Stress and anxiety are some of the worst illnesses afflicting our age. Not only do they reduce our happiness and ability to enjoy our lives and our loved ones, but they are also the leading causes of many types of diseases and afflictions of the body, as well as the mind.
So it is of paramount importance that we are all familiar with ways to reduce our overall, or momentary, stress. Here are 20 great and easy ways to reduce your stress and start feeling a whole lot better!
1. Take a deep breath. As simple as that sounds, deep breaths reduce the amount of cortisol, which can help release stress and anxiety. So next time you feel overwhelmed, start with some deep breathing.
2. Drink tea: Studies show that drinking tea balances the amount of the cortisol hormone released after stress and makes us feel more relaxed. So maybe the British are on to something here. Here are some more great tea health benefits.
3. Retreat to your imagination: Close your eyes, eliminate all noise (other than soothing music) and use all your senses to imagine a peaceful scene, and let calm wash over you. If it doesn't work, imagine a happy memory of a time when you felt at ease.
4. Exercise: Not only does physical activity give a well needed release for your anger and frustration, the endorphins that are released after help to dramatically reduce anxiety, as well as make you feel more powerful and in control. Here are some great exercises you can do at home.
5. Have intimate relations: Research shows that having intimate relations reduces the symptoms of stress and anxiety significantly. It's our body's way of thanking us for a job well done (procreating). Muscles lose their tension, and our body goes into a much more relaxed state.
6. Music: Studies show that listening to music can alleviate stress by activating bio-chemical mechanisms in the brain responsible for controlling the amount of stress we feel. Listen to some beautiful music.
7. Yoga: We'll say it again - yoga is great. The combination of breathing techniques and physical activity makes yoga one heck of a soldier in the fight against anxiety. Read more about the health benefits of yoga.
8. Walking: A quiet walk, especially at night, can do wonders for stress. There are many types of walking exercises you can do, from easy to more difficult, that will help you in different ways. Here's how you can choose the best walking exercise for your needs.
9. Talk to a loved one: Some people need to 'get it off their chest', and who better to talk to than someone who is on your side. Maybe it's a partner, a great friend or a relative, but the interaction and closeness can do wonders.
10. Take a break: Take yourselves out of a stressful situation from time to time, don't slog it. The time off will help you come back with renewed energy. Remember, you are not a machine, you need these little breaks.
11. Scented candles: Studies show that aromatherapy can be very effective against stress, and lavender scents have been directly linked to a decrease in overall stress. Read more about the health benefits of certain scents
12. A long, pampering massage: There's nothing like a good massage to take away all the combined stress in your muscles and let it go. Studies have shown that a 40-minute massage can do a lot to reduce stress in the body as well as improving our self-image. Ask your partner to massage you or pamper yourself with a professional massage.
13. Get a pet: Statistics show that people who own pets are less stressed. One theory is that pets take us outside of the human world and the stress it creates, and make us forget about it for a while. After all, the world of a cat or a dog is a much nicer, calmer place, where momentary pleasures are much more important than worrying. Dogs, for example can actually make you live longer.
14. Write a diary: Writing a diary is a well known treatment for alleviating stress and anxiety. Pick a time of day to sit down and write about whatever you are feeling and going through. Let the stress flow out with the ink (or virtual ink if you are using a computer).
15. Take a nap: A nap, usually around noon, is a great way to let your body balance its hormones and release stress. Read more about why naps are so good for you.
16. Meditation: The best thing about meditation is that it allows the brain to relax for a bit and so decreases the over-thinking we do and the stress that comes with it. Give your mind a well needed break. Read our guide to meditating at home
18. Laugh: It's not a myth that laughter can be the best medicine, as it releases endorphins that significantly reduce the levels of stress in the body. So watch a comedy, read some jokes or share some laughs with a funny friend.
19. Take time for yourself: Find time to be alone, isolate the disturbing thoughts and think of creative ideas. Sometimes it's better not to run from stress, but deal with it.
20. Believe in yourself: If there's one thing we can leave you with, it is this: Know that you have the power to succeed and overcome any problem, believe in yourself enough to take risks and take that important step forward.