Self Care

The 5 Stress-Busting Hacks You Didn’t Know You Needed Until Now

Psst… Stress doesn’t have to dictate your day.

By: Emma Lunsford

Ever stress over how much you’re stressing out? 

Stress loves to sneak up. One minute you’re enjoying your coffee, and the next, you’re yelling at your significant other for chewing. …And then comes the guilty “Why do I feel like this? How do I calm down? What do I do?” 

And the stress cycle repeats. But no more! It helps to find stress-relieving techniques that will promote ease, regardless of the stressors around you. 

And here’s where these five stress-busting hacks come into play. 

So Long, Stress! Use These 5 Stress-Busting Hacks to Zen Your Way Through the Day

#1 5-5-7 Breathing

Breathing might seem like one of those “obvious” tips. But have you ever caught yourself super stressed and breathing irregularly? It happens. Your body is in a state of panic. 

To ease into calm, you can essentially trick your nervous system into thinking you’re relaxed by focusing on intentional, rhythmic breathing. The brain says something like, “Woah, I’m breathing slow and controlled. I must be relaxed right now!” 

*cue the calm*

Of course, you can always just take deep, slow inhales and exhales. But when you’re stressed, focusing on your breath can feel like climbing an uphill battle. There’s so much going on in your head! To help you focus, add counting.

Enter: 5-5-7 breathing. 

Inhale for five seconds, hold the breath for 5 seconds, and exhale for 7 seconds, making sure to really slow down your exhale. Do this counting for as long as you need until your breathing is more stable. The best part? You can do this anytime, anywhere. No equipment or space needed. 

#2 Progressive Muscle Relaxation

One of the greatest stress-busting hacks of all time:

When your body is relaxed, it’s easy for your mind to catch on. This hack lies at the heart of progressive muscle relaxation, where you slowly turn each muscle group into smooth soft-serve.

It works by tensing and relaxing each of your muscle groups, which sounds counterintuitive at first. But once you try it, you’ll understand just how powerful its effects can be at reducing stress and anxiety. 

How to do it:

  1. Find a quiet, non-distracting space large enough to lie down in, then lie down, whether it’s on the floor, bed, yoga mat, or couch. (As long as you’re comfortable!)
  2. Put on a progressive muscle relaxation guide recording (Pro tip: it’s helpful to use earbuds or headphones, so it’s harder to hear any outside noises)
  3. Follow the pattern of tensing, releasing, and breathing in the guided recording. 
  4. Be gentle with yourself. 

#3 Don’t “Calm Down”

How to make someone angry 101:

Tell them to calm down when they’re stressed. Instead, why not tell yourself the opposite? You can view your stress as excitement and harness the high energy to motivate yourself.

One study showed that the people who were able to interpret their anxiety as excitement did much better on a specific task and felt more positive feelings about the task as a whole, compared to those that tried to “calm down.”

So, when you’re feeling freaking frazzled, try to imagine using the excess energy in a creative way, getting expressive and excited about conveying ideas. Don’t calm down, but don’t let the stress rule you. 

Take control and remember — mindset is everything. You always get to decide how to view a situation. 

#4 EFT Tapping

Psychological acupressure, anyone? 

The emotional freedom technique (EFT) involves tapping specific points of the body where energy flows according to Traditional Chinese Medicine. While tapping, you also recite a certain phrase that helps address stress and self-acceptance.

Step 1:  Identify your stressor. (E.g. a deadline, relationship, etc.)

Step 2: Figure out how severe the stressor is on a scale of 1-10. (10 being the highest)

Step 3: Create a positive phrase that addresses your stressor. (E.g. Even though I’m stressed about this deadline, I accept myself regardless of what happens.) 

Step 4: Using the tips of your fingers, lightly tap the 8 meridian points 7 times each, on both the right and left side of the body. (beginning of eyebrow, side of eye, under the eye, under the nose, chin, beginning of the collar bone, right below the armpit, and top of the head) Repeat your phrase with each tapping point. 

Step 5: Again, rate your stress level. If it’s still high, repeat the sequence!

#5 Your Fav Creative Outlet

Stress-busting hacks don’t have to be complicated. One study showed that a simple creative outlet could help soothe emotional stress. And they’re a great way to unwind after a long day. (or during!)

Try any of these creative releases:

  • Listening/playing music
  • Drawing/painting
  • Decorating
  • Sculpting
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Putting on makeup
  • Cooking
  • Photography
  • Sewing/knitting
  • Gardening
  • Dancing
  • Scrapbooking/crafting

7 Bonus Stress-Busting Hacks

Yep, there’s more! You can’t talk about easing stress without mentioning the usual techniques like meditation, yoga, and stretching. 

Try adding one or two of these into your stress-relief routine:

Testing, Testing! No More Stressing

At the end of the day, you know your body best. What works well for one person might not work well for you. So don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things. Test these stress-busting hacks, and keep doing the ones that work for you. 

Happy stress-busting!