Stress Relief Techniques

Did you know that a survey by the American Psychological Association found that over 20% of Americans live with extreme stress? More than 60% said stress is damaging their physical and mental health.

Always be sure to check with your health care provider before beginning any activity plan or increasing your activity.

It always helps to ask:

  • What activities are right for me?
  • How much should I do each day?
  • How many days a week?

It's also important to ask him or her what your target heart rate is to help determine what exercise intensity is appropriate for you.

There’s no clear-cut way to eliminate stress—but you can get a better handle on it. There are many ways, both short and long term, that can help. It's important to try a variety of techniques to see which works best for you in different situations. Try these ideas and see if they work for you.

  • Try creating a journal or diary. If restless thoughts keep you up at night, have a journal or writing pad by your nightstand. Writing down what makes you feel stressed may give you perspective and can help ease your mind.
  • Managing your time can help. Try writing a to-do list for yourself and decide which tasks are most important. Got a big project? Feel your stress level rising? Break it down into smaller tasks and start checking them off. This can help you get more done in your day—with less stress.
  • Family members, friends, or a counselor can help. They can give you love, support, and advice. Sometimes talking about your concerns or giving yourself some “down time” to share with friends can ease your stress.
  • Find time to be physically active. For many people, it can help relax tense muscles and provide time to think. Activity is a way to release all that stored-up energy in your body. Try to find time for a healthy activity. Some people aim for 30 minutes a day, but go with whatever may work for you.
  • Don’t be so hard on yourself. You may be expecting too much from yourself, which can add to your stress level.
  • A new hobby can help. Gardening, woodworking, an art or music class, or other fun activities can give you a welcome break, even if you just do it once a week.
  • Everyone needs a break. 10 to 20 minutes of time for yourself can help you feel less stressed. Put down your phone, step away from your computer, disconnect from the stressors.
  • Engage your senses. Stress is a chemical response within your body, so using the body's senses can interrupt the response and lessen it.
    • Sights
      • Keep pictures of your favorite people and place them where you can see them
    • Sound
      • Make a CD or upload music to your smart phone. Listen to your favorite music, relaxing nature sounds, or whatever calms you
    • Smell
      • Green apple – can reduce headache pain
      • Lavender – may reduce anxiety
      • Coconut – may soothe your response to stress
    • Touch
      • Wear comfortable clothing
      • Keep a "worry stone" or a piece of something soft in your pocket to rub and roll in your hand
      • Give yourself a neck or hand massage
    • Taste
      • Indulge in a carb break – carbohydrates release serotonin, which is the body's "feel good" chemical
      • Dark chocolate – research shows dark chocolate reduces the cortisol (a hormone associated with stress) levels in the body—just don't overdo it as chocolate is calorie-heavy
      • Have a cup of tea – any type of caffeinated tea contains theanine and caffeine, which may improve focus and attention

When you’re under stress, remember: you’re not alone. And some of these small suggestions may help.

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