Life can be both stressful and busy.
I have been trying to put together a list of quick stress relievers because I wasn’t pleased with the ones I found … ones which assumed that people had all kinds of time and could go off for 1-hour massages each week, 3 week vacations, and all sorts of activities.
So … this is what I’ve compiled so far.
Quick Stress Relief
1. Go outside. Fresh air and nature have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety.
• Get some sun. Vitamin D is a powerful mood booster.
• Walk in the wind and rain. Feel the force of nature.
• Find something beautiful.
• Stop and smell the roses or admire the camellias.
• Look closely at the trees or rocks.
• Take a deep breath of fresh air.
• If you sit a lot, stand up once an hour.
• Keep exercise bands and/or light weights next to your favourite chair and use when you watch television.
• Stretch to relax your body and mind.
• Try progressive muscle relaxation to feel relaxed from head to toe.
• Take a walk during your lunch break.
• Walk as part of your commute.
• Set up exercise equipment at home to be able to get a bit of exercise.
3. Get more sleep.
• Dim the lights about an hour before bed.
• Put on quiet music.
• Treat yourself to nice new pjs.
• Wear a sleep mask in bed.
• Wear a headband to hold the sleepmask in place and to cover your ears.
• Wear earplugs.
• Consider sleeping in individual beds if you live with a significant other.
• Use a hot water bottle to relax.
• Use fresh lavender or lavender oil.
4. Read, Write, Talk, Listen.
• Read a book. Even just a little bit on weekends before bed. Books can be a good escape. Short stories are great if you’re especially busy.
• Talk it out. Sharing your stress with a therapist or loved one can be very therapeutic.
• Try guided meditations.
• Write it down! Some people like to keep a journal in general and/or a gratitude journal.
• List 3-5 things you are grateful for each day.
• Listen to music while commuting or working. The right playlist can boost mood and increase energy.
• Look at pictures of cats and other cute animals or great scenery. Set up the wallpaper on your computer to scroll through inspiring photos. Put up some pictures at home or in your office.
• Do a Crossword Puzzle, Sudoku or jigsaw puzzle. Brain games that require lots of concentration can help take our mind off whatever’s worrying us and give us a sense of accomplishment.
• Try something creative like a colouring book, painting, knitting.
5. Prepare and Simplify.
• One thing at a time.
• Write it down so you don’t forget. Use calendars.
• List of to do and list of done. List of things done shows how much you have accomplished.
• Stop procrastinating. It’ll just make you more stressed later.
• Simplify and declutter – a little bit at a time.
• Clean something – even just a small area.
• Get someone else to do it if you can. Order groceries online and have them delivered. Hire someone to mow the lawn, clean the house, do the windows, etc.
• Prepare for morning the night before.
• Avoid tight fitting and scratchy clothes.
• Rub your feet over a golf ball or other textured ball. You can get an impromptu relaxing foot massage by rubbing your feet back and forth over a golf ball.
• Drip cold water on your wrists. When stress hits, head for the bathroom and drop some cold water on your wrists and behind your earlobes. There are major arteries right underneath the skin, so cooling these areas can help calm the whole body. Good for calming hot flashes too.
• Do a few stretching exercises.
• Take a break from computers and social media for an hour or a day or two. Give your eyes a rest.
• Try some deep-breathing and progressive relaxation exercises throughout your day. Even just for 30 seconds.
• Try box breathing: Inhale to the count of 4, hold your breath to the count of 4, exhale to the count of 4, hold your breath to the count of 4. Repeat 2 or 3 times.
• Be Alone. Not everyone can get to a cabin the woods or empty beach (as nice as that would be!), but five minutes of quiet alone time can help you collect your thoughts and clear your head.
• Try a diffuser and different scents/oils. Aromatherapy can be an effective stress-reliever.
• Have a hot bath or if there isn’t time for that, a hot shower.
7. Food & drink.
• Drink green tea. It contains an amino acid that can reduce stress.
• Drink your favourite teas, but don’t drink caffeine after 5 pm. A flavoured chamomile is relaxing.
• Eat some antioxidant-rich dark chocolate to lower stress hormones in your body. Honey and mangoes are also supposed to be stress-relieving foods.
• Get more omega-3’s from sources like salmon and avocado. They can reduce stress and anxiety for people who like them.
• Prior to going to bed, sip 4 oz of tart cherry juice to enhance sleep. It is naturally rich in melatonin. Pistachios are also a source of melatonin.
• Bake something nice … like lava cake which takes about 30 min to make in total.
8. Pamper yourself: get a haircut, dye your hair, do your nails, try a new makeup.
9. Do something habitual in a different way, brush your hair with your less dominant hair, drive a different way to work and notice things that are different. Look at things from a different perspective.
10. Pet or play with an animal.
11. Surprise someone with a kind word or gesture.
12. Hug someone. Studies show physical intimacy is a great coping mechanism.
13. Laugh. Read cartoons or a funny story. Put on a funny movie or sitcom.
14. Stand up for yourself. Sometimes we need to put our foot down and say, “I’m doing this for me.”