- 16 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress and Anxiety
- 10 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress
- Six relaxation techniques to reduce stress
- 6 Ways To Reduce Stress and Stop Worrying!
- What Happens When We Don’t Manage Stress Effectively?
- Six Ways To Reduce Stress and Stop Worrying
- 1. Stop The Adrenaline
- 2. Get Enough Sleep
- 3. Build In Time To Stop & Relax
- 4: Don’t Run Yourself Ragged
- 5. Stress Is Closely Related To Worry So Worry Less
- 6. Reduce A Worry’s Power Over You
- email me below
- 6 Ways For Entrepreneurs To Relieve Stress
- 1. Stay active.
- 2. Eat healthy.
- 4. Take mini-breaks.
- 5. Read a good book.
- 6. Get enough sleep.
- Stress: How to Manage and Reduce It
16 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress and Anxiety
Written by Kerri-Ann Jennings, MS, RD on August 28, 2018
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Stress and anxiety are common experiences for most people.
In fact, 70% of adults in the US say they feel stress or anxiety daily.
Here are 16 simple ways to relieve stress and anxiety.
Exercise is one of the most important things you can do to combat stress.
It might seem contradictory, but putting physical stress on your body through exercise can relieve mental stress.
The benefits are strongest when you exercise regularly. People who exercise regularly are less ly to experience anxiety than those who don’t exercise (1).
There are a few reasons behind this:
- Stress hormones: Exercise lowers your body’s stress hormones — such as cortisol — in the long run. It also helps release endorphins, which are chemicals that improve your mood and act as natural painkillers.
- Sleep: Exercise can also improve your sleep quality, which can be negatively affected by stress and anxiety.
- Confidence: When you exercise regularly, you may feel more competent and confident in your body, which in turn promotes mental wellbeing.
Try to find an exercise routine or activity you enjoy, such as walking, dancing, rock climbing or yoga.
Activities — such as walking or jogging — that involve repetitive movements of large muscle groups can be particularly stress relieving.
Summary Regular exercise can help lower stress and anxiety by releasing endorphins and improving your sleep and self-image.
Several supplements promote stress and anxiety reduction. Here is a brief overview of some of the most common ones:
- Lemon balm: Lemon balm is a member of the mint family that has been studied for its anti-anxiety effects (2).
- Omega-3 fatty acids: One study showed that medical students who received omega-3 supplements experienced a 20% reduction in anxiety symptoms (3).
- Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha is an herb used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat stress and anxiety. Several studies suggest that it’s effective (4).
- Green tea: Green tea contains many polyphenol antioxidants which provide health benefits. It may lower stress and anxiety by increasing serotonin levels (5).
- Valerian: Valerian root is a popular sleep aid due to its tranquilizing effect. It contains valerenic acid, which alters gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors to lower anxiety.
- Kava kava: Kava kava is a psychoactive member of the pepper family. Long used as a sedative in the South Pacific, it is increasingly used in Europe and the US to treat mild stress and anxiety (6).
Some supplements can interact with medications or have side effects, so you may want to consult with a doctor if you have a medical condition.
Shop for ashwagandha, omega-3 supplements, green tea, and lemon balm online.
Summary Certain supplements can reduce stress and anxiety, including ashwagandha, omega-3 fatty acids, green tea and lemon balm.
Using essential oils or burning a scented candle may help reduce your feelings of stress and anxiety.
Some scents are especially soothing. Here are some of the most calming scents:
- Roman chamomile
- Ylang ylang
- Orange or orange blossom
Using scents to treat your mood is called aromatherapy. Several studies show that aromatherapy can decrease anxiety and improve sleep (7, 8, 9).
Summary Aromatherapy can help lower anxiety and stress. Light a candle or use essential oils to benefit from calming scents.
Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, tea, chocolate and energy drinks. High doses can increase anxiety (10).
People have different thresholds for how much caffeine they can tolerate.
If you notice that caffeine makes you jittery or anxious, consider cutting back.
Although many studies show that coffee can be healthy in moderation, it’s not for everyone. In general, five or fewer cups per day is considered a moderate amount.
