There are plenty of excellent stress guides out there. Some will offer spiritual tips, while others will give you practical advice. Still others offer nutrition and fitness ideas to mitigate stress. Stress comes in many forms – relationships, work, health, hormones, momentary dilemmas, and more – and there are just as many ways to tackle it. Here’s a list of helpful stress soothers that are so simple, they’re often forgotten. They’re not ground-breaking by any means, but they work! So, while these won’t resolve major conflicts or heal a tired body, they will give you a quick mental lift. And sometimes, that’s all you really need.
Being connected 24/7 isn’t really necessary. One of the simplest ways to restore a little serenity in the midst of a hectic week is to turn off the phone. Unplug your land line after dinner, too. You’d be surprised how simply turning off the ringer can bring instant calm.
9. Lose the alarm.
Try going to bed an hour earlier during stressful days (write down your worries first so you don’t toss and turn). You probably won’t need your alarm if you do this – you may even develop this into a healthy new habit! The alarm clock can be very stressful. A lot of us wake up and calculate how many more hours of sleep we have, or we wake up a bit too early and dread the sound we know is coming. So lose the alarm. If you have to use one, get the kind that plays soothing nature sounds or music.
8. Prank it out.
Laughter is an instant cure for stress. We all know this, but we often fail to take advantage of it. There’s no limit to how much fun you can have, and people don’t have enough! No one’s watching and waiting to criticize you for laughing too much (honest). So buy some water balloons. Short sheet the beds. Play a prank on the kids. Inject some innocent immaturity into your family life. It’s healthy.
7. A little dab will do.
Buy some spearmint oil. Whenever you’re feeling a little stressed, dab some on your temples and the back of your neck. No, this won’t alleviate the “joy” of that half-hour on the phone with automated customer service, but it’s a cheap, easy treat that feels and smells wonderful. We’re allowed to find little ways to feel good – and there’s no limit! If you would rather not be minty fresh, at least keep a candle in your favorite scent on hand for some effective aromatherapy. It smells better than coffee!
6. Keep quiet.
Though it’s generally healthy to get your feelings out, sometimes you’ll actually feel better if you just keep quiet. I’m not talking about giving the “silent treatment” when you’re angry. That’s not healthy. But sometimes, if something is bothering you, it’s wise not to react. Wait and act later if necessary. Often, quelling a knee-jerk reaction will actually boost your confidence and give you greater relief than if you’d immediately vented. Keep quiet or speak up? It does require trial and error – you’ll find the right balance. One helpful tip is to ask yourself if reacting in the moment will be of greater benefit than acting later.
5. Out and about? Be friendly.
Some days, it seems as if everyone has woken up on the wrong side of bed. To make it even worse, you’ve just been nabbed with a parking ticket and now the line at the bank is a mile long. Rather than add to everyone’s stress by commiserating, be friendly and cheerful. This will reduce others’ anxiety, but that’s not really the main purpose: you get the most benefit of all.
4. Alleviate someone else’s stress.
This is related to tip 5. If you notice a waitor seems despondent, leave a big tip. Bag your own groceries for the frazzled clerk. Make eye contact with everyone you meet as your run your errands. Alleviating the stress of others is the best way to alleviate your own.
3. Push the wall.
File this under “stupidly effective”. Here’s a nifty little body trick to release some pent-up stress: stand about three feet from a wall (you will have to adjust for your individual height). Reaching out with both arms, lean at an angle into the wall and press with all your might (your body should form a triangle with the wall and the floor). Keep your feet locked on the floor so your Achilles tendons get a really good stretch. The further you stretch and harder you press, the more tension you’ll release from your hamstrings. And did you know hamstrings are one of the first muscle groups to store tension?
2. Keep a humor journal.
Even though I’m a writer, I’m lousy about keeping a regular diary or journal. One thing I have committed to, however, is keeping a big, fat humor journal. I’ve been doing it for over 10 years, so it’s chock-full of laughs. From disastrous roommates to silly pranks to unforgettable quotes of friends to the “this will be funny someday but definitely not right now” incidents, my humor journal is my life’s record of all the best (and worst) bits. Anytime I’m feeling stressed, I read a few classics from my journal and can’t help but feel better. It’s gotten to the point where my friends will ask “is that going in the book?” whenever something funny comes out. When one of us is stressed, we’ll quip “well, at least it’s gonna be good for the book” and we instantly feel better.
An alternative is to keep a happy journal: anytime you have a good moment, even if it’s a great meal or a beautiful sunset, write it down. We think we’ll remember the happiest moments of our daily lives, but we often forget. Can you even remember what you had for dinner last week? Keep a record of the good stuff for days when you need a lift!
1. What’s your favorite easy stress-busting tip?
Tell us your simple, effective stress relief tricks!
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