6 Soothing Ways to Ease Stress
Feeling stressed out? Learn ways to calm the stress in your life.
Feeling stressed out? Most Americans do.
Not all stress is bad. A certain amount of stress enables executives to perform at their peak.But too much stress can be harmful. Stress is linked to such chronic conditions such as heart disease and depression.
The trick is to manage or control stress to keep it within healthy limits. If your stress meter is soaring, learn to relax. Here are some soothing ways to handle the stress in your life.
You've heard the expression, "take a breather"? Sometimes just five minutes of deep breathing is enough to ban stress.
Most people take shallow breaths that fill only part of the lungs. Deep breathing gets more oxygen into the lungs and can help calm the brain. Try these steps:
- Sit or lie with one hand on your belly.
- Breathe in through your nose, filling your lungs. Focus on making the hand on your belly rise.
- Breathe out through your mouth, trying to empty your lungs as much as you can. The hand on your belly should move in as your muscles tighten.
- Continue these deep, slow breaths, in through your nose, out through your mouth, making your belly rise and fall.
This simple but powerful exercise can be done almost anywhere. It can be combined with meditation or muscle relaxation.
2. Relax your muscles
Progressive muscle relaxation is another simple way to ease stress. Practicing it can help you become aware of when you are holding stress in your body. Relaxing your muscles can help your mind relax.
- Lie down in a quiet place. Take a few minutes to breathe slowly and deeply.
- When you feel relaxed, start with your right foot. Squeeze the muscles as tightly as you can. Hold while you count to 10.
- Relax your right foot. Take a few deep breaths.
- Next, squeeze the muscles in your left foot while you count to 10.
- Relax and breathe.
- Slowly work your way up your body (legs, belly, back, chest, arms, neck, face), squeezing and relaxing each group of muscles.
3. Say yes to yoga
Yoga is a system of exercises (called asanas) for gaining bodily or mental control and well-being. The philosophy is that the breath, the mind and the body are so closely linked that whatever you do to one will affect the other. In addition to easing stress, yoga can improve strength, balance and flexibility.
Yoga is gentle form of exercise that is safe for most people when it's practiced correctly. Consult a trained yoga teacher. Make sure you ask your doctor before you start any new activity.
4. Try tai chi
Tai chi is a series of postures that flow into one another through connecting transition moves. These slow, graceful and precise body movements are said to improve body awareness and enhance strength and coordination. At the same time, they are supposed to help the practitioner achieve inner peace. Like yoga, it is designed to enhance both physical and emotional well-being.
Tai chi is a low-impact aerobic activity, so you can chill out and burn some calories at the same time. Another advantage to tai chi is its low risk of injury.
Take a tai chi class or buy a book or instructional video. Once you learn how to do tai chi, you can practice almost anywhere.
Meditation is a centuries-old practice spiritual practice that is also a powerful stress-buster. Here, you learn to relax while focusing on a word, a sound or your own breathing. It can have a deeply calming effect.
There are many different types of meditation. One type is mindfulness meditation. You can practice mindfulness while sitting in a quiet place or while walking. The key is to keep bringing your focus back to your breathing or your steps. When distractions come into your mind, observe them without judging and let them go. The technique is simple, but achieving the desired result takes practice.
6. Get a massage
In massage therapy, the hands (or sometimes forearms, elbows and feet) are used to manipulate the soft body tissues. A good massage is not only relaxing, but it may also have some real healing benefits. Some studies have shown that the kneading and pressing of muscles slows the heart rate, lowers blood pressure, improves blood circulation, relaxes muscles and helps reduce stress levels.
If you can't fit in or afford a visit to a spa, ask your partner or friend for a neck, back or foot rub. Trading massages can be a relaxing way to reconnect after a stressful day.