Have you ever found yourself feeling overwhelmed by the stress of daily life? If you’re nodding your head, yes, you’re certainly not alone. In our fast-paced, always-on society, it can be easy to get caught up in the chaos. And as a result, sometimes (more often than we’d like to admit), we forget to take care of ourselves. That’s why daily stress management is so important. It’s like giving ourselves a little mental and emotional tune-up each day, so we can stay calm, focused, and resilient in the face of whatever challenges come our way. Think of it like an oil change for your brain and body! By taking just a few minutes each day to practice stress management techniques — like deep breathing, mindfulness meditation, or simply going on a walk — we can reduce the negative impact of stress on our bodies and minds.
Coping With Chronic Stress
Before we get into simple practices for stress management, let’s talk about the catastrophic nature of chronic stress.
When experienced on a regular basis, stress can be extremely harmful to our physical and mental well-being. And unfortunately, 84% of Americans feel stressed at least once in a typical week — a 6% increase from 2021. This means stress is on the rise, which is not so good for our health.
Why is this so?
Well, when we’re stressed, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol. And if this stress hormone stays constantly elevated, it can wreak havoc on our health. Chronic stress has been linked to things like fatigue, high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, and even depression or anxiety. Plus, who wants to feel like they’re constantly on edge or on the brink of burnout? Surely not you or I!
Though it may seem daunting at first, managing stress can be simpler than you think. Whether it’s taking a short walk outside or spending time with a pet, there are countless simple ways to manage stress. It’s all about finding what works for you and making it a regular part of your routine.
So, take a deep breath! Let’s make stress management a priority with these simple stress-busting tips that can be implemented in minutes.
Stressed? Here Are 14 Ways to Relieve Stress in Minutes
#1 Practice Deep Breathing
When your heart is pounding out of your chest, or you’re feeling short of breath due to stress or anxiety, try taking a few deep breaths. While it may sound simple, deep breathing exercises help to reverse this process and promote relaxation.
When we’re feeling anxious, stressed, or overwhelmed, our body’s natural response is to engage in shallow, rapid breathing. As part of the fight-or-flight response, our body is simply trying to protect us during stressful situations, and it does this by increasing our heart rate, blood pressure, or breathing rate. However, if this stress is due to a non-physical stressor, such as a work deadline or an argument with a loved one, this increased breathing rate can lead to feelings of anxiety and tension — no fun!
The next time this occurs, try engaging in deep breathing exercises to counteract this physiological response. Box breathing, cyclic sighing, and belly breathing are all great options!
#2 Listen to Calming Music
What if we told you that simply listening to music could help reduce stress and anxiety? It’s true! When we turn up the calming tunes, we stimulate the release of feel-good neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. Additionally, music can distract us from negative thoughts and emotions, helping us to shift our focus and promote a more positive mood. So, take a few minutes to listen to your favorite calming songs!
#3 Do a Quick Stretch
Do a quick scan of your body. Are you clenching your jaw? Holding tension in your neck or hips? Stand up and stretch your body for a few minutes. Simple stretches — such as neck rolls, shoulder shrugs, and hamstring stretches — can help relieve tension and reduce stress! You could even roll out your yoga mat for a quick flow, or press play on a 5-minute mobility workout.
#4 Calm Your Mind With Visualization
Struggle to quiet your mind with meditation? Try visualization! Unlike meditation, which can be intimidating to some, visualization is a mindfulness technique that engages the thinking process rather than quieting it. It’s as simple as closing your eyes and imagining yourself in a peaceful and calming environment, such as a beach, a forest, or a garden.
#5 Keep a Journal Nearby
When your head is buzzing, and your thoughts are consuming your brain space, take a few minutes to write down what you’re feeling. This can help you process your emotions and reduce stress!
#6 Brew a Calming Cup of Herbal Tea
Did you know that certain herbal teas, such as chamomile and lavender, contain stress-busting properties that can help reduce stress and promote relaxation? It’s true!
Chamomile tea contains a compound called apigenin, which has been shown to bind to receptors in the brain that promote relaxation and reduce anxiety. It also contains antioxidants, which can help to reduce inflammation and modulate stress.
Similarly, lavender tea contains compounds called linalool and linalyl acetate, which have been shown to have a calming and relaxing effect on the body. These compounds have also been shown to reduce anxiety and promote better sleep.
And in addition to their stress-reducing properties, both chamomile and lavender tea are caffeine-free, making them a great option for those who are looking for a natural way to relax without the stimulating effects of caffeine!