Summary High quantities of caffeine can increase stress and anxiety. However, people’s sensitivity to caffeine can vary greatly.
One way to handle stress is to write things down.
While recording what you’re stressed about is one approach, another is jotting down what you’re grateful for.
Gratitude may help relieve stress and anxiety by focusing your thoughts on what’s positive in your life.
Shop for journals online.
Summary Keeping a journal can help relieve stress and anxiety, especially if you focus on the positive.
For a super easy and quick stress reliever, try chewing a stick of gum.
One study showed that people who chewed gum had a greater sense of wellbeing and lower stress (11).
One possible explanation is that chewing gum causes brain waves similar to those of relaxed people. Another is that chewing gum promotes blood flow to your brain.
Additionally, one recent study found that stress relief was greatest when people chewed more strongly (12).
Shop for chewing gum online.
Summary According to several studies, chewing gum may help you relax. It may also promote wellbeing and reduce stress.
Social support from friends and family can help you get through stressful times.
Being part of a friend network gives you a sense of belonging and self-worth, which can help you in tough times.
One study found that for women in particular, spending time with friends and children helps release oxytocin, a natural stress reliever. This effect is called “tend and befriend,” and is the opposite of the fight-or-flight response (13).
Keep in mind that both men and women benefit from friendship.
Another study found that men and women with the fewest social connections were more ly to suffer from depression and anxiety (14).
Summary Having strong social ties may help you get through stressful times and lower your risk of anxiety.
It’s hard to feel anxious when you’re laughing. It’s good for your health, and there are a few ways it may help relieve stress:
- Relieving your stress response.
- Relieving tension by relaxing your muscles.
In the long term, laughter can also help improve your immune system and mood.
A study among people with cancer found that people in the laughter intervention group experienced more stress relief than those who were simply distracted (15).
Try watching a funny TV show or hanging out with friends who make you laugh.
Summary Find the humor in everyday life, spend time with funny friends or watch a comedy show to help relieve stress.
Not all stressors are within your control, but some are.
Take control over the parts of your life that you can change and are causing you stress.
One way to do this may be to say “no” more often.
This is especially true if you find yourself taking on more than you can handle, as juggling many responsibilities can leave you feeling overwhelmed.
Being selective about what you take on — and saying no to things that will unnecessarily add to your load — can reduce your stress levels.
Summary Try not to take on more than you can handle. Saying no is one way to control your stressors.
Another way to take control of your stress is to stay on top of your priorities and stop procrastinating.
Procrastination can lead you to act reactively, leaving you scrambling to catch up. This can cause stress, which negatively affects your health and sleep quality (16).
Get in the habit of making a to-do list organized by priority. Give yourself realistic deadlines and work your way down the list.
Work on the things that need to get done today and give yourself chunks of uninterrupted time, as switching between tasks or multitasking can be stressful itself.
Summary Prioritize what needs to get done and make time for it. Staying on top of your to-do list can help ward off procrastination-related stress.
Yoga has become a popular method of stress relief and exercise among all age groups.
While yoga styles differ, most share a common goal — to join your body and mind.
Yoga primarily does this by increasing body and breath awareness.
Some studies have examined yoga’s effect on mental health. Overall, research has found that yoga can enhance mood and may even be as effective as antidepressant drugs at treating depression and anxiety (17).
However, many of these studies are limited, and there are still questions about how yoga works to achieve stress reduction.
In general, the benefit of yoga for stress and anxiety seems to be related to its effect on your nervous system and stress response.
It may help lower cortisol levels, blood pressure and heart rate and increase gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that is lowered in mood disorders.
Summary Yoga is widely used for stress reduction. It may help lower stress hormone levels and blood pressure.
Mindfulness describes practices that anchor you to the present moment.
It can help combat the anxiety-inducing effects of negative thinking (18).
There are several methods for increasing mindfulness, including mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction, yoga and meditation.
A recent study in college students suggested that mindfulness may help increase self-esteem, which in turn lessens symptoms of anxiety and depression (18).
