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Feeling stressed out for no reason? 5 simple tips to reduce stress ...

Updated on September 7, 2012

Feeling stressed for no reason - what to do?

It's great to take time out and relax, go away on retreat, have a spa day. But if you are like me, sometimes you just don't have the time! Well, here are five simple actions you can take right now to reduce stress. If you are feeling stressed out try some of these tips right now and you will soon find yourself feeling calmer and more in control.

1. Take a deep breath. And again. And again.

Just taking a moment to stop what you are doing and breathe deeply and slowly from the stomach, can have an instant calming effect. Most of us spend our lives taking very shallow breaths, only inflating the top of our lungs. This actually heightens stress in the body. Lack of oxygen activitates the body's fight-or-flight response and contributes to a constant feeling of anxiety. The good news is that just taking a few deep breaths from your stomach tells your body to de-activate panic responses, and to start producing calming hormones. Try stopping what you are doing for a moment, just focusing on breathing deeply for two minutes. You will soon start to feel a lot calmer!

2. Smile. Even if you don't feel like it!

When we feel happy our brains tell our facial muscles to pull into a smile. But did you know that deliberately smiling (even if you don't feel like it) for up to 2 minutes can tell your brain to start feeling happy? It's a simple trick to begin feeling better fast. Plus, making an effort to smile at the people round you can turn around a bad day where it seems like no one wants to help you - what is probably going on is that your stress has translated into an unconscious scowl which is telling people to keep away. With a smiling face, you are much more likely to get the help you need.

3. Write a list. Then write a shorter one.

If you are feeling stressed out you are probably feeling overwhelmed by all the different things you want to get done today. Just a simple action like writing a to-do list can help reduce stress. For a start, you don't have to worry about forgetting to do something important - so that's one less worry at least! Now you can turn your long, overwhelming list into a much shorter list which is the list of things that really and truly need to get done today.It can be hard to prioritise so here are a couple of questions to help you decide what should make it to the short list.... What needs to be done today to prevent further problems down the line? In six months time what on the long list will still be important? Do the items on the short list first and you will start to feel more in control of the situation.

4. Laugh out loud.

Now, this one can draw a few confused glances from your co-workers or from passers-by in the street but laughter is scientifically proven to reduce stress and tension and boost your health. It really is the best medicine. There is a whole movement called 'laughter yoga' dedicated to teaching people to deliberately laugh (without needing a joke) but if you are worried about what people will think of you if you start laughing for no reason - then make it your business to find a reason! If you are feeling stressed-out, seek out a friend or colleague who makes you laugh or look up some funny jokes on the internet. Laughter really has the power to banish worries.

5. Make a cup of tea.

I know what you're thinking - typical Irish woman! But I have to say I have always found the ritual of making myself a cup of tea very comforting and relaxing. Those few minutes while the kettle is boiling give me permission to take a complete break and just chill out. What's more, a cup of Black Tea has less caffeine than a cup of coffee - and when you're stressed you don't need caffeine, you are already over-alert. Best of all try some caffeine-free herbal teas which are known for their relaxing and calming properties. Chamomile tea is a favourite of mine and is very soothing to a stressed-out stomach. Lemon Balm is also known for its relaxing properties. And if you are having trouble getting to sleep at night, I have found Valerian tea makes me positively drowsy!

We all get stessed sometimes - its knowing how to handle it that counts. I hope these tips will be useful anytime you need to reduce stress with a simple action you can do right away. They are designed for people who are experiencing a normal level of stress. If you are feeling extremely stressed, or are suffering from long-term stress you had best seek out qualified professional help such as a psycologist or counsellor.

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