Stress is a big part of day-to-day life for many of us and it can be pretty much impossible to avoid it completely. You may not be able to change this but you can switch up the way that you respond to stress. Make these 5 stress busters a key part of your life!
Breathing is essential for life but that doesn’t always mean that we breathe in the right way. Lots of us breathe in a shallow way from the chest, rather than taking deeper breaths from the diaphragm. Doing the latter is super important for helping you to feel calmer and less anxious.
Check in with breathing at regular intervals during the day. Chances are, you’ll find that it’s on the shallow side and this is a great opportunity to take five minutes to encourage some deeper breathing. Sit down with a hand on your belly and slowly breathe in through your nose. Ideally, you’ll feel the breath moving from your abdomen and up through your body. For the “out” breath, breathe out slowly through your mouth. An effective pattern can be to breathe in for a count of four, hold the breath for a count of seven and exhale for a count of eight. Don’t worry if you struggle with this in the early days, especially if you’re super used to shallow breathing. If you are struggling to practice conscious breathing, take a couple of minutes before to practice concise breathing for a couple of minutes before each meal.
Have a good laugh
How often do you have a good laugh? Laughter releases “happiness” hormones such as dopamine and oxytocin, dials down your stress response and lowers stress hormones. In other words, it’s a great stress buster! It can have positive effects on your physical health too. According to studies, it can boost your immunity, increase your circulation, relieve tense muscles and reduce pain. Need an instant pick-me-up? Watch a funny video on YouTube or dive into an episode of one of your favorite comedy shows. Even crazy cat videos on YouTube count! Bonus points if you can surround yourself with positive people who make you laugh or start finding ways to poke fun at situations that would otherwise cause you tons of stress and anxiety.
Make time for “me” time
When life gets super busy, spending time on yourself can be one of the first things to fall down the priority list. Making time for “me” time is a super important self-care tool for busting stress and stopping it from getting on top of you. It’s also a great way to build more resilience.
Even if you can’t manage to fit in “me” time every single day, try setting aside 20 minutes at least a couple of times each week.
A few ideas for how to spend “me” time:
- Do 5 minutes stretching in the mornings and incorporate some breathing exercises too. This is a super effective way of starting the day on a calm and less anxious note.
- Do a gentle workout – even walking is a smart choice for getting more active and clearing your mind. Yoga and Pilates can be great activities for strengthening your mind-body connection and reducing stress.
- Give yourself a facial massage with essential oils.
- Sit down and really savor a cup of tea. Herbal teas can be calming but even black tea works really. This contains phytonutrients that can reduce your body’s levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.
- Get lost in a good book or immerse yourself in an issue of one of your favorite magazines.
- If you enjoy cooking or baking, practice one of your favorite recipes. This can be super therapeutic for an easy way to bust stress. Personally I love slicing and chopping vegetables, I find it therapeutic enjoying that I am being productive and relaxing all at the same time.
- Connecting with the earth – gardening, walking in nature or along a beach barefoot.
Exercise isn’t always top of the wish list when stress strikes but it can be a brilliant stress buster. You’ve probably heard of a “runner’s high” and this is because exercise encourages your body to release feel good endorphins that boost your mood. You don’t need to run to get this benefit – any kind of exercise has the same type of effect!
Exercise also gives you the perfect opportunity to focus solely on how your body feels as you move. Think of it as a super active form of meditation! In studies, exercise has shown some potential for helping people to cope better with stress and may even be a very useful tool for reducing your risk of anxiety and depression.
USE THE POWER OF ESSENTIAL OILS
Relaxing scents include lavender, bergamot, ylang-ylang, rose, jasmine, clary sage or sandalwood. These can be super effective for short term bursts of stress. If you need scents that will help you to deal with long term stress or anxiety, try vanilla or vetiver. These scents are known for their anxiety relieving benefits.
There are plenty of options for using essential oils. You can use a room diffuser or inhale the scent direct from the bottle or on a cotton wool ball. Some other options? Add them a super relaxing, scented aromatherapy bath or apply them topically to your skin (with a carrier oil, as lots of essential oils shouldn’t be used topically without one).