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Healthy Living/ Preventive Care

8 DIY Stress Relief Tips

6 minute read

Stress. It’s something we all have and no one wants. But the good news is, there are some simple things you can do to help manage it on your own. So the next time you’re feeling stressed out, try one of these techniques to get back to your cool, calm and collected self. Here are 8 quick and easy DIY stress relief tips.

  1. 1. Just breathe

    You’ve been a pro at this since the moment you were born, and it’s one of the most effective things you can do to activate your body’s natural relaxation response. The key for stress relief is to practice focused breathing, which can decrease your metabolism, relax your muscles and lower your blood pressure.1 There are many breathing techniques you can try including basic deep breathing, using visual imagery while taking purposeful breaths, and slow, even breathing.2 But taking even one deep breath is enough to signal to your body that you’re turning off the stress response and turning on your “rest-and-restore” mode.3

  2. 2. Take a walk

    Getting rid of stress can be a walk in the park — literally. Studies have shown that people who walk regularly and do other forms of moderate exercise have lower stress levels than couch potatoes or people who exercise strenuously.4 In fact, walking stimulates your brain and improves your mood, which in turn can lower stress.5 This is especially true of walking out in the great outdoors, as studies show that calming sounds and the quiet of nature alike can lower blood pressure and stress hormones.6 If possible, walk and talk with a companion to get your mind off your worries.

  3. 3. Chew gum

    Sorry, mom, but gum really can be good for you. A number of studies show the simple act of repetitive chewing can be a quick way to relax, improve concentration and lower stress.7 While chewing gum may not be socially acceptable in many work situations, keep some in your back pocket to chew your way through a traffic jam or a crowd at the mall.8 Some teachers are even encouraging students to chew gum while taking tests because it helps them stay calm and focused. But don’t create any new problems — keep it sugarless to avoid both cavities and calories.

  4. 4. Laugh it off

    It may sound funny, but laughter really can be the best medicine for stress. In fact, just thinking about having some laughs is enough to lower your stress hormones.8 So call that funny friend who cracks you up or watch your favorite television comedy. And go ahead and try to laugh about the very thing that’s causing your stress, as this can actually help tension fade away.9 Bottom line: your sense of humor can get you through stressful times, so don’t lose it no matter what.

  5. 5. Simple Meditation

    We’ve all seen the image of someone sitting in a peaceful trance in a tranquil environment for a long period of time. For many of us, it’s hard to imagine incorporating that into our busy lives. But don’t despair. Anyone can meditate practically anywhere, in just a few minutes. Here are some easy steps to try10:

    • Sit somewhere that feels calm and quiet. It can be in a chair or on the floor, anywhere that’s comfortable.
    • Set a time limit. If 5 or 10 minutes is all you have, that’s okay.
    • Feel your breath. Think about your breathing in and out.
    • Notice when your mind wanders. Be aware of it and purposely return your attention to your breathing.
    • Don’t judge yourself. This is key. If you have trouble focusing, that’s okay. Just return your attention and keep coming back to your breathing.
    • Take a final moment to notice the sights and sounds of your environment. Pay attention to how your mind and body feels. Most likely, you’ll be calmer than before.
  6. 6. Listen to the music

    Music therapy is a growing field and research suggests music is a great way to enhance your mood quickly lower stress. Not only can music relax you, but it can get your mind off of whatever it is that’s causing your stress. Best of all, you don’t have to take time off to listen to music. Listen while working or doing chores and you’ll notice how much more pleasurable and less stressful these tasks become. Turn up your favorite tunes while you’re stuck in traffic and feel the stress of the situation melt away.

  7. 7. Talk to yourself

    No one around to talk you through it? You can do the job yourself. It’s all about being your own cheerleader, and also turning those negative thoughts into positive ones. For example, when that voice inside your head says “I can’t deal with this,” shoot back with, “Don’t worry, I’ll do the best I can.” Instead of saying “Everything is going wrong all at once,” try “I’ll take things one step at a time.” According to research, it may be even better to talk to yourself in the third person.11 This may sound strange, but it can be effective. The theory is that in the same way you can calmly give advice to a friend who’s going through a hard time, you’re more able to talk yourself through a stressful situation if you speak as though you’re not the one going through it.

  8. 8. Pamper at home

    A trip to the spa is always a great way to destress, but you may not always have the time and money to indulge. Try soaking a hand towel in hot water and placing it around your neck and shoulders to soothe away some of your stress. If it’s a stressful day and a professional massage is not in the cards, try placing a tennis ball between your back and the wall. Lean into it gently to break up the tension. Move it to another spot and repeat.

Sources:
1“Take a Deep Breath,” Kellie Marksberry, 8/10/12. Retrieved from
https://www.stress.org/take-a-deep-breath
2“Breathing Techniques for Stress Relief,” WebMD, reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar, MD, 1/7/18. Retrieved from
https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-relief-breathing-techniques - 1
3“12 Quick Mini-Meditations to Calm Your Mind and Body,” Meg Selig, 3/1/17. Retrieved from
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/changepower/201703/12-quick-mini-meditations-calm-your-mind-and-body
4“How Walking Can Boost Your Mood and Reduce Stress,” Wendy Bumgardner, 12/26/18. Retrieved from
https://www.verywellfit.com/walking-for-your-mind-and-spirit-3432871
5“How To Get The Biggest Benefits of Walking,” Sally Wadyka, 1/11/19. Retrieved from
https://www.consumerreports.org/exercise-fitness/benefits-of-walking/
6“Sour mood getting you down? Get back to nature,” Harvard Health Publishing, 7/2018. Retrieved from
https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/sour-mood-getting-you-down-get-back-to-nature
7“9 Surprising Benefits of Chewing Gum,” Hana Hong. Retrieved from
https://www.rd.com/health/wellness/benefits-of-chewing-gum/
8“10 Fast Stress-Busting Pick-Me-Ups,” WebMD. Retrieved from
https://www.webmd.com/balance/ss/slideshow-stress
9“Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke,” Mayo Clinic Staff, 4/21/16. Retrieved from
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456
10“How to Meditate,” mindful.org, 1/31/19. Retrieved from
https://www.mindful.org/how-to-meditate/
11“Talking to yourself isn’t crazy, it’s stress relief,” Mike Wehner, 7/27/17. Retrieved from
https://nypost.com/2017/07/27/talking-to-yourself-isnt-crazy-its-stress-relief/?sr_share=twitter&utm_campaign=SocialFlow&utm_medium=SocialFlow&utm_source=NYPTwitter
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