10 Stress-Relief Tips for the Mind and Body
Hectic work schedules, impending deadlines, turbulent relationships, not to mention the latest Game of Thrones episode… The stress triggers are endless. Not only does recent research highlight the link between stress and night grinding or clenching, but if left unaddressed it can affect your body in a whole bunch of ways.
In other words, it’s a good idea to stay ahead of stress, and there many techniques devised for just that purpose. Here, we’ve picked a few of our favorite stress-relief exercises for both mind and body to share with you. Happy unwinding!
This type of relaxation therapy is often encouraged for those who suffer from anxiety. It involved clenching and releasing muscle groups one by one, allowing you to more specifically identify areas of tension in your body. As you release, the idea is that your mind follows your body, letting the stress escape physically and then mentally.
2. Deep Breathing
Slow, deep breathing from the diaphragm and abdomen can relieve markers of stress such as high blood pressure. Although it is easy to resort to fast, shallow breathing in the upper chest when your blood starts pounding, this may only serve to worsen symptoms. Instead, taking just ten minutes every day to practice deep breathing is a great strategy to training it into your body’s natural stress response.
3. Practice Yoga
Yoga is an integrative form of exercise that combines breathing practices with physical poses that offers several health benefits for the mind and body. Although there are many different styles of yoga, Hatha Yoga may be most beneficial for stress relief. Beginners enjoy this style for its slow, easy movements. Besides reducing stress and anxiety, yoga has been found to improve mood and overall sense of well-being.
Meditation is a deep state of relaxation that has been practiced for thousands of years. One focuses their attention to eliminate and silence the busy thoughts that crowd our minds during the day. Spending just a few minutes meditating each day restore calm and inner peace along with reducing the symptoms of day-to-day stress.
5. Make or Listen to Music
Recent studies have found that the act of making music can reverse cellular stress response, causing the cells to stop reproducing the chemicals that trigger its detrimental health effects. The less seriously you approach music, the better: take a break to tinker around with some instruments or kick back to a relaxing playlist. What could be better?
4. Enjoying Scents
Aromatherapy is a great way to unwind. Essential oils like lavender have been shown to reduce stress levels in certain studies.
Physical activity can have the same effect on the body as meditation. After a period of focused exercise, you’ll find the details of a long day’s pressures are far behind you. Working out also spikes your body’s production of endorphins, a chemical that triggers feelings of happiness and exhilaration to cancel those office blues.
6. Engage creatively
It isn’t hard to believe that stress stifles the creative impulse, but in fact there is evidence to suggest that the reverse is also true. Engaging in a creative activity has a calming effect on the mind, partly due to the intense focus exhibited by the individual. When writing a poem or sketching a picture, the mind is hardly focused on anything else, yielding a meditative quality similar to the one gained from exercise. So dedicate a few minutes or an hour at the end of your day to some creative pursuit and reap the benefits of relaxation.
7. Guided Visualization
This stress management technique prompts you to picture a scene, person or memory that relaxes you. It involved the engagement of all of your senses, creating powerful relaxation that can be quite effective in counteracting stress.
10. Take a walk
Last but not least -- take a hike! There isn’t a conclusive consensus on why being exposed to nature offers the health benefits that it does, but even a short walk in the woods can reduce stress levels and improve overall well-being. A group of researchers from Stanford proposed that this powerful effect has something to do with the reduction of rumination -- the inability to look past bad things when they happen, often a precursor to depression. As more and more research continues to support this theory, it is no wonder that urban architects are starting to take green spaces into account when designing cities.