Summary Mindfulness practices can help lower symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Cuddling, kissing, hugging and sex can all help relieve stress (19, 20).
Positive physical contact can help release oxytocin and lower cortisol. This can help lower blood pressure and heart rate, both of which are physical symptoms of stress.
Interestingly, humans aren’t the only animals who cuddle for stress relief. Chimpanzees also cuddle friends who are stressed (21).
Summary Positive touch from cuddling, hugging, kissing and sex may help lower stress by releasing oxytocin and lowering blood pressure.
Listening to music can have a very relaxing effect on the body.
Slow-paced instrumental music can induce the relaxation response by helping lower blood pressure and heart rate as well as stress hormones.
Some types of classical, Celtic, Native American and Indian music can be particularly soothing, but simply listening to the music you enjoy is effective too (22).
Nature sounds can also be very calming. This is why they’re often incorporated into relaxation and meditation music.
Summary Listening to music you can be a good way to relieve stress.
Mental stress activates your sympathetic nervous system, signaling your body to go into “fight-or-flight” mode.
During this reaction, stress hormones are released and you experience physical symptoms such as a faster heartbeat, quicker breathing and constricted blood vessels.
Deep breathing exercises can help activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the relaxation response.
There are several types of deep breathing exercises, including diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, belly breathing and paced respiration.
The goal of deep breathing is to focus your awareness on your breath, making it slower and deeper. When you breathe in deeply through your nose, your lungs fully expand and your belly rises.
This helps slow your heart rate, allowing you to feel more peaceful.
This video explains how to practice diaphragmatic breathing.
Summary Deep breathing activates the relaxation response. Multiple methods can help you learn how to breathe deeply.
Having a pet may help reduce stress and improve your mood.
Interacting with pets may help release oxytocin, a brain chemical that promotes a positive mood (23).
Having a pet may also help relieve stress by giving you purpose, keeping you active and providing companionship — all qualities that help reduce anxiety.
Summary Spending time with your pet is a relaxing, enjoyable way to reduce stress.
Although stress and anxiety may arise in your workplace and personal life, there are many simple ways to reduce the pressure you feel.
These tips often involve getting your mind away from the source of stress.
Exercise, mindfulness, music and physical intimacy can all work to relieve anxiety — and they will improve your overall work-life balance as well.
Read this article in Spanish.
10 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress
It might surprise you to learn that biological stress is a fairly recent discovery. It wasn't until the late 1950s that endocrinologist Hans Selye first identified and documented stress.
Symptoms of stress existed long before Selye, but his discoveries led to new research that has helped millions cope with stress. We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 ways to relieve stress.
If you're feeling overwhelmed by a stressful situation, try taking a break and listening to relaxing music. Playing calm music has a positive effect on the brain and body, can lower blood pressure, and reduce cortisol, a hormone linked to stress.
We recommend cello master Yo-Yo Ma playing Bach, but if classical really isn’t your thing, try listening to ocean or nature sounds. It may sound cheesy, but they have similar relaxing effects to music.
When you’re feeling stressed, take a break to call a friend and talk about your problems. Good relationships with friends and loved ones are important to any healthy lifestyle.
They’re especially important when you're under a lot of stress. A reassuring voice, even for a minute, can put everything in perspective.
Sometimes calling a friend is not an option. If this is the case, talking calmly to yourself can be the next best thing.
Don’t worry about seeming crazy — just tell yourself why you're stressed out, what you have to do to complete the task at hand, and most importantly, that everything will be okay.
Stress levels and a proper diet are closely related. When we’re overwhelmed, we often forget to eat well and resort to using sugary, fatty snack foods as a pick-me-up.
Try to avoid sugary snacks and plan ahead. Fruits and vegetables are always good, and fish with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce the symptoms of stress. A tuna sandwich really is brain food.
Laughter releases endorphins that improve mood and decrease levels of the stress-causing hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Laughing tricks your nervous system into making you happy.
Our suggestion: watch some classic Monty Python skits “The Ministry of Silly Walks.” Those Brits are so hilarious, you’ll soon be cracking up, rather than cracking up.
