Everyone deals with stress. While nobody is immune to it, some people certainly are able to handle it better than others — either by the nature of their personality or through a great deal of practice.
That’s not very fair at all, because untreated stress can cause depression, anxiety, stroke, heart attack, irritability, vomiting, and nausea. It can also affect our sex drive and damage our immune system, making us more susceptible to diseases.
Lucky for you, there’s no need to continue to suffer even you’re not naturally good at handling stress very well. All you need to do is to learn how to manage it better.
For many, that means doing the obvious things that promote relaxation and rejuvenation. Some of those things may include taking time off from work, getting more sleep, delegating certain tasks to others, booking a day at the spa, finding time to indulge in a hobby or going for long walks in the woods.
Those are all great things to do, but they do take time, and they don’t encompass all of what you can do to help battle stress as it surfaces when you least expect it. Here are 10 more things you can easily pick up wherever and whenever you’re feeling a bit tense.
Swear out loud
Just don’t let your coworkers (or your mother) hear you! As long as you don’t do it out of sheer anger, swearing can increase an overall sense of calmness and control. The simple act of exercising your vocal chords has been shown to reduce stress, so even if you can’t exactly use swear words, you can still benefit from finding a way to shout, talk, sing or even hum your way to a bit of calmness.
Scream. Into a jar.
We know that screaming is one of the most effective ways to instantly release lots of pent-up emotions and tension — resulting in a sense of release and relief. We also know that work makes us want to scream, and that the Japanese work really hard.
So of course the Japanese have come up with the brilliantly simple scream jar, also known as a shouting vase. The idea behind this unusual stress buster is that the screaming jar reduces your noise while also giving you the psychological satisfaction of “bottling” your frustration into a defined object. The physical act of sealing the jar then helps to contain and compartmentalize the stress, giving you a sense of control and release on top of the great anti-stress chemicals you just got from screaming.
Eat a handful of pistachios
Not only can crunching your teeth down give you a nice outlet for physically letting out feelings of frustration, but pistachios in particular have been shown to lower blood pressure. A Penn State University study found that eating a three-ounce serving of pistachios a day can even relax the arteries and put less pressure on the heart to work harder.
Blow up a balloon
You may not be feeling like throwing a party if you’re stressed, but blowing up a balloon or two is a great way to force yourself to inhale and exhale slowly. It makes you use your diaphragm and engages your parasympathetic nervous system to naturally breathe out those feelings of stress and anxiety.
Force yourself to laugh
Sometimes known as laughing yoga, this anti-stress technique involves forcing yourself to laugh even when you don’t feel like it. This practice helps release endorphins, the feel-good hormone, which in turn helps reduce stress and improve your mood. It also helps loosen up tight muscles and increase circulation, leading to a relaxed state of mind and body.
Sniff something that smells good
Countless studies have suggested that aromatherapy is an effective way to reduce stress. To see how it works for yourself, you can try smuggling some bottles of calming scents like lavender, jasmine, vanilla, coconut or any other favorite scents you might really like into your work. Every now and then take an opportunity to sit back, take a whiff, and feel your mind clear up. Your sense of smell is more deeply rooted in your brain than any of the other four senses and is strongly intertwined with memory and emotion, which is why it can work so well to combat stress.
Walk barefoot through grass
No, it’s not just for young children and hippies. Walking barefoot through grass has been shown to provide a wide range of health benefits from reducing inflammation and improving sleep, to regulating heart rate variability and balancing blood glucose levels.
If you have the opportunity to, you should absolutely try going for a walk barefoot. This “earthing” allows you to connect with the earth and absorb its natural energy, improving all kinds of health markers and massively boosting your overall well-being.
And you just have to admit it—cool grass between your toes just feels really, really good!
Drink a glass of orange juice
Orange juice is a great source of vitamin C, which is known to lower cortisol, a stress hormone. In a German study, 120 people were given the stressful task of having to speak publicly and solve math problems. Those who had been asked to take a vitamin C supplement showed much lower levels of cortisol and blood pressure compared to those who didn’t take the supplement.
