We live in a busy culture – people are constantly moving, and it always seems like there’s something that needs to be done. With all the calendar reminders and ever-growing to-do lists, it’s easy to become stressed. And just to add on to the stress, you’ve also probably heard about all the negative effects of stress – quicker aging, poor sleep, headaches, hormonal changes – the list goes on and on. Fortunately, there are several simple, easy ways that you can decrease stress in your life. And trust me – You have the time for them. Here are some of my favorite ways to decompress when I’m under pressure.
1 – Breathe
You’d be surprised how easy it is to forget to breathe. When stressed, it’s common for people to actually hold their breath without realizing it. But when you make a conscious effort to breathe deeply and slowly, it actually signals your brain to calm down.
One of my favorite breathing exercises is an exercise I learned in my years of vocal lessons – here’s how to do it.
- Sit in a comfortable position, preferably on a flat surface, with your back straight and flat. Roll your shoulders back to help relax them.
- Breathe in through your nose quietly until your lungs feel entirely full. Be careful not to raise your shoulders while breathing in.
- Hold your breath for 4 counts.
- Exhale slowly for 4 counts, making a “hissing” noise by putting the tip of your tongue against the top of your mouth.
- After 4 counts, exhale with your mouth open, exhaling until you have completely emptied your lungs.
2 – Stretch
When you are stressed, your blood flow actually decreases, which is what causes those knots and tight muscles you feel after a long, hard day. Stretching helps increase your circulation, which helps your muscles to loosen up. Here are some of my favorite stretches.
3 – Meditate
Meditation is a great way to help calm your mind. As you focus on what you’re meditating on, all of the thoughts constantly buzzing in your mind begin to go quiet. This usually pairs very well with breathing exercises!
An easy way to meditate is to think of a simple, positive phrase, like “I am loved”. Close your eyes and just repeat it in your mind. Really let it start to hit you.
4 – Take a walk
In the past when I’ve felt anxious, I’ve taken walks. Typically they are pretty short – sometimes I’ll literally just walk up and down a block by my apartment – but it seriously helps. The fresh air always feels so good, and the movement really helps me to regain focus and clarity, especially when I’ve been sitting at the computer for most of the day.
5 – Talk to someone
It’s amazing what a good old-fashioned conversation can do for your stress. I always find that when I talk to somebody about how stressed I am, something about hearing myself say it out loud helps me to release the stress. Plus, connection with others can really keep stress from getting the best of us, according to Kelly Miller Ph.D.
You can talk to a friend, family member, or even me! If you feel like having a conversation about your stress, just reach out. Someone is ready to listen!
If you try any of these methods, let me know how it goes! Or if you’re interested in having a conversation with me about your health, just reach out. I’m only an email or phone call away.