A large dose of caffeine causes a short-term spike in blood pressure. It may also cause your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis to go into overdrive.
Instead of coffee or energy drinks, try green tea. It has less than half the caffeine of coffee and contains healthy antioxidants, as well as theanine, an amino acid that has a calming effect on the nervous system.
Most of the tips we’ve suggested provide immediate relief, but there are also many lifestyle changes that can be more effective in the long run. The concept of “mindfulness” is a large part of meditative and somatic approaches to mental health and has become popular recently.
From yoga and tai chi to meditation and Pilates, these systems of mindfulness incorporate physical and mental exercises that prevent stress from becoming a problem. Try joining a class.
Exercise doesn't necessarily mean power lifting at the gym or training for a marathon. A short walk around the office or simply standing up to stretch during a break at work can offer immediate relief in a stressful situation.
Getting your blood moving releases endorphins and can improve your mood almost instantaneously.
Everyone knows stress can cause you to lose sleep. Unfortunately, lack of sleep is also a key cause of stress. This vicious cycle causes the brain and body to get whack and only gets worse with time.
Make sure to get the doctor-recommended seven to eight hours of sleep. Turn the TV off earlier, dim the lights, and give yourself time to relax before going to bed. It may be the most effective stress buster on our list.
The advice “take a deep breath” may seem a cliché, but it holds true when it comes to stress. For centuries, Buddhist monks have been conscious of deliberate breathing during meditation.
For an easy three- to five-minute exercise, sit up in your chair with your feet flat on the floor and hands on top of your knees. Breathe in and out slowly and deeply, concentrating on your lungs as they expand fully in your chest.
While shallow breathing causes stress, deep breathing oxygenates your blood, helps center your body, and clears your mind.
Stress is an unavoidable part of life, but that doesn't mean you should ignore it. Too much untreated stress can cause potentially serious physical and mental health problems.
The good news is that in many cases, stress is manageable. With some patience and a few useful strategies, you can reduce your stress, whether it's family stress or stress at the workplace.
Six relaxation techniques to reduce stress
We all face stressful situations throughout our lives, ranging from minor annoyances traffic jams to more serious worries, such as a loved one's grave illness. No matter what the cause, stress floods your body with hormones. Your heart pounds, your breathing speeds up, and your muscles tense.
This so-called “stress response” is a normal reaction to threatening situations, honed in our prehistory to help us survive threats an animal attack or a flood.
Today, we rarely face these physical dangers, but challenging situations in daily life can set off the stress response. We can't avoid all sources of stress in our lives, nor would we want to.
But we can develop healthier ways of responding to them.
One way is to invoke the “relaxation response,” through a technique first developed in the 1970s at Harvard Medical School by cardiologist Dr.
Herbert Benson, editor of the Harvard Medical School Special Health Report Stress Management: Approaches for preventing and reducing stress. The relaxation response is the opposite of the stress response.
It's a state of profound rest that can be elicited in many ways. With regular practice, you create a well of calm to dip into as the need arises.
Following are six relaxation techniques that can help you evoke the relaxation response and reduce stress.
1. Breath focus. In this simple, powerful technique, you take long, slow, deep breaths (also known as abdominal or belly breathing). As you breathe, you gently disengage your mind from distracting thoughts and sensations.
Breath focus can be especially helpful for people with eating disorders to help them focus on their bodies in a more positive way.
However, this technique may not be appropriate for those with health problems that make breathing difficult, such as respiratory ailments or heart failure.
2. Body scan. This technique blends breath focus with progressive muscle relaxation.
After a few minutes of deep breathing, you focus on one part of the body or group of muscles at a time and mentally releasing any physical tension you feel there. A body scan can help boost your awareness of the mind-body connection.
If you have had a recent surgery that affects your body image or other difficulties with body image, this technique may be less helpful for you.
3. Guided imagery. For this technique, you conjure up soothing scenes, places, or experiences in your mind to help you relax and focus.
