Everyone experiences stress regularly due to various circumstances, from small irritations to serious upheavals. Stress is the body’s reaction to the many demands of daily life. It allows us to respond rapidly to risks and escape threats (1). However, repeated stress responses can harm your emotional and physical health or well-being.
You often cannot avoid all of the situations that cause stress. Yet, you do have some control over how you respond to such events. It is important to develop healthy and effective ways to calm your mind and body (2). No single stress-relieving method works for everyone, but below is a list of possible techniques that can be done anywhere.
Slow deep breaths can help lower heart rate, decrease blood pressure, and calm your mind. There are several breathing exercises, but many suggest breathing in slowly through your nose, holding for one second, and then gradually exhaling.
Forming mental images in your mind of a place that makes you happy can have a calming effect. Close your eyes and visualize that place that brings you comfort and peace. Incorporate as many details as you can into your image.
Emotional freedom technique Tapping is designed to bring balance and positive energy to your whole body and is a form of self-soothing (more on that in the next line). The technique involves tapping the body in certain places and at a certain rhythm and some people swear by it not only for anxiety and stress relief but also for mild pain relief!
There are many different ways to self-soothe yourself and is best used when dealing with frustration or intense emotions. This can be as simple as having something textured to feel and ground yourself with to brushing your arm with a smooth baby brush. In fact, any skin contact will work, it’s about being nice to yourself and grounding yourself with the sensations it is doing to you.
Take a Walk
Exercising is a great stress reliever. Taking a quick stroll around the office or the block can change your mindset. The movement and change of scenery help revitalize your spirit.
Standing up for a quick stretch can be relaxing and decrease muscle tension. You can do arm stretches or shoulder rolls for some fast relief while sitting.
While it is best to do moring/daily affirmations in the mirror and as loud as you can muster it is also a good way to boost your self-esteem and current mood by doing them under your breath. Using words like “I Am” or “I Can” will help bring yourself back to the present moment and feel much better, but simply telling yourself you are feeling better and you are in control!
Count to ten slowly, then count back again from ten to soothe your mind and help you relax.
Listen to Music
Listening to music (any song) can improve one’s mood. Singing the lyrics out loud can make many situations better, though it can be difficult to do in public.
Try a DIY hand massage to help calm a fast heart rate. Use lotion and knead the base of muscles under the thumb to relieve tension in the neck and shoulders (3).
(1) Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Stress: Ways to ease stress. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/8133-stress-10-ways-to-ease-stress
(2) Scott, E. (2021, July 29). 17 highly effective stress relievers. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/tips-to-reduce-stress-3145195
(3) University of Colorado. (2018, October 10). 25 quick ways to reduce stress. https://www.colorado.edu/law/25-quick-ways-reduce-stress