8 Tips to Reduce Stress
Learn about the most frequent causes of stress and proven ways to eliminate it
We all experience stress to some degree on a daily basis, but at times it can seem debilitating. Stress can cause headaches, insomnia, muscle tension, panic attacks, increased blood pressure, digestive upsets, low libido, and an increased tendency to participate in harmful behavior like drinking, using drugs, smoking, and overeating. Here are eight things you can do to reduce your stress levels and help make your quality of life better.
Massage for Relaxation
Massage is a term that refers to manipulating the muscles, skin, tendons, and ligaments, with the desired outcome of relaxation and the relief of muscle tension. When the body experiences stress, the muscles tense up, sometimes for a long period of time. Massage can help relieve some of this tension, which can then make the body feel less stressed. Little is more relaxing than a professional massage. You get away from your daily routine, get off your feet, and allow yourself to be pampered. There are psychological benefits as well, as taking some time for oneself can ease a worried or preoccupied mind. Professional massages can be pricey, so, if money is an issue, try some at-home massage techniques to help relieve your stress.
A Furry Friend
Research has shown that there are several health benefits to owning a pet. Having a pet around decreases blood pressure, lessens anxiety, and even boosts immunity. Some studies have shown that playing with a dog or other pet heightens levels of dopamine and serotonin, both of which are neurotransmitters that are responsible for feelings of ease, calm, and contentment. Pet owners are less likely to suffer from clinical depression, generally find comfort in the idea of having a constant companion, and pets can provide an easy way to meet people for the socially anxious.
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils and other aromatic compounds to alter a person's mood, and researches believe this method of stress relief and relaxation has been employed since antiquity. There are three different kinds of aromatherapy: Aerial diffusion, direct inhalation, and topical application. Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine and is often thought to stimulate brain function. Essential oils are also often used in conjunction with massage to help a person relax. Research has shown that aromatherapy can be effective against worry and anxiety.
Everyday life can be chaotic and full of the need to multi-task, too many obligations, a sense of urgency, and a seemingly never-ending stream of emails and text messages. Taking time aside to clear one's mind can be a great way to relax. Meditation is the personal practice of clearing one's mind and directing one's thoughts to one particular focus. Simply spending time in quiet contemplation with no distractions, even without a singular focus, can also have a stress-reducing effect. Meditation and taking some quiet time to oneself is a way of "getting away" without going anywhere.
Reduce Your Debt
Money is an extremely stressful subject. More than half of the country is in debt, many struggle with their credit ratings, and over 80% of the population claims to worry about finances. But, debt reduction is something that can be achieved. Paying down high-interest debts (like credit cards) is the best approach to getting rid debt and reducing stress. It can be helpful to prioritize your bills, and it may also make sense to start working with a financial advisor who can help you make a plan to eliminate financial stress.
Work it Out
Exercise is one of the most effective ways of keeping stress, anxiety, and depression at bay. Recent research shows that half-an-hour of cardiovascular exercise per day can greatly improve your quality of life. Exercise boosts your endorphin levels, causing an overall positive feeling. Exercise also provides the opportunity to get your mind off of daily stressors, as you focus your thoughts on your body's movements instead of your to-do list or errands. Also, the physical ramifications of exercise often help boost self-esteem and relieve stress-related problems like insomnia.
Sit and Soak
Hot tubs provide a soothing and feel-good way to relax. Not only do they provide the opportunity to get away from the stress of the day by sitting in a quiet, warm environment, the hot water eases tension in your body's muscles and helps with restricted blood flow. Many hot tubs also have jets that act as massagers that ease pain and tension, and swim spas will even allow you to swim in place aganst a gentle current. Hot water is both relaxing and therapeutic.
Talk it Over
When stress has become debilitating and is making the day-to-day seem nearly impossible to take, or when you simply feel like you need to talk through some of the stressful parts of your life, it may be a good idea to make an appointment with a counselor or therapist. An objective mental health professional can provide an outlet for your stress while simultaneously helping you identify and cope the stressors in your life. Because high levels of stress can lead to depression and anxiety, it is important to talk to someone who knows how to help. An appointment with a local counselor or therapist is also time in your day that you can put aside just for yourself, which is essential to reduce stress levels and restore a feeling of control and balance.