You can find free apps and online recordings of calming scenes—just make sure to choose imagery you find soothing and that has personal significance.
Guided imagery may help you reinforce a positive vision of yourself, but it can be difficult for those who have intrusive thoughts or find it hard to conjure up mental images.
4. Mindfulness meditation.
This practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing, and bringing your mind's attention to the present moment without drifting into concerns about the past or the future. This form of meditation has enjoyed increasing popularity in recent years. Research suggests it may be helpful for people with anxiety, depression, and pain.
5. Yoga, tai chi, and qigong. These three ancient arts combine rhythmic breathing with a series of postures or flowing movements.
The physical aspects of these practices offer a mental focus that can help distract you from racing thoughts. They can also enhance your flexibility and balance.
But if you are not normally active, have health problems, or a painful or disabling condition, these relaxation techniques might be too challenging. Check with your doctor before starting them.
6. Repetitive prayer. For this technique, you silently repeat a short prayer or phrase from a prayer while practicing breath focus. This method may be especially appealing if religion or spirituality is meaningful to you.
Rather than choosing just one technique, experts recommend sampling several to see which one works best for you. Try to practice for at least 20 minutes a day, although even just a few minutes can help. But the longer and the more often you practice these relaxation techniques, the greater the benefits and the more you can reduce stress.
– By Julie Corliss
Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter
Image: © Robert Kneschke | Dreamstime.com
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
6 Ways To Reduce Stress and Stop Worrying!
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What Happens When We Don’t Manage Stress Effectively?
In small doses, stress can actually be useful as it helps you to stay focused, alert and increases energy. But when stress becomes chronic though, it can damage your health, mood and relationships. Basically, your overall quality of life!
Stress is sneaky! It can easily creep up on you so that being frazzled and overwhelmed starts to feel normal. You may not even recognize how much it is affecting you so it is really important to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress and then take steps to stop feeling so overwhelmed.
Six Ways To Reduce Stress and Stop Worrying
So now you have identified how stress affecting you, let’s look at ways to feel less stressed and worried.
1. Stop The Adrenaline
When you are stressed, adrenaline runs through your body. Your heart beats fast, your body tenses up and one very important effect is that your thoughts race.
Racing thoughts make thinking clearly difficult and that is when you get overwhelmed and stressed.
Doing a quick breathing exercise clears your thoughts and lets you take a time out so you can come back to the situation and deal with it calmly.
1. Take a slow breath in through the nose, breathing into your lower belly so you feel it inflate a balloon (for the count of 4)2. Hold your breath for 1 or 2 seconds3.
Exhale slowly through the mouth so that you are pushing out the air in the “balloon” and you feel your belly suck in (for the count of 5)4.
Make sure the exhale breath is one or two counts longer that the inhale breath as this activates a greater relaxation response.
5. Wait a few seconds before taking another breath
Deep breathing triggers the stimulation of the vagus nerve which is a nerve running from the base of the brain to the abdomen.
The vagas nerve then emits a chemical (the neurotransmitter acetylcholine) and that dampens our nervous system, lowering heart rate, relaxes muscles and most importantly, stops your thoughts from racing so you can think straight.
As a psychologist I have been telling people the benefits of deep breathing for over 20 years but it is only the past few years with the advances of brain imaging that we know how the process works.
More details about how and why this works can be found in my blog post A Simple Way To Keep Calm
2. Get Enough Sleep
Getting more sleep sounds easy in theory, but so many people find it hard to achieve. It is the most important thing to change if you are feeling stressed though. The average amount of sleep needed by adults for their body and mind to be fully rested is around seven hours a night.
This of course can vary but you know you aren’t getting enough when your mood is negatively affected. Lack of sleep can stop you thinking clearly, wrecks productivity and can alter your mood significantly.
The “walking tired” anger more easily, have problematic relationships and are less ly than those who sleep well to exercise, eat healthfully, and engage in fun leisure activities; all because they are too tired.
What with work, errands and seeing to their family’s needs, women have so much to do that often they feel they can only get them done by staying up late. My clients also tell me they stay up late as it is the only way to get some “me time”.