Do the “freeze” yoga pose
The “Freeze” yoga pose, also known as the “Warrior III” pose, is a powerful technique for reducing stress and tension in the body. This pose involves standing on one leg and reaching forward with the opposite arm and leg, creating a sense of balance and stability in the body.
The physical act of holding this pose requires focus and concentration, helping to redirect the mind away from stressors and distractions. Additionally, the pose helps to build strength and stability in the legs and core, which can improve posture and reduce physical tension in the body.
The “Freeze” yoga pose also has a calming effect on the nervous system, helping to reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. By holding this pose, individuals can tap into their inner strength and find a sense of grounding and peace in their body and mind.
Massage your ears
Believe it or not, your ears contain pressure points that can help regulate your emotions when they’re stimulated in the right way. Try spending about 3 to 5 minutes slowly rubbing the inner areas of your ear and moving to the outer cartilage areas. Repeat on the other ear for a total of about 10 minutes.
An ancient Japanese hand pressure point massage technique
Yoga, massage, and regular exercise can help us cope with stress. But there is an ancient Japanese self-relaxation technique you can do anywhere, with no equipment, and in just 5 minutes.
First consider — and take it on faith for now; this is the traditional explanation for the technique — that each of our fingers represent a different kind of feeling or emotion. Here’s the finger to emotion chart:
- Thumb – worry and anxiety;
- Index finger – fear;
- Middle finger – rage and bitterness;
- Ring finger – depression and melancholy;
- Pinky finger – self-esteem.
The aim of the Japanese finger pressure method we’re about to show you is to balance the “opposing energy forces” in the body. We don’t know about that, but we do know it works. You start by taking one finger at a time, grasping it with the other hand and wrapping every finger around it. Each finger should be held for one to two fingers, waiting until you feel the pulse. At that point you will know that it works.
In order to aid in relaxation, you should apply slight pressure on the center of the palm with the opposite thumb, holding for 1 minute. Practicing this technique daily will “help your spirit become balanced” (de-stress you) and enable you deal with a hectic world in a much efficient manner.
You can do the technique anywhere and as much as you want. It’s pretty discrete as well!
Chew some gum
It may not look all that polite, but just like crunching on some nuts helps, chewing a piece of gum can be a similarly effective (and lower calorie option if it’s sugar-free) way to deal with stress. A study showed that chewing gum helped people feel less anxious, become more alert, and perform better when given a series of multitasking instructions. It also helps improve blood flow and general cognitive function, leading to a relaxed state of mind.
Get an adult coloring book
Adult coloring books are the big new stress-reducing trend everyone has been talking about. Whether it’s the enjoyment of seeing different colors, the artistic nature of it all or the mindless activity associated with coloring — more people are jumping on the coloring book bandwagon to help them wind down from the stress associated with their adult responsibilities.
Any kind of doodling is a form of mindfulness activity that can help you focus and relieve stress. By engaging in this simple, repetitive task, you shift your attention away from worries and onto the present moment. This helps release pent-up tension and calm the mind.
Chew on ice
While the act of chewing on ice may seem odd, it has been shown to have a calming effect on the body and mind, helping to relieve stress and improve mood.
The physical act of chewing on ice can help to distract the mind from stressors and stimulate the production of endorphins, which can have a relaxing and calming effect on the body. Additionally, the cold temperature of the ice can help to reduce inflammation and soothe sore or tense muscles, leading to a sense of physical and emotional relaxation.
Talk to a plant
Talking to your office’s Monstera plant may seem silly, but studies have shown that any kind of interacting with nature, including a single little plant, can help reduce stress. Also, again, by focusing on the plant, you shift your attention away from worries and onto the present moment. This type of mindfulness activity can help you feel more relaxed and rejuvenated.
Stress shouldn’t have to rule your life, and now you have some good (and easy) strategies to help you get a better handle on it.