Everybody has stressful days, whether they’re a working professional, a student, or a full-time parent. One stressful day isn’t the end of the world. But, if you have a hard time managing stress, it’s easy for one bad day to turn into two, and, before you know it, you’re struggling with chronic stress and all of its negative effects.
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Chronic stress can contribute to a variety of problems, from tension headaches to an increased risk of developing heart disease . Stress also hinders your immune system and makes it harder for you to recover when you’re sick.
six simple and effective ways to help naturally de-stress and stay relaxed
When it comes to finding ways to avoid chronic stress, it’s important to start with natural stress management techniques rather than turning to alcohol or drugs. These might make you feel good temporarily, but they’re not long-term solutions. Listed below are six simple and effective ways to help naturally de-stress and stay relaxed.
All forms of exercise can be beneficial for stress relief. But, yoga and stretching are particularly beneficial. This is because stress triggers the body’s “fight or flight” response and causes it to tense up.
Stretching helps overhaul the fight or flight response and sends fresh blood to the muscles to relieve this tension. Stretching also sends fresh blood the brain, which can improve your mood and make it easier for you to let things go.
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In addition to stretching, self-massage can also help relieve muscle tension brought on by stress. Some easy ways to get a spa-quality massage without spending a ton of money include:
- Use a portable neck massager
- Roll out the tension in the shoulders or feet with a tennis ball or foam roller
- Place a heat wrap around the shoulders and neck
All of these options will improve circulation and loosen up tight muscles to leave you feeling refreshed and relaxed.
Spending time outdoors has been proven to improve mood and relieve stress . It can also make it easier for you to get a good night’s sleep — a must for avoiding chronic stress — by resetting your circadian rhythm.
You don’t have to drive to the mountains to reap the benefits of being outdoors. Take a walk around your neighborhood after work, or eat your dinner outside to enjoy some fresh evening air.
If you find yourself getting stressed out more often than not, it’s helpful to take some time to sit down with a journal and figure out what your stressors are.
At the end of a stressful day, write down how you’re feeling and try to think back to what set off your stress.
You might also want to keep your journal with you throughout the day so that you can write down your triggers as soon as you notice them. The more aware you are of what stresses you out, the better you’ll be able to cope.
A number of studies have shown that meditation is highly beneficial for those who have a difficult time managing their stress. A daily meditation practice can help you catch your triggers and manage your response to avoid the ramifications of long-term stress.
A meditation practice doesn’t need to be long or complicated. Simply sitting quietly for a few minutes while you focus on your breath is all it takes. Don’t worry if thoughts arise or if you start to feel antsy — just acknowledge what’s happening and return to your breath. With practice, you’ll soon be able to adopt the same response when stressors come along.
Sometimes, spending time with a friend is all you need to feel better after a stressful day. Meeting up with people you love in person is great. But, talking to them on the phone or via video chat is also good for maintaining connections and minimizing stress and anxiety. Your friend may also be able to help you get a new perspective on whatever stressed you out.
Don’t let one bad day turn into weeks of chronic stress. Keep these tips in mind to destress naturally and maintain a positive mindset. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is all about what you do day in, and day out. One of the most-powerful mindsets I’ve ever come across is that one’s state of mind is only temporary—and all things pass. While this might feel impossible to believe, working each day to lower stress levels can have a magnificent impact over the long haul.
- Krantz, D S, and M K McCeney. “Effects of Psychological and Social Factors on Organic Disease: a Critical Assessment of Research on Coronary Heart Disease.” Annual Review of Psychology., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2002, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11752489.
- Berto, R. “The Role of Nature in Coping with Psycho-Physiological Stress: a Literature Review on Restorativeness.” Behavioral Sciences (Basel, Switzerland)., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 21 Oct. 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25431444.