Before you grab that pint of Ben & Jerry's, pop a Xanax or hit the mall, take a few deep breaths and try one of the options below. Chances are "retail therapy" will only leave you more stressed, because according to this Washington Post article, "73% of Americans name money as the number one factor that affects their stress level." In fact, "54% of Americans are concerned about the level of stress in their everyday lives." It sounds like everyone could use a few pick-me-ups! The following options are free or low cost techniques you can start applying immediately:
Get Physical: 1. Take a walk and feel the sun on your face. 2. Practice yoga. 3. Run, bike, swim, dance- anything that makes you sweat. "Runner's High" is from a rush of oxytocin, a neurotransmitter that will improve your mood and act as a pain reliever.
Entice the Senses: 4. Burn an aromatherapy candle 5. Dab lavender or chamomile essential oils on your wrists 6. Drink soothing tea like chamomile. 7. Chew (sugar-free) gum. This has been connected with relieving cortisol, a stress hormone. 8. Enjoy a small piece of dark chocolate. 9. Sip a nutrition-filled green smoothie. The sweetness will be comforting while the nutrients will help keep your body on track.
Slow Down and Relax: 10. Take a bath with Epsom salt (Epsom salt with chamomile essential oil is my favorite!) 11. Meditate, even if it's as simple as closing your eyes and focusing on a few deep breaths. 12. Take a time out with a warm shower. 13. Close your eyes and focus on relaxing one muscle group at a time. 14. Take a short break from technology- namely your Smart Phone.
Connect With Others: 15. Call an old friend or family member. Talking to someone else can help you put things in perspective, laugh, reminisce about the past, or relieve stress just through venting. 16. Pet an animal. 17. Smile, even if it's forced. 18. Snuggle, kiss or simply hug a loved one to relieve stress hormones and increase positive feelings.
Other Options: 16. Write out your feelings. Burn them later if it'll help you let go. 20. For on-going relief, start a gratitude journal. Writing just a few things every day that you're thankful for has been proven to have lasting positive effects on the writer's happiness. 21. Put it in perspective. Make a list of immediate actions you can take and the things you can't change. 22. Find video clips on YouTube that make you laugh. 23. Sing loudly to your favorite tunes
What's your favorite way to immediately reduce stress? Share it in the comments below to help others!
A version of this post appeared first on MindBodyGreen. See all of my MBG posts here.