DIY Relaxation: 18 Ways to De-Stress
Submitted by Labdoor.com
Stress is often seen as a negative effect on the body, but it is essential to life, as the “fight or flight” system is naturally part of our survival system. Still, stress can cause harm when it overwhelmingly impacts our health equilibrium. It is associated with higher levels of cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Accumulated unmanaged stress can lead to major physical and psychological illness, including depression, overeating, excessive sleep, and irritability. While it is impossible to avoid stress completely, it is possible to manage.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Get a massage.
Massage has been shown to be effective in reducing mental and physical stress. In one study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, massage helped lessen stress and pain in patients who have chronic pain. Another study in the Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing suggested that 15 minute massages helped reduce the psychological stress of their test subjects.
- Go for a walk.
Going for a walk can clear your mind and keep your body healthy. Walking helps increase your endorphins which can give you a euphoric feeling and reduces the cortisol levels. Simply being outside also helps reduce stress and helps increase memory and attention span.
- Stress relief with a pet.
Studies have shown that pet therapy helps reduce anxiety and stress for many people. One study showed that it helped students during exam times. Another study showed that patients experienced a 37% deduction in anxiety if they spend time with animals before their medical operations. Having an animal around distracts them from their worries. While dogs and cats are usually the choice of pet for stress relief, other animals can also help. Observing fish in an aquarium has been shown to reduce blood pressure.
- Drink tea.
Green tea is full of antioxidants that are beneficial for your health and can also help lower pressure. In one study, black tea helped lower cortisol and reduced stress after six weeks of drinking tea.
- Get proper sleep.
By having a restful and high quality sleep and undisruptive naps, one’s cortisol levels will decrease. One study with healthy young men has shown that taking proper naps throughout the day will lower one’s cortisol levels.
- Work out.
Hit the gym or go for a run. This allows your body and mind to focus on something that is healthy for your well-being. While it distracts you from the cause of your stress, it also increases your endorphins, the natural “feel good” hormones that are released when you exercise. The more aerobic your workout is, the more endorphins your body release.
By taking deep, slow breaths, your blood pressure and heart rate also slow down. This also allows you to relax and clear your mind. It has been shown to reduce anxiety and help with depression.
- Use guided visualizations.
One study shows that subjects reported less perceived and dyadic stress after using this stress managing tool. Guided visualization allows people to imagine and consciously think about certain issues and helps them get in touch with their intuition.
The scents of certain plants, such as lavender, can ease our stress and relax us. Some may even bring us positive memories or thoughts. Aromatherapy is often used with massages, meditations, and hot baths.
- Turn your phone off.
According to one study, work-related emails, as updated constantly through our smartphones, cause higher stress. By turning off your phone, you shut the external stress out and focus on yourself and your immediate surroundings.
Meditation has been used for thousands of years and is an inexpensive technique that allows you to clear your mind. Pairing it up with breathing exercises can further lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
- Enjoy a hot bath.
A hot bath can help relieve the tension in your muscles, promote blood circulation and calm the nervous system. Water can be infused with minerals and other products such as bath salts or oil for additional relaxation.
Yoga is an excellent weight and stress management tool that has been around for more than 5,000 years. It helps your balance and flexibility, and strengthens your core. It also helps with bronchitis, chronic pain, and some symptoms of menopause.
- Listen to music.
A study has shown that patients in post surgical recovery who listened to music had lower stress levels than those who did not. Find music that is soothing for you and tune out.
Going to a comedy show or watching a funny movie will help manage your stress. One study showed lower levels of the salivary endocrinological stress marker chromogranin A (CgA) in those who watched a humorous movie. These subjects also reported a feeling of being uplifted and fulfilled.
- Try a craft.
Finding a hobby and keep your hands busy will distract your mind from stressors. Studies have shown that doing a craft, especially for children and seniors, enhances relaxation while providing an outlet for artistic expression.
- Write down your thoughts.
Keeping a journal or diary of your thoughts and activities will serve to help you understand your feelings, organize your thoughts, and reflect on your choices. Your journal is also a place for you to let out emotions that you might not otherwise express.
- Avoid caffeine.
Try to avoid coffee, energy drinks, and other drinks that are loaded with caffeine, which increases the stress hormones catecholamines and cortisol, while increasing dopamine for a quick “feel good” response that will wear off quickly and make you feel low. Drink green tea instead.