Staying up late is probably not working for you though and improving your sleep is one of the best ways to improve the quality of your life.
We need to work on being either more organized or less perfectionist about getting things done, knowing it’s okay to ask and expect help, and knowing it is totally necessary to have “me time”. But not at the expense of sleep!
I also have a lot more info on my blog post Sleep – Why It Is Important & How To Get It
3. Build In Time To Stop & Relax
I often hear my clients say “Come on, how on earth will I be able to make time for myself when I have so much to do?” and I always reply, if you don’t look after yourself you won’t have the reserves to take care of all the other people in your life you take care of. When our reserves are low we’re cranky, overly sensitive and generally not as happy as we want to be. So please take some time each day, even if it only 10 minutes, to relax.
- Have a warm bath (not hot) as this will help your body reach a temperature that’s ideal for rest.
- Writing “to do” lists for the next day can organize your thoughts and clear your mind of any worrying thoughts that pop in to your head (more about that later…)
- Relaxation exercises, such as light yoga stretches, help to relax the muscles. Don’t exercise vigorously though, as it will have the opposite effect.
- Relaxation CDs can help as they use a hypnotic voice to guide you through muscle relaxation and soothing music and sound effects to relax your brain.
- Watching TV or any computer or phone screen keeps the brain engaged and active so it is harder to fall asleep. It is better to read a book or listen to the radio as that relaxes the mind by distracting it from the present worries.
4: Don’t Run Yourself Ragged
Say no! If you are a people-pleaser it is very hard to say no when someone asks you to do something, even if your schedule is already overwhelming. I suggest that you always say “let me get back to you on that” then actually ask yourself:
a) Do I want to do it?
b) Do I have time to do it without making myself overwhelmed?
It is usually easier to say no when you are not face to face with someone.
5. Stress Is Closely Related To Worry So Worry Less
So how do we worry less? Obviously easier said than done but the first step is to distinguish between worries that require your attention and worries that are unnecessary.
The following questions can help you clarify this:
“Can I do something about this problem?”
“Is this something I always worry about, but nothing ever happens?”
“Is this something that has a solution?”
“Will my worrying make this situation better or worse or have no effect at all?”
If there is something you can do about the problem, take action or consciously choose not to take action.
People often delay or avoid taking action or making decisions because they are worried about making a mistake.
If the situation is your control and there is nothing you can do, worrying does not make the situation better!
Tell yourself that your worries are not helpful and let them go. Again , I know this is easier said than done, but it can improve with practice.
It can help to challenge your thoughts about the worry and ask yourself:
“Where’s the evidence for that?” or
“What would be so bad about that?” or
“Is this problem so important that I should spend all my time thinking about it?”
To read more about reducing worry read The Number One Question That Helps Worrying
6. Reduce A Worry’s Power Over You
One very effective way to reduce a worry’s power over you is by getting the negative thoughts your head and on to paper. Being able to see the worry in black and white helps give you more perspective.
Study your worries by keeping a Worry Diary.
Write down what you fear might happen (be as specific as possible) and then later write down if what you were worried about actually happened, whether it was as bad as you expected, and what you did to cope with the situation.
This will help you understand your worries better, distinguish between worries that are useful and those that are useless, and help you realize that you can cope no matter what happens.
- Set aside some time during the day to worry— your “worry time”. Select a time every day that is convenient for you and pick a suitable amount of time to worry (half an hour, one hour). Use this time to think about your worries and about possible resolutions. It can be helpful to write things down. It will take time to train yourself not to dwell on worries at other times of the day or night.
- Practice is key here. What you can do if you worry outside of the set aside time is to write the worry down and put it in a “worry box” (you can use an empty tissue box for this or write the worry in a list you keep on your smart phone). Then, when it’s your official worry time, you can look at your worries and deal with them appropriately.
- Keep a pen and a pad of paper for worries that come to you at night. Night worries can go round and around in our head as it seems so important at the time to remember them. This can cause adrenaline levels to start rising in your body which of course, keeps you awake and your thoughts racing more. Writing the worry down and then distracting yourself (read using a book light or do a relaxation techniques) calms you physically and mentally, allowing you to get to sleep.
