13-ish Things to Reduce Stress
Here is a list of stress reducing techniques that can be done right now to bring some calm to your life. The coaching system I offer identifies triggers that cause stress, so that my clients can learn to manage their reactions more effectively by shifting beliefs for stress reduction. But I like to use complementary methods and techniques to support the progress they make and for immediate relief – which we all need.
It is up to you which method or technique you choose. If you have tried something in the past that just didn’t do it for you then try something else or a combination of a couple. The brief, bulleted list is below for those who don’t like to read a lot and then further down are more details for each bullet. I hope you find this useful!
The Short List
Food (not the “comfort” kind)
Love and Hugs
Meditation – research suggests that daily meditation can actually alter your neural pathways making you more resilient to stress.
Mindfulness – sit comfortably, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. Breathe in and out through your nose focusing on the feeling of air coming in and leaving your nostrils. You may also choose to focus on the rise and fall of your chest or stomach. Whichever you choose, the idea is to have a focal point so when your mind wanders you can gently refocus on your breath. Even 5 minutes a day is beneficial. A little meditation is better than no meditation.
Repeating mantras – you may find that repeating a mantra while focusing on breath suits you better. Choose something like “I am peaceful” or “I am calm” for example to repeat in sync with your breath.
Guided meditation – sitting or lying comfortably reclined (but not all the way because you may fall asleep) while listening to guided meditation where someone gently talks you through a visualization. I find it very important to enjoy the person’s voice otherwise I’ll be distracted by it. There are many available on YouTube or for purchase.
Isochronic tones or binaural beats – many recorded meditations use these techniques to entrain your brainwaves. If you are unfamiliar with entrainment, it is the synchronization to an external rhythm. Isochronic tones have a volume or intensity that create a distinctive pulse of sound that goes almost directly from 0 to 100 and back again in an evenly spaced manner. Earphones are not required for listening to isochronic tones. Binaural beats however do require earphones because two different frequencies are presented separately to each ear. Your brain “hears” the two different tones and produces a sensation of a third sound called the binaural beat. Both techniques are designed to put your brain in the same activity state as when you meditate using tradition methods. You may prefer one to the other so try them both!
Ujjayi breath (ooo-JAI-yee) – my favorite! This is a breathing technique used in yoga. Very basically, breathing is done in and out of the nose constricting the throat in order to make an ocean sound. I find it very grounding and soothing and it can accomplish a sense of relaxation in only 3 deep and slow breaths. Super simple to do at any time during the day. More focus on the breath and deeper relaxation is achieved when the eyes are closed.
Self-hypnosis – there are a lot of recorded self-hypnosis CDs or MP3s available for any number of things including stress reduction.
Listen to soothing music – lower your blood pressure and heart beat with nature sounds, light classical, or spa music. Or do the opposite and dance and sing out loud to your favorite tunes for tension release!
Exercise – running, walking, yoga, workout routine. Exercise releases endorphins and can also improve sleep.
Journaling – write your little heart out! For some people just getting in the flow of writing is a fantastic stress reliever. Try writing down things you are grateful for or that you find fun, beautiful, or heart-warming. When you are feeling a little down in the dumps go back and read what you wrote that makes you feel good.
Laughing – Good ol’ endorphins at work! Find someone or something that tickles your funny bone and have a good belly laugh to reduce stress.
Learn what triggers your reaction to stress and nip it in the bud. My system helps you identify these consciously so you can begin to identify them before you react. This gives you a chance to reduce the impact of stress before it happens.
Creative outlets – painting, drawing, sculpting, etc. I have found that painting walls gets me in a Zen zone! Creative outlets require your attention in the now. You are focused on what you are doing at the moment and being present doing that. Very Zeniful!
Aromatherapy – essential oils (single or blends), candles, incense. Find a scent that you find relaxing. Lavender is known to reduce stress and it is relatively easy to find lavender scented candles. You can use an essential oil (lavender or a blend) in a diffuser to scent your space and promote relaxation. I put some essential oil on a cotton ball and put in my pillow case for a restful night’s sleep. I also use a salt lamp with a diffuser in my office.
Orange and the scent of coffee has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress.
Massage – this is a given! Feels great, releases toxins, designated you time without distractions.
Get outdoors – “forest bathing”, love it! I’m sure many people know the benefits of being outdoors but it is the Japanese that coined the phrase and formalized it by conducting research. Forest bathing improves mood, reduces stress and improves the immune system. Studies in Japan attribute this to breathing in phytoncide (wood essential oils; a-pinene and limonene). Antimicrobial compounds emitted from trees that protect them from insects and rot are also beneficial for people.
Food – a sampling of some foods whose vitamins help to alleviate stress and anxiety. Don’t reach for those fatty comfort foods that will end up making you feel worse – try incorporating the foods below into your diet to be a proactive stress manager!
Avocados, almonds, milk, and tuna have plenty of stress-relieving B vitamins which are needed to make serotonin which positively affects your mood
Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and oranges are high in antioxidants and vitamin C which has been shown to combat stress by reducing cortisol levels.
Asparagus, chickpeas, lentils, dark leafy greens, even oatmeal and orange juice contain folate (folic acid) which helps make dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure.
Chamomile tea – shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety
Reiki – a Japanese technique that promotes relaxation, healing, and stress reduction. Check out my website for more information if you are new to Reiki.
Love and hugs – who doesn’t adore a great big bear hug?! Spending time with those you love; family, friends, or pets, can prompt the release of oxytocin, a stress-relieving hormone. I always feel better after spending quality time with loved ones. As an extra bonus incorporate the outdoors, food, music and laughing! BAM! A stress relief fest!
Most importantly, make the time to incorporate some of these things into your daily life. You are important, your health and well-being is important. Take care of YOU.
Love and gratitude,