We’ve all experienced symptoms of stress. No matter who you are or what you do, stress is always bound to slip into the frame from time to time - it’s part of human nature and can have a big impact on day to day life, especially if it’s not addressed.
Stress appears in many forms at different levels of intensity. Long-term stress, otherwise known as chronic stress, can have a particularly bad effect on the body – it impairs functions in the immune system making you more vulnerable to cold and flu. Combatting stress is essential in retaining your wellbeing.
Although stress is completely unavoidable, there are some ways to help keep it under control - all it takes is a little faith and loyalty to the routine. Stress is also an incredibly personal thing, as is the way in which we deal with it but hopefully you can take some of these techniques and adapt them to suit your needs, or use them as a starting point to find out more.
Have a catch up with a pal
One of the most effective stress relievers is found in good company, vocalising your trail of thought to somebody is key as stress is often an amalgamation of many factors – speaking through your problems helps you to locate the source of the stress. Vocalising your stress is also the first step towards acknowledging the issue which subsequently can get you on the road to resolution.
If you don’t feel like you have that companion who you can engage in these kinds of conversations with, then perhaps try out evening classes or taking up a new hobby which will allow you to mingle with like-minded people. Alternatively, there are many online platforms where you can chat to people all around the globe about whatever issue you wish to discuss; such as 7 Cups which connects you to therapists and counsellors who you can voice your thoughts to anonymously.
Although various approaches work for different people, we have uncovered some ways in which you can tap into the body’s natural relaxation response below:
Mindful breathing exercises
Breathing exercises are amazing - they’re incredibly effective and all you need is a quiet space in which to engage in it. The key to this is to make yourself as comfortable as you can; you may find this by sitting, standing or lying. When you are comfortable, simply inhale deeply through your nose, hold for five seconds before exhaling gently through your mouth. Repeat this process and allow your breathing to attune to the rhythm until it becomes natural. For more on this topic, check out our Everyday Mindfulness Techniques. Do this for roughly 3-5 minutes at a time. This technique is particularly effective for those who experience feelings of anger under stress.
Yoga is considered to be an effective form of relieving stress, being particular beneficial for triggering the part of the nervous system which relaxes heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension (known as the parasympathetic nervous system). There are many different forms of yoga, and is something easy to set up - it only requires you, a mat and a quiet place. Have a look at our post on 5 Different Types of Yoga to find a style to fit you, it includes Hatha Yoga, Bikram Yoga and Laughter Yoga (Yes! That exists!).
To gain the ultimate crash course in yoga technique, head to Steffy White Yoga, a superb blog specialising in the practice.
Meditation is one of the ultimate stress-relievers. The whole purpose of meditation is to focus all of you attention on the body’s natural cycles, this allows you to shift your attention away from regular trails of thought and allows you to view new perspectives which is particularly handy when you’re in the midst of a stressful situation.
You can start practicing meditation by sitting in a quiet room and applying focus entirely on your breathing patterns - follow and count the breath running in through your nose and out through your mouth. Start by practicing in 3-5 minute bursts.
Stress is something which first and foremost affects the brain, which in turn spreads the influence of stress to the rest of the body. Exercise releases endorphins which elevates mood and helps keep the body energised which both contribute to relieving stress. Head over to our fitness section to discover more about exercise and the huge amount of benefits it has to offer.
Get into the outdoors
Immersing yourself in nature is a simple, yet highly effectively way of relieving stress – the boost of Vitamin D you’ll attain from the sunshine will lift your mood. There isn’t a clear explanation as to why nature brings about calming effect on people’s moods, although studies have lent towards it being a result of floral aromas acting as a stress reliever; smells such as jasmine, fresh cut grass and lavender are among the few found. Read more about it here.
If you are experiencing particularly intense feelings of stress – lethargy, insomnia and high emotions, then you may need to check in with your local GP. Alternatively, you can get in touch with the mental health charity Mind which provides support and information on treatments.
Discover some amazing exercises and their benefits right here on the blog. Here’s some to get you started: Top 5 Ab Exercises, The 4 Things That Will Happen To You When You Start Weightlifting and Bodyweight Exercises.