#7 Take a Short Walk
Whether you lace up your sneakers for a morning stroll or head outdoors for your lunch break, taking a short 5-10 minute walk can help reduce stress and improve mood. Aside from the stress-relieving benefits of moving your body, when you go for a walk, you’re giving your mind a break. This meditative and calming activity can help clear your mind and allow you to focus on the present moment!
RELATED: The Amazing Benefits of Walking
#8 Take a Mini Mental Break
Taking a mini mental break is something we should do each and every day! It’s a simple yet effective strategy for reducing stress that can be done anytime, anywhere — and it only takes a few minutes to complete. If you’re feeling tired, stressed, or overwhelmed, try taking a few minutes to recollect your thoughts and reconnect to your body. This could be taking a few deep breaths in a quiet room, going for a walk outside, doing a body scan to release any tension, or standing up to take a stretch. The idea of mini mental breaks is to take small mindful moments throughout the day to pause, breathe, and focus on your mental well-being. It’s a way to take a step back from the constant demands of work and daily life and check in with yourself!
#9 Use Aromatherapy
Studies suggest that incorporating calming essential oils — such as lavender, chamomile, and peppermint — into your daily routine may have a positive impact on your mental and emotional well-being. The scent of these oils can help to activate the limbic system, which is the part of the brain that is responsible for regulating emotions, memory, and motivation. Additionally, the inhalation of essential oils can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which can reduce feelings of stress and promote relaxation.
Best of all, you can implement them with ease! Add a few drops to your bath or diffuser, make your own aromatherapy spray by combining essential oils with water in a spray bottle, or dilute them with a carrier oil and apply them topically to your skin.
#10 Do a Quick Workout
Have a few minutes to spare? Squeeze in some jumping jacks or squats, or press play on a 5-10 minute FitOn workout.
Research has shown that just a few minutes of exercise can have a significant impact on reducing stress and increasing energy levels! This is partly because exercise helps to release mood-boosting endorphins in the brain, while, at the same time, reducing the levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline. Pretty cool, right? As you can imagine, this can lead to reduced feelings of anxiety and improved mood.
#11 Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Ever notice that when you experience stress, your muscles tend to tense up, leading to things such as physical discomfort and tension headaches? Well, progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is an easy-to-implement relaxation technique that has been shown to help. This technique involves tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups in the body, one at a time, in a specific order, which helps to reduce physical tension and promote relaxation.
The idea is that by activating the relaxation response in the body, you’re opposing the stress response. Plus, as you move through the different muscle groups, you become more aware of the physical sensations in your body and can release tension in areas that you may not have realized were tense!
Here are some steps to help you practice PMR:
Step #1: Start by finding a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lay down.
Step #2: Once comfortable, take a few deep breaths to help calm your mind and body.
Step #3: Starting with your feet, focus on the muscles in your toes. Curl your toes tightly for a few seconds, then release and relax them. Focus on the feeling of relaxation in your toes.
Step #4: Move up to your calves, tensing and releasing the muscles there.
Step #5: Repeat this process for each muscle group in your body, working your way up from your toes to your face.
#12 Use a Weighted Blanket
If you feel comforted when curled up and cozy, a weighted blanket may be just the tool to help promote relaxation and reduce stress! By providing gentle pressure on the body, weighted blankets are thought to help stimulate the release of serotonin and dopamine, two neurotransmitters that promote feelings of relaxation and well-being. Plus, the pressure from the blanket can help relieve tension and improve sleep!
#13 Stay Hydrated
Feeling stressed or anxious? Check in on your hydration — when was the last time you had some water? Unbeknown to many, dehydration can lead to increased stress and anxiety! At the very least, aim for 8 glasses of water each day.
#14 Avoid Multitasking
Did you know that multitasking can increase stress and reduce productivity? Yep, when we try to juggle multiple tasks at once, our brain has to constantly switch back and forth between them, which can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and fatigue.
Instead, focus on one task at a time. Set specific goals and priorities for each task, and avoid checking your email or social media during that time. If you find yourself getting distracted or feeling overwhelmed, take a short mini mental break or practice a relaxation technique such as deep breathing or visualization!
Here’s To A Daily Dose of Stress Management!
From lowering our cortisol levels, to reducing anxiety, and improving our mood, there are so many benefits that come from daily stress management. Plus, I think we can all agree, it feels good to take care of our mind and body! So, the next time you’re feeling stressed, try these simple (and fast-acting tips) to help reduce stress. Your mind and body will thank you!