We are all faced with stressful situations in our lives. Whether it’s big stress, small stress good stress, bad stress, seemingly never-ending stress, personal stress, political stress, when we’re in it, it can feel overwhelming. What helps when you’re feeling like you’re drowning in a situation outside of your control is to take action. It could be something as simple as sitting down to meditate, or going for a walk outside, because you know those actions fight stress. It could be something major, like volunteering your time at a cause, or helping someone in need.
Ready to alleviate your tension? Here are 20 ways you can reduce stress in your life right now.
Meditate. Even if you’ve never tried it before, even if you only last a few minutes, the benefits of meditation on reducing stress in your body are major. If you’re new to meditating, try an app – it’s an easy way to be guided through a beginner meditation practice.
Breathe. While breathing is a physical act, we are often oblivious to the act because it’s an automatic response. Just taking time to reconnect with your breath and be present in the moment can be calming.
Talk to someone who makes you happy. Hopefully we all have at least one person in our lives who never fail to make us feel happier, lighter and calmer after talking with them. Just don’t make the mistake of unloading all your stress on them – that could have a negative impact on their mental state!
Let go of distractions. Just sit and be, without your phone, social media, and just let your mind wander.
Watch, read, or listen to something that makes you cry laughing. I’m a sucker for Monty Python, Douglas Adams, or any of those ridiculous autocorrected text compilations. Laughter is a guaranteed stress reliever.
Ummm…lay up. This is a fitness blog, after all! Go work out, move your body, exercise! It doesn’t matter how, just the physical act of exercise can have a positive impact on your stress levels and overall sense of well-being.
Do some yoga – yoga is like the one-exercise-cures-all way to reduce stress. You have the mental aspects of focusing on your breath and sometimes some form of meditation as well as the physical act of exercising for tension relief.
Get out into nature. Maybe you’re not physically up to exercising, but simply being in a natural environment helps with stress levels and peace.
Have an orgasm. Yup, I went there, because it’s a well-known stress reliever. You can choose how! 😉
Eat well. Try not to fall into the trap of turning to comfort foods because they make you feel good in the moment of eating them. Instead, try to stick to healthy eating habits to make your body feel well.
Get yourself out of the comparison trap. There will always be someone whose life seems more amazing and happier and wonderful than your own. But don’t fall into the, “If only I was more like…” or “If only I had the same…” way of comparing yourself unfavorably to others. If you know you do this, delete or unfollow any social media accounts that trigger it and feel the stress of comparison start to disappear almost immediately.
Tell the people you love that you love them.
Spend time with your pet. If you don’t have one, offer to walk someone’s dog or cat sit for them. Just connecting with an animal can relieve stress levels.
Make plans with someone you love – a trip together, a date, even something as small as planning a face-time or phone call. Connecting with others is one of the best ways you can reduce stress in your life.
Listen to your favorite music, that makes you feel good, or brings back happy memories.
Practice empathy. It can be easy to get so wrapped up in our own feelings and response to a situation that we become blind to how others are affected. It can be eye-opening and helpful to see another point of view for a change.
Write a gratitude list. Daily. Even if you can only muster, ‘I am grateful for coffee,’ it counts. Feeling grateful for what you have and what is good about your life can have a direct effect on your anxiety levels.
Connect to your higher power. Maybe you pray, or meditate, or visualize, or practice the law of attraction – these are all powerful ways to make stress and anxiety dissipate. Don’t believe in a higher power? You can still do meditation in a secular way, or do something you know makes your soul feel good, like visiting your favorite museum, or chilling out by a lake.
Donate to charity, whether it’s with your time, your money, or both. Helping others makes you feel good and it’s hard to be stressed out when you feel good.
Let go of control. Something religion offers is the idea that something or someone else is ultimately in control. Whether you’re a religious person or not, it can be freeing to realize that no, you can’t control a lot of what happens to you, especially in cases of acute, catastrophic situations which cause stress. But recognize that taking small steps to combat your own reaction (i.e. your stress response) can make a big difference for your psyche.