I hope you find these 6 tips useful. If you would to read more about ways to overcome anxiety and worrying please take a look at my free booklet.
When clients first come in to see me, the main concerns that come up again and again are:
So I put together a booklet with some strategies I am always giving to my clients to help them begin to feel less anxiety and to worry less.
I hope that you will find it helpful too.
Add your first name and email address in the box below and you will be sent the steps to download your FREE book.
email me below
6 Ways For Entrepreneurs To Relieve Stress
Forty percent of adults say that the stress of their day prevents them from sleeping at night. A million people skip work every day for stress-related reasons. Stress on the job is no longer a problem — it’s an epidemic.
As the summer lull ends and fall kicks into gear, it’s almost a guarantee that your workload will increase — and your stress along with it. While an entrepreneur's busy professional life is never easy, it doesn’t have to take a toll on your mental health. In fact, it can't — if you get overly stressed, your team will absorb your stress and feel equally depleted.
If you’re looking to lower your (and your team's) stress levels without productivity taking a hit, here are a few places to start:
1. Stay active.
Stress isn’t just mental — it’s a physical phenomenon as well. Not enough activity can increase feelings of stress and depression. The best way around this is a simple one: Get moving!
Exercise running naturally boosts endorphins in the brain, boosting your mood in the process. Physical activity offers less obvious benefits as well, a set amount of alone time for reflection.
Setting aside the lifelong benefits, such as increased heart health and a lowered chance of obesity, exercise is one of the simplest and most effective ways to stamp out stress over time.
Whether it’s running, walking, hiking, or something else entirely, a little activity can go a long way.
2. Eat healthy.
Oftentimes, stress is something that’s built into entrepreneurs' daily lives. Work, commuting, or personal issues are necessary parts of living that can contribute to overall stress, and food is no exception.
Whether it’s the wrong foods, the wrong portions, or the wrong meal times, how you eat can have a major impact on how you feel.
To make sure your food is working for you, take extra steps to eat healthy, reasonable portions at the right times. Stress can cause overeating, which just leads to more stress.
Turning to food during upsetting periods can ruin the joy of eating in the first place. Make your meals work for you.
Yoga has been the “it” thing for a while now, and for good reason: Un most trends, yoga actually works over the long run.
Research has shown that yoga can lower stress levels and blood pressure when practiced properly. It’s also a great way to work in an automatic break — yoga routines can’t be rushed, so you’re forced to take everything in at just the right pace. Whether it’s before work, after work, or during lunch, a spot of yoga can do wonders for your state of mind.
4. Take mini-breaks.
Breaks are a weird thing. Nearly everyone takes them, but they almost always feel strange — you would be better off doing work instead. Even though regular breaks might not feel the most natural things, they’re absolutely critical for maintaining a healthy state of mind.
Whether you call them mini-breaks, timeouts, or something else entirely, there’s no denying the benefit of a little time off during the day. If you have a sedentary job, you can use occasional short breaks to move around. If you’re more active, take a little time off every couple of hours to meditate or just relax. In a busy office, a little time alone never hurts.
5. Read a good book.
Reading broadens your horizons, expands your vocabulary, and gives you a new perspective every time you engage in a new work. As it turns out, the right book can slash stress levels as well. Reading is up to 68 percent more effective than other common stress-busting strategies, listening to music or drinking tea.
Most adults have a hard time finding moments to dive into a good book. While a busy schedule is never easy to overcome, the stress-relieving properties of literature make finding time a must.
6. Get enough sleep.
Seventy-five percent of adults with stress and anxiety issues reported that bad sleep made their issues noticeably worse. The numbers are clear: You can’t overcome any kind of stress if you’re not getting your sleeping schedule under control.
Mandate a certain set of sleeping hours — no work, no phones, lights off. While falling asleep isn’t always easy, it’s almost impossible when you’re surrounded by potentially stress-inducing distractions. There’s no better place to slow down, relax, and get some rest than at home in bed.
