Lighten Up: 10 Fun Ways to De-Stress

Learn 10 Fun Ways to Help You Reduce Stress!

Do you ever feel like life is a race, full of high-stakes choices and precarious balancing acts, all underlined by the daily challenge of somehow cramming in everything you feel you need to do?

Too many people accept this fast-paced way of life as being “normal”, when in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Not only is chronic stress unpleasant, it’s been shown to negatively impact our health, leading to everything from insomnia to obesity, heart disease, hypertension, and gastrointestinal disorders. As such, if you regularly find your heart racing, your chest tightening, and your palms growing clammy, it’s time to take a breather and work a few stress-busting strategies into your day. The 10 fun, easy methods below provide an excellent place to get started:

1. Have a healthy snack.

There’s a reason that we eat for comfort: It works. According to Dr. Drew Ramsey, an assistant clinical professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and the author of The Happiness Diet, “The connection between the gut and brain is huge—called the ‘gut-brain axis’—and lots of interesting data supports the idea that the gut is a major mediator of the stress response. After all, stress is a brain and immune system mediated phenomena, and your gut is the largest organ in your immune system.”

To avoid the pitfalls of this habit and reap the rewards, practice mindful, healthy eating: At the beginning of eat day, plan out a series of brain-boosting snacks (such as a handful of almonds or half an avocado) to reach for when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

2. Take a music break.

Music is one of the most powerful anti-stress agents available to us; taking a short time-out to listen to your favorite tunes will slow your pulse and heart rate, lower your blood pressure, and decrease the levels of stress hormones circulating in your body.

3. Take a 10-minute walk.

Just ten minutes of walking has been shown to help clear one’s mind and provoke the release of–endorphins-  a powerful mood booster and anti-stress hormone.  If you can’t leave the room for a walk, try engaging in some form of movement, e.g. lifting light weights at your desk—any form of light exercise should help.

4. Try aromatherapy.

We all know that deep breathing can help to calm us down, but it can be difficult to become truly immersed in this rather mundane activity. To truly distract yourself from stress, spend a few minutes inhaling a relaxing scent (such as lavender), taking slow, full breaths in and out—you’ll be relaxed in no time.

5. Try tidying or organizing things around you.

Not only is this activity distracting, tidying up and getting organized provokes a positive feeling of accomplishment which helps to relax our minds and disperse the nervous energy that stress creates.

6. Try massage.

Even if you don’t have someone else around to give you a massage, learning how to effectively massage your own head and neck can have profound benefits, provoking the relaxation of tense muscles and the alleviation of pain and anxiety.

7. Watch a humorous video.

The wealth of online videos available today can easily provide us with the best medicine—laughter—without taking more than 3-5 minutes from our busy schedules. Whether it’s watching quirky cats or a brief comedy skit, injecting a bit of humor into your day is a sure-fire stress-buster, one which has been shown to immediately activate our bodies’ “relaxation response”.

8. Finger paint.

You don’t need to have access to an actual set of paints to engage in this wonderfully relaxing tactile activity—just pull out your smartphone or tablet, download one of the many free painting apps available, and get creative.

9. Try yoga on the go.

Yoga has become widely renowned for the way it can induce relaxation and foster emotional balance, and the good news is that it works anywhere—even in the office. Even simple poses, such as the seated back-bend (take a deep breath, reach up with your arms open wide, exhale while bending slightly from your upper back and chest, then release and repeat) can release an amazing amount of tension from the core of your body.

10. Read a few inspirational quotes.

When we’re stressed out, it can help immensely to take a step back and focus on our long-term goals and priorities.  Through motivating us to look at the “big picture”, inspirational quotes make the many small irritations that commonly cause stress look smaller by comparison, encouraging us to relax, breathe, and let them go. The next time you are stressed out, lighten-up with one or all ten stress-busters.

How do you relieve stress?  Share what works for you.


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Your partner in health and wellness,

Coach Cindy

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