Persistent and excessive stress in our daily lives can be extremely harmful to our physical and mental health. Many people consult psychologists for stress alleviating techniques, who in turn are also humans and experience anxiety just like us. It is important to relieve stress for achieving our professional and personal goals as stress have a higher impact on it.
So, here we have collected ten methods used and recommended by professionals to help relieve stress. Read on:
1. Spend time enjoying your hobbies
Take time out from your hectic everyday routines to enjoy your hobbies and interests. Psychotherapist Amy Przeworski recommends having a period of time when you can do anything you want. Read a book, paint or even exercise.
Do whatever you like and which soothe your mind. Spend at least an hour every day doing so. Make sure that during this time your mind remains free from any stress, burdens and pessimistic thoughts. Do not strain your mind with responsibilities you have to fulfill, just relax and enjoy this time to relieve stress.
2. Perform any of your daily tasks, mindfully
Researchers at Florida State University wanted to find out whether certain mundane activities of daily life, like dish-washing, could relieve stress. Using a group of 51 students, they discovered that: “…mindful dishwashers—those who focused on the smell of the soap, the warmth of the water, the feel of the dishes—reported a decrease in nervousness by 27 percent and an increase in mental inspiration by 25 percent”.
Any repetitive activity, such as your daily household chores, would have similar stress-reducing effect if done mindfully.
3. Help other people
It is true that support and help from your loved ones can help decrease stress levels. But even the act of helping can help reduce your anxiety. Psychologists have found out that supporting others, even in little ways such as opening the door for them is great for instilling a sense of well-being in you and reducing stress.
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4. Maintain a diary
John Duffy, a clinical psychologist, and writer of a book on the upbringing of teenagers recommend writing to relieve stress levels. He takes notes of his thoughts, daily life occurrences and relationships with other people.
Writing gives structure to everything which comes to our minds. It enables us to view and analyze things from different perspectives clearly. This creative process of penning down our thoughts and feelings is very helpful in clearing our minds and reducing tension and stress.
5. Practice muscle tightening exercises
Kevin Chapman, an American psychotherapist, recommends using the method of progressive muscle relaxation that was developed in 1920. The motivation behind this exercise is that after intense tension comes intense relaxation.
To perform this exercise, simply tighten your muscles for 10 seconds and then focus on the feeling of relaxation for 20 seconds. There are 200 such muscle relaxation techniques that will cater to the different muscle groups in our bodies. Make sure to perform these relaxation exercises for every muscle group to obtain the best stress relieving results.
6. Try always reacting positively
You always react positively to positive situations but try to do the same in case of negative scenarios. If this is a tough job, simply avoid reacting at all. This will help in relieving stress and tension. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal encourages in her book, ‘The Upside of Stress,’ to view a stressful situation as a challenge rather than a problem. Preliminary research also shows that people who can develop this mindset will suffer fewer negative health effects from stressful life events.
Moreover, you can also learn to embrace stressful situations and learn from them. Psychologist Susan Krauss Whitbourne recommends not fighting stress. She has a special way to deal with stressful situations. She repeats a mantra, “I can’t change the situation, but I can change my reaction.”
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7. Indulge in charity
The act of giving is known to increase happiness and a sense of well-being. It inculcates a feeling of having tried to make a positive impact in someone’s lives. This can also help in relieving stress levels.
This being said, make sure to give when you have the time and money to do so. Otherwise, this act can also negatively affect your physical and mental health and well-being.
8. Try cooking a new dish
Cooking can help relieve stress and anxiety for many people. It is also recommended by Jeffrey Sumber, who is a psychotherapist, writer, and teacher. Find out a new recipe, go to a store and carefully pick out the ingredients. Prepare your dish and the accompanying sidelines or sauces. Slowly eat it, savoring all the tastes and aromas.
9. Spend time outside
A large body of researchers says that spending time in natural environments yields many psychological benefits. Walking outside, surrounded by trees and greenery lowers stress chemicals in our bodies and reduces anxiety. Take a morning jog, go for a walk in a park and practice yoga and meditation outside. Even simply looking out your window at the trees in your backyard has a calming effect on your mind which can relieve stress level.
10. Control your flow of thoughts
Many times, thoughts keep nagging and pestering us leading to stress and anxiety. Martin Seligman, a psychologist, recommends an easy way that will help clear your mind.
Clap your hands and scream, “Stop! I’ll think about it later!”
You can even pinch yourself when negative or worrying thoughts start to hound you. This will stop the flow of thoughts that cause stress. Focus on other positive activities.
These methods to relieve stress are recommended by psychologists and therapists and are backed by research. But at the end of the say, many things will work for some people and not for others. So, it is essential to find your own stress releasing activity. Make sure not to be fooled by false stress relievers that are only temporary and harmful in the long run. These include habits like smoking, drugs, over-drinking, and even over-eating. So, from now on find something that will help distract your mind from problems and worries and reduce stress.