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10 Simple ways to ease stress

Updated on October 2, 2013

Have you ever had a time when you’re so busy so stressed and so overwhelmed that you can’t help but feel that your brain is about to explode? Maybe you’ve been pulling extra time at work and a fairly innocuous question from an intern suddenly had you snapping back. Perhaps between all of your responsibilities you were running a hectic carpool schedule, ferrying a bunch of rambunctious children to and from school when you felt like you could easily slump against the wheel and weep tears of tired frustration instead. The fact is, there comes a time when there’s so much resting on your shoulders that you simply cannot afford to explode, but you are only human and you need some quick fix ways in which to gain a bit of calm really fast so that you can get on top of things again. Stop, take a deep breath keep calm and don’t stress.

Try these simple ways in which you can calmly take control of the way in which you feel without having to blow your top.

1. Aromatherapy

Peel an orange. Right this moment grab one and tear the skin apart. Feel the delicious and heady scent of the orange permeate your being. The scent of the citrus will dramatically improve your mood. Think of it as aromatherapy for the senses. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the smell of citrus assists with stress, anxiety and elevating moods. According to research done at the Mayo Clinic orange and other citrus scents assist with feelings of nausea and aid the process of digestion.

If you like the idea of using essential oils, try some of the oils in the picture above for an immediate mood elevator and pick me up.

2. Eat a piece of chocolate

Munch on a piece of dark chocolate and feel the endorphins begin to flow. The piece of dark chocolate that you eat has a way of increasing blood flow to the brain and the heart, helping to improve cognitive function. An added benefit of eating dark chocolate is that the antioxidants also slow down the process of aging. Whilst you may want to consider going a bit easy on the amounts that you eat, due to weight control and caloric intake, a good decent square of dark chocolate in a moment of stress is not a bad thing to reach for.

3. Laugh out loud

Loud, crazy, maniacal laughter, the type that may have people stare at you in surprise is the kind that you’re after. When you laugh out loud a number of processes happen in your body simultaneously. Your heart rate goes up, which means that all your body processes are elevated. Your blood is oxygenated; the blood in your veins begins pumping faster and your stress response fires up and drops down dramatically all of which are good for dropping your stress levels.

On a long term curve, when we laugh a lot we help our immune systems, as we laugh our bodies produce more antibodies that protect us from flu’s and colds. Watch funny videos, hang out with people and friends who laugh a lot, learn to take your life less seriously and remember that laughter is the best medicine.

If nothing else, laughter is contagious! Take a leaf out of these guys book! Be inspired by laughter yoga therapy!

4. Do something repetitive

Quick, grab a piece of paper and try to make a simple origami butterfly
Quick, grab a piece of paper and try to make a simple origami butterfly

Do something that requires very little focus and attention. It may sound counter-intuitive but there comes a time when you have to switch off mentally and do something that requires very little mental energy and calms you down.

It could be stapling a bunch of documents, folding clothes, taking care of the dishes, chomping veggies or just tinkering around on a project in a bicycle shed. When you do something repetitive it has a calming effect on your mind, your brain releases serotonin and you simply calm down. Find something repetitive and soothing to do immediately.

5. Manipulate a pressure point

When you are stressed and tired some of the spots in your body that tell you immediately that you’re going through tension are your eyes, your head, neck and your temple. Massage and more specifically self massage through acupressure helps with releasing energies that are blocked within your body. When you’re feeling at your wits end, try manipulating some of your pressure points in order to bring about immediate relief.

For a few simple and effective tips on manipulating facial pressure points for stress relief, have a look at this video.

6. Visualize

Consider the environment that you are in at the moment. If you are able to fill your sights with beauty and interesting things right now, do so. If not, go ahead and stop whatever you’re doing and use the power of visualization.

No, it doesn’t have to be some kind of ‘way out’ practice that you associate with self help groups and camp circles. Simply think of the top five things in your life right now that give you joy.

It could be anything, from people in your life, to activities that you like doing, hobbies, pets that you love, artworks, pictures and mementos. As you have your eyes closed choose a subject that you are going to fixate on for a full minute. For example, think about your pets at home and the unconditional love that they give you when you come home after a long hard day at work, focus on those feelings, the love and the joy that they give you. Hold onto those feelings, relax, ease up, open those eyes and feel lighter and happier immediately.

7. Turn up the music

In the car, at home, in the office, wherever you are right now, crank up a little bit of music.

There is nothing more soul satisfyingly good than having your favorite song playing at top volume giving you new and fantastic energy pumping through your veins. Music is vastly underrated as a positive mood enhancer and should really be used more often to combat stress.

Depending on the type of mood that you would like to achieve, choose the music very carefully. If you want to calm down, classical, jazzy, panpipes and more mellow music is a definite choice. If you’re looking to crank up the energy and feel more upbeat and energized go for pop, hip-hop, electronic music and music with inspiring lyrics.

8. Get a massage

Good old fashioned ‘human touch’. Yes this one may seem like the obvious, but it is so often overlooked when it comes to calming down and relieving stress. In the fast paced, automated world of convenience that we live in we are increasingly disconnecting from our humanity, so touch and touch therapy has become somewhat of a foreign concept to us.

In times gone by, personal zones were smaller; friends and families hugged, kissed and held hands more than they do now. Human touch, be it hugging, kissing, hand holding, back rubs and massage in general when done in an appropriate and consenting manner helps the body release oxytocin which is a hormone that calms the body down, lowers cortisol and stress levels, blood pressure levels and increases levels of compassion.

9. Start eating healthier

When you’re feeling stressed and tired, one of the areas in which you can focus that will help you breathe new life into your state of mind, is your diet. High amounts of sugar, salt and processed, refined foods have a way of making you feel bloated, sluggish, and lacking energy. Eliminating these types of foods that tax the body is one of the first steps that you can take in order to relieve it from stress and unnecessary stimulants.

  • Keep hydrated- water, herbal tea and waters flavored with veggies
  • Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Eat balanced, regular meals
  • Sit down to meals where possible, don’t always be associating food times with a ‘shovel and go’ type of mentality.

10. Chew Gum

The act of chewing at its most basic helps to increase the blood flow to the brain and increase our powers of alertness. According to research and studies chewing on gum not only helps lower cortisol (stress related hormone) but also helps people concentrate harder on memory related tasks. Next time you feel stressed you have an excuse to pop a piece of gum (extra points if it is citrus flavored) and chew on it.

Next time you feel so overwhelmed that you could almost pop; try one these ways to alleviate your stress. You owe it to yourself to find techniques that will help you ease up and calm down. Breathe in, breathe out and remember that you and your life are valuable. Stress less, do more.

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    • Hendrika profile image

      Hendrika 4 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      This is interesting. I especially like the music one, I can see that working if you really make the correct choice, not music that makes you think of the "good old days" as that can really make you depressed.