Nearly every entrepreneur has suffered professional stress, and there’s no easy way around it. Balancing your life is about finding what works for you and sticking to it. Stress may be unpredictable — just entrepreneurship itself — but you have the tools at your disposal to deal with it when it strikes.
Stress: How to Manage and Reduce It
These days it’s hard not to get overwhelmed once in a while. Between juggling work, family, and other commitments, you can become too stressed out and busy. But you need to set time aside to unwind or your mental and physical health can suffer.
Learning how to manage your stress takes practice, but you can — and need to — do it. Here are 10 ways to make it easier.
Working out regularly is one of the best ways to relax your body and mind. Plus, exercise will improve your mood. But you have to do it often for it to pay off.
So how much should you exercise every week?
Work up to 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise brisk walks or 75 minutes of a more vigorous exercise swimming laps, jogging or other sports.
Focus on setting fitness goals you can meet so you don’t give up. Most of all remember that doing any exercise is better than none at all.
When you’re stressed, your muscles get tense. You can help loosen them up on your own and refresh your body by:
Stopping and taking a few deep breaths can take the pressure off you right away. You’ll be surprised how much better you feel once you get good at it. Just follow these 5 steps:
- Sit in a comfortable position with your hands in your lap and your feet on the floor. Or you can lie down.
- Close your eyes.
- Imagine yourself in a relaxing place. It can be on the beach, in a beautiful field of grass, or anywhere that gives you a peaceful feeling.
- Slowly take deep breaths in and out.
- Do this for 5 to 10 minutes at a time.
Eating a regular, well-balanced diet will help you feel better in general. It may also help control your moods. Your meals should be full of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and lean protein for energy. And don’t skip any. It’s not good for you and can put you in a bad mood, which can actually increase your stress.
Modern life is so busy, and sometimes we just need to slow down and chill out. Look at your life and find small ways you can do that. For example:
- Set your watch 5 to 10 minutes ahead. That way you’ll get places a little early and avoid the stress of being late.
- When you’re driving on the highway, switch to the slow lane so you can avoid road rage.
- Break down big jobs into smaller ones. For example, don’t try to answer all 100 emails if you don’t have to — just answer a few of them.
You need to plan on some real downtime to give your mind time off from stress. If you’re a person who s to set goals, this may be hard for you at first. But stick with it and you’ll look forward to these moments. Restful things you can do include:
You need to set aside time for things you enjoy. Try to do something every day that makes you feel good, and it will help relieve your stress. It doesn’t have to be a ton of time — even 15 to 20 minutes will do. Relaxing hobbies include things :
- Doing an art project
- Playing golf
- Watching a movie
- Doing puzzles
- Playing cards and board games
If things are bothering you, talking about them can help lower your stress. You can talk to family members, friends, a trusted clergyman, your doctor, or a therapist.
And you can also talk to yourself. It’s called self-talk and we all do it. But in order for self-talk to help reduce stress you need to make sure it’s positive and not negative.
So listen closely to what you’re thinking or saying when you’re stressed out. If you’re giving yourself a negative message, change it to a positive one. For example, don’t tell yourself “I can’t do this.” Tell yourself instead: “I can do this,” or “I’m doing the best I can.”
Accept that you can’t do things perfectly no matter how hard you try. You also can’t control everything in your life. So do yourself a favor and stop thinking you can do so much. And don’t forget to keep up your sense of humor. Laughter goes a long way towards making you feel relaxed.
Figure out what are the biggest causes of stress in your life. Is it your job, your commute, your schoolwork? If you’re able to identify what they are, see if you’re able to eliminate them from your life, or at least reduce them.
If you can’t identify the main causes of your stress, try keeping a stress journal. Make note of when you become most anxious and see if you can determine a pattern, then find ways to remove or lessen those triggers.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America: “Tips to Manage Anxiety and Stress.”
American Heart Association: “Four Ways to Deal With Stress.”
Mayo Clinic: “Stress Management.”
HealthFinder.gov: “Manage Stress.”
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