Stress relief made simple
Why is stress relief so important? Here’s the answer: However different the causes of stress may be, the body’s reaction always remains the same: the body releases hormones that make your heart beat fast. As a result, the blood supply to your limbs is improved and your breathing becomes faster.
For our ancestors this reaction was beneficial. Only thanks to this rapid and strong reaction were they able to flee from their predators. In the modern world, however, we are very rarely eaten by a sabre-toothed tiger, and we can hardly ever run away from our problems. Ultimately, stress has become a permanent condition for many people.
The result: constant tension and even anxiety disorders. But what can you do about too much stress? Although you cannot avoid stress entirely, you can develop techniques to deal with it. In this article, we will take a closer look at some of these stress relief techniques. You will also learn how to deal with stressy situations, how to relief mental stress and how to avoid stressful situations before they even occur.
Stress relief techniques
Stress Relief methods can be roughly divided into three categories: physical techniques, breathing techniques and meditation techniques. We now want to introduce you to the most important methods from these categories.
Exercises for stress relief
Yoga, Tai-Chi, Qigong
All three techniques combine deep breathing and flowing movements with mental focus. The challenging exercises distract your mind from negative thoughts and you can concentrate completely on your breathing. Before you try any of the three techniques, it is important to check with a doctor to see if health problems could make the exercises difficult.
When was the last time you were at the pool? Gentle movements in the water are not only easy on the joints, they also help to lower the stress hormone levels in the body. Start your day with a short visit to the swimming pool. As an early swimmer you pay less and share the pool with only a few other people who take swimming as seriously as you do. Even if the initial effort is high, you will feel completely refreshed, awake and relaxed to start the day.
Go jogging or take a walk
Not only does jogging wonderfully distract you from your problems, it also helps them in the long run to keep your stress levels low. People who go jogging regularly usually have a higher resilience and can cope with everyday problems more easily. Another advantage of running is the so-called “runner’s high”. This feeling of happiness when running is triggered by a charge of endorphins that are released after a long distance. Once you have experienced this feeling, you will want it again and again…
Breathing exercises for stress relief
Breathing Exercises is one of the simplest and most effective stress relief techniques. If you consciously breathe in and out slowly, you free your mind from negative thoughts and lower your pulse rate. The following methods will help you to free yourself from stress.
Abdominal breathing is a wonderful quick solution whenever you need to relieve stress. You simply place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. As you breathe in deeply through your nose, you will feel your abdominal wall rising and falling. Your chest should not move. You can use your hand to push the air out of your belly again. The most important thing is that you take your time with this exercise. Hold the air briefly and feel it flowing out of your body again. Do this exercise until you feel more relaxed. But be careful: If you feel dizzy, you should stop.
Breathing in the morning
Do you sometimes feel like you don’t get enough air in the morning? Then it could be because your respiratory system is blocked. To clear your airways and at the same time relax your muscles, you can do the following exercise in the morning after getting up and opening your window:
- Stand up straight and bend forward. Knees slightly bent, arms hanging over the floor.
- Breathe in deeply and slowly while returning to an upright position.
- Straighten up in a rolling movement. Beginning at the waist and extending to your head.
Deep Breathing exercise for stress relief
Flat breathing into the chest is one of the most common reasons why stressful situations become so unbearable. Practice breathing through your abdomen every day to get used to the new breathing technique. No matter where you are, try to breathe consciously through your belly. Initially you can use your hands to help you to test whether your chest is rising. Feel how your breath flows through your body.
Meditation techniques for stress relief
Close your eyes and imagine a meditating person. Does this person look stressed? Probably not. Meditation is the symbol of relaxation. It has been around for thousands of years and our ancestors have benefited from it for centuries. In this section we would like to introduce you to a few meditation techniques with which you can successfully combat stress.
Scan your body
With this technique you combine the breathing techniques you learned in the last section with the ability to concentrate on individual parts of the body. Work from head to toe (or vice versa). Think about how the targeted body part feels at that moment. Does it hurt? Is it tensed or relaxed? It can help to tense individual muscle groups and then relax them again to loosen them up a little. By the end of this exercise your entire body should be relaxed.
Meditation with images
For this technique it does not matter if the images are only in your head or you are watching a relaxing video. It is only important that you concentrate completely on the images, breathe calmly and push aside disturbing thoughts over and over again. People who find it difficult to let go of their tormenting thoughts during meditation may find it easier to let go during meditation with pictures.
This technique also requires you to focus on your breathing. For this form of meditation, sit down comfortably, close your eyes and focus on the here and now. Explore all your senses. Do you hear anything? What is the scent of in your environment? Do you have a particular taste in your mouth? How does your body feel? Go through these questions one by one and keep directing your thoughts to the present moment. You should feel light afterwards.
Stress relief tips
Here are some other stress relief ideas for everyday life.
Before you go to bed, you should write a list of the most important tasks for tomorrow. It is a great relief to know that you can start the new day well prepared. Such a list will take you maybe 5 minutes to write and you can think about how you can best combine individual tasks and maybe even make them easier.
Choose healthy snacks
The more stressed you are, the more often you resort to unhealthy foods that make you lethargic and do more harm in the long run than they do for the moment. Apples, nuts or dark chocolate provide you with energy throughout the day and lift your spirits at the same time. Give it a try and snack a few small meals before you feel the need to eat something unhealthy. You will feel lighter overall and better cope with stress.
Wash your hands
Not only during the corona pandemic it is important to clean your hands thoroughly and extensively. Under stress your immune system is more susceptible to viruses and germs of all kinds. Washing your hands also has something soothing about it. Take your time and feel the water flowing over your skin and massage your hands gently. This way, going to the toilet every day becomes a small relaxation ritual.
Listen to relaxation music
No matter whether you want to meditate, relax or sleep, we are often distracted by surrounding sounds. During these activities, try to have relaxing music playing in the background. The quiet, unobtrusive sounds mask noise and contribute to your relaxation. This technique works best, of course, with noise-canceling headphones.
Put your smartphone aside
TVs, computers, mobile phones – all day long we are surrounded by technical devices. We use them to work, to keep in touch with our friends, to do research, to have fun. The versatility of these small devices becomes a disaster for our brain whenever we try to relax. Our brain can’t find the line between work and pleasure and thus associates our smartphone with stress. So what do we do to escape from stress? Right. Put it away. Not later than one hour before going to bed, you should switch your smartphone to silent mode and deal with more relaxing activities. Reading good book, for example.
Stress relief conclusion
Several techniques and methods are suitable for combating stress. Your task is to find those with which you can best get through everyday life. Take at least 20 minutes a day to test different methods and consciously reduce your stress. If you need more guidance, get our free meditation for relaxation e-book.