Stress and anxiety are conditions most people today deal with daily, despite the fact that today’s advanced technology is supposed to make life easier. Too much exposure to stress is known to cause health problems ranging from depression and obesity to heart disease. While there’s no sure way to completely remove stress from your life, there are methods you can employ to help manage it. Here are 5 stress relief techniques to try.
Listening to music can have various different effects on the body. Soothing music tends to produce a calming effect. It induces the relaxation response by lowering the heart rate and blood pressure, as well as helping reduce stress hormone production.
Classical, Indian and Native American music are particularly suitable for helping a listener relax. Recordings of nature sounds are also effective. However, everyone is unique in their musical tastes, so it’s best to use whatever type of music works best for you.
One of the oldest techniques for relaxation is meditation. The practice likely dates back thousands of years, as there are many carved depictions of ancient holy men sitting in postures that suggest they were meditating.
There are many ways to meditate, but the simplest is to simply focus on your breathing. Find a relaxed position to sit in, while still sitting up straight, so you won’t fall asleep. Inhale slowly and steadily through your nose. Breathe in from your abdomen, rather than from your chest. Then exhale steadily, until empty of air.
Focus deliberately on each breath, rather than on whatever is going on around you. If your focus drifts, simply return it to your breathing, as soon as you are aware of the lapse in attention. With time, you’ll get better at focusing inward.
Like meditation, Yoga has similar ancient roots and has long been an effective way to relieve stress. While there are many different styles of yoga, they all share the same purpose of joining the mind and body. Studies have shown that practicing yoga can be at least as effective at treating depression and anxiety as many of today’s prescription drugs.
While it’s unknown exactly how yoga works, it likely lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol levels. It may also help increase production of a neurotransmitter called gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is negatively impacted by mood disorders.
If you think coloring is just for children, think again. Psychologist Carl Jung was using coloring as a relaxation technique for adults in the early 20th Century. Recent trends have seen adult coloring books pop up in bookstores across the country.
The reason coloring works is primarily because it allows the brain to focus intently on something other than one’s problems. It also engages the imagination in such a way that it often reminds people of their childhood, which is usually the least stressful period of one’s life.
If you spend lots of time using your smartphone, you might not be surprised to know that there are apps designed for just about every purpose, including coloring. Coloring Book for Me & Mandala is one such app that allows you to color anywhere you can use your phone.
If you’ve ever had a pet, you probably realize how effective they are at turning a bad mood into a good one. Studies have shown that they’re remarkably good at helping reduce their owners’ stress levels.
Researchers aren’t entirely sure why pets have this effect on people, but it’s believed to have something to do with the release of oxytocin, a chemical produced by the brain that enhances mood. Additionally, pets also provide loyal companionship, while keeping their owners active and giving them a sense of purpose. These are all qualities known to reduce anxiety.
The techniques listed above are known to be effective, regardless of what type of stress you’re under. The key is to make them part of your daily life, rather than waiting until the situation gets worse. The sooner you put them into action, the sooner you can get back to enjoying all the good things life has to offer.