It can seem impossible to decompress when we get stressed. But there are natural, physical ways to destress the body. You just need to know how to use them.
What Do Our Bodies Go Through When We Get Stressed?
There are a number of different ways that stress affects us, and a variety of factors that can bring it on. Some common themes are your children, your finances, or your work situation.
No matter what the cause, stress and anxiety have the potential to be absolutely debilitating. They can interfere with your ability to participate in normal daily activities.
Stress happens in the brain.
The amygdala is the part of your brain that helps you with emotional processing issues. When something stresses you out, this part of the brain sends distress signals to another part of your brain, called the hypothalamus.
The hypothalamus is the main control center for your entire brain, sending information through your nervous system to communicate.
This distress signal is what causes us to have a fight-or-flight response when stressful situations are triggered.
Fight-or-flight responses cause the physical stress reactions.
It’s common for you to feel your heart race when you get stressed. Your senses might sharpen and become more acute, so you feel like you’re picking up every little thing.
You might also have an adrenaline rush that makes you want to run or fight, along with deeper overall oxygen intake. As this process occurs, your body will release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is meant to restore whatever energy your body uses during the initial adrenaline reaction.
After the stress resolves, the cortisol levels in the body drop, which is what causes people to “crash” after stressful events occur.
11 Ways of Reducing Stress Levels and Anxiety
Day-to-day stresses can seem overwhelming, but there are a variety of exercises that you can do to calm your mind. All-day meditation isn’t required, as these simple exercises can be done in less than 10 minutes.
1. Mindful Breathing
Everything in the world knows how breathing works. We breathe without thinking. But to breathe mindfully, you need to focus on the breaths and connect to your body’s inner energy. You can apply a number of different mindful breathing techniques to your life. These techniques have been proven effective in stress relief for both short-term and long-term periods.
2. Hold an Ice Cube
This is an ideal method because you don’t need to concentrate or focus at all. If you’re having a terrible anxiety day and cannot get your thoughts under control, this is a good solution. Holding onto an ice cube forces your body to focus on the cold sensation rather than on the external stressors. It’s also an excellent distraction.
Meditation is an ideal practice for everyday life. It pairs excellently with breathing techniques. When you meditate, you turn your attention toward your inner self. You are completely in tune with yourself and out of tune with the world. You aren’t focusing on whatever external stresses you might be dealing with.
4. Adult Coloring Books
Coloring books are all the rage nowadays, and for good reason! Art therapy is a great way to calm down, and adult coloring books offer easy access to therapeutic techniques. When you color, you focus outside of your own thoughts and self-awareness. Coloring has also been shown to improve your long-term focus and overall brain health, so there’s nothing to lose.
5. Essential Oils
A great deal of essential oils have been used throughout history all over the world.
Lavender is one of the most popular. These oils help to reduce a person’s anxiety and allow the body to retain a calm, balanced state. Lavender can improve a number of anxiety-related symptoms like insomnia, disturbed sleep, and restlessness. It has also been linked to improvement in people’s general health.
It’s vitally important to write down your feelings and thoughts. Getting everything down on paper helps you to organize and sort through what you’re feeling. You might just need to get the emotions out, or you might need to make a game plan. Either way, writing things out will help you get things out of your head and onto the paper.
7. Chewing Gum
Many people are surprised to find that chewing gum is so effective for managing anxiety, but studies show that it helps to reduce stress, depression, and fatigue. Chewing gum helps you focus on something outside of yourself, similarly to a coloring book.
A 2003 study indicated that people who viewed humorous videos had lower stress levels than the control group, who did not view videos. Humor has a balancing effect on a person’s stress levels.
If you have a friend or significant other who likes touch, cuddling is a great way to reduce stress Studies show that humans need physical contact with each other, and that physical contact releases hormones that reduce stress levels.
10. Spend Time Around Animals
It can be very rewarding to care for a pet. Pets love you unconditionally. If you don’t have a pet, you can always volunteer at your local animal shelter.
Music is a great way to take your mind off your thoughts. You can even combine it with some of these other strategies, like coloring. Maybe you can color, chew gum, and listen to music at the same time — you’ll be stress-free in no time!
What do you do to reduce your stress levels? Let us know in the comments below!