11 Things You Can Do Today To Reduce Stress In Your Life
You've got a stack of work in front of you, a thousand emails to get through, and you totally forgot you committed to dinner with your mom's friend's co-worker's son from out of town. You're majorly on edge, and you need some ways to reduce stress right now or you're going to lose it.
Sound familiar? I know it does for me. For most of us, life can get pretty busy, and no matter how much we may ultimately like our jobs, prioritize work-life balance, or strive for calm, sometimes (slash a lot of the time) things pile up and we're suddenly mega stressed out.
And while some stress is inevitable, a lot of daily dress can actually have some pretty serious negative effects on our lives. According to the Mayo Clinic, high levels of daily has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
Not only that, but according to the Stress and Anxiety Association of America, stress has been shown to interfere with sleep, meaning that the more stressed out you are, the more and more exhausted (and stressed) you can start to feel.
Basically, stress is no freaking fun. And yet it's unfortunately an inevitable part of life. The good news is there are definitely things you can do every day that can instantly make you feel a little better. Here are 11 fast and easy tips for relieving stress almost immediately.
1. Pump Up The Tunes
According to a 2013 study published by the University of Missouri, listening to upbeat music can actually improve your mood. The study's author, Yuna Ferguson, noted that it's important not to overthink, "Am I happy yet?" while listening, and instead just allow yourself to enjoy the experience. So try turning up the your favorite jams when stress is getting the best of you.
2. Say No To Something
According to the Mayo Clinic, sometimes one of our greatest sources of stress is our tendency to over-commit ourselves, resulting in a feeling of over-extension and an inability to get everything done. A simple solution is to just make saying no more of a priority. If the idea of committing to something stresses you out, don't feel bad about saying no. Sometimes you just need to prioritize your own well-being.
3. Walk Through A Green Space
According to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, walking specifically through green spaces, like parks and woods, is one of the best ways to unwind. The study sites that it's because these spaces allow for "involuntary attention," which means they hold our attention while also allowing for some internal reflection.
According to holistic medicine expert Dr. Andrew Weil, breathing is one of the fastest and most effective ways to calm your system and reduce stressful feelings. He advocates the 4-7-8 breathing technique on his website, in which you breath in for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and breath out for eight.
5. Apply Pressure To Your Hands
According to Sharon Melnick, author of Success Under Stress, in a piece for The Huffington Post, putting pressure on the space between our pointer and middle finger instantly creates a sense of calm. “It activates a nerve that loosens the area around the heart, so any of that fluttery feeling you feel when you’re nervous will end up going away,” she said.
Seriously. According to a study featured in Forbes, there's a reason why we curse when mad or upset — it genuinely helps to relieve feelings of tension and distress by activating a certain part of our brains. So the next time you're feeling overwhelmed, don't be afraid to close the door and let the F-bombs fly.
7. Watch A Guided Relaxation Video
I know it might sound hokey, but guided relaxation videos have helped me so much when I'm on edge. There are a ton of options on YouTube like the one featured above, and they seriously work wonders if you give them a chance!
8. Chew Some Gum
Extra Sugar Free Gum, $9.99, Drugstore.com
According to a study featured in Medical News Today out of Swinburne University in Melbourne, chewing gum might help decrease our stress hormone levels and therefor help with anxious moments. Even if the jury isn't 100 percent in on this one, it's so easy that it's definitely worth a shot.
9. Disconnect, If You Can
According to a study featured in Everyday Health, constantly checking our phones and feeling like we need to respond to every alert, beep, or bing creates more stress in our lives. Dr. Richard Balding, the study's author said, "The more they're being used the more we're actually becoming a bit dependent upon them, and actually courting stress instead of relieving it." So try to take cell phone holidays every few days, or at the very least turn off message alerts when you come home so you're checking your phone on your terms.
10. Get Some Sleep
According to a study out of Harvard, routinely not getting enough sleep has negative effects on both our mood and on our stress-coping abilities. So if you're sleep deprived, odds are you're not going to be in the best place to deal with everyday stressors.
11. Light That Scented Candle
And finally, don't forget to always have your favorite scented candle on hand. A 2009 study published on PubMed.org found that teens who received aromatherapy were significantly less stressed than those who received a placebo, indicating that it could be a very effective treatment for stress management.
Stress is inevitable, but it doesn't have to inevitably ruin your day. Have a few of the above tricks up your sleeve the next time you feel stress getting the best of you, and start feeling better instantly.
Images: Andrew Zaeh for Bustle; Pexels (11)