate in healthy ways to relieve stress.
Many Americans are chronically stressed, whether it's about money, work, families, or relationships. This ongoing worry can cause major health issues down the line, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and skin issues, so it's important to try to eliminate stress as much as possible.
"Make 'me time,' or self-care, an essential part of your life," says Nikki Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC to Bustle over email. "It does not have to be a long time you set aside each day, but that little window adds up to a lot of relaxation and stress reduction." Staying active, getting a good amount of sleep, and eating well can all help improve your stress levels, so turning these into daily habits can help lower your stress overall.
If you're looking to find a quick way to relieve stress, try one of these six healthy habits that can help make you calm and reduce your anxiety.
Many studies have found that repeated exercise is a great antidote to stress, helping to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. "It causes a rise in endorphins which make you feel good," says Dr. Scott Schreiber over email. Focusing on exercise while at the gym allows you to leave the day's tension at he door.
2. Take A Shower
"Researchers have discovered that you actually can wash away negative feelings and negative thoughts like decision doubt, remorse, and guilt by taking a shower or bathing after an event or experience that causes these kinds of thoughts and feelings," says psychology expert Dr. Joseph Cilona to Bustle over email. When you take a shower, you lower your levels of cortisol, a stress hormones, so next time you're feeling a bit anxious, just pop right into the bathroom for a quick fix.
3. Do Something Philanthropic
"Giving with the intent to help others (as in philanthropic activities) and altruism in general has long been associated with positive effects, both psychological and physical," says Cilona. Studies show that helping others out with their problems can actually reduce your own stress levels, so go ahead and volunteer to not only make the world a better place, but improve your personal wellbeing.
Studies have found that mindfulness meditation can help reduce anxiety, depression, and stress, and it's as simple as either sitting quietly or just putting an increased focus on your thoughts. "It allows for insight from within, which can clarify behavior and life actions," says nutritional therapist and life coach Darshi Shah, CNT, CPT, INHC to Bustle over email. "It can also mediate emotional chaos and create a great stillness and stability which mediates stress during times of conflict.
It might sound crazy, but having a good laugh can actually have physiological effects on the body, including muscle relaxation, lowered blood pressure, and lower cortisol levels. Go to a comedy show with friends or turn on Netflix, and not only will you have a good distraction, but you'll release the physical tension in your body.
7. Focus On Positive Thinking
Research has found that optimistic thinking can lead to greater emotional wellbeing, lowered stress and anxiety, and better stress management. "The more you focus on positive thinking and repeat good thoughts, the more your brain develops positive neural pathways, and the less effective the negative neural pathways become," says life coach Dr. Simone Ravicz to Bustle over email. "Positive neural pathways lead to positive thoughts, feelings, and productive, healthy actions."
Relieving stress is important for everyone, so why not just find the healthiest way possible to relax?