It’s fair to say we live pretty fast paced lives today. Even when we’re ‘switched off’ from work or chores, we take this as the perfect opportunity to take in more information via social media, because wHy noT?
Some days I stress over things where the stress is warranted. Other days (thirty minutes ago to be precise) I feel stressed because I can’t find my moisturiser. While some causes for stress are valid and others not so much, the release of stress will affect our body in the same way.
Contrary to what your IG feed tells you, you don’t need to go to a secluded beach in the Whitsundays to unwind and de-stress. Here are ten easy ways you can de-stress for free.
Deep breathing is the most powerful tool we have to instantly reduce our stress levels. And it’s all thanks to the effect it has on our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). According to Dr Libby Weaver, while our sympathetic nervous system (SNS) controls our fight-or-flight response, our PNS “helps us to rest, restore, have great digestion and it plays a major role in fertility”.
Most of us probably tend to breathe with short, shallow breaths during the day. This breathing pattern activates our SNS. When we breathe deeply, we are telling our body we are safe, as our body could never breathe in this way if our life was truly in danger (if we needed to activate our SNS). When we choose to breathe diaphragmatically (taking deep breaths from our tummy) our body instantly feels calmer.
Who doesn’t love some endorphins? Sure, exercise is great for the body, but it’s also great for the mind. Moving our bodies releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin. These chemicals improve our mood.
You can choose any form of exercise to reap its stress-relieving benefits. It doesn’t matter what type of movement you choose – you just need to enjoy it. Maybe hitting a sweaty spin class is your favourite way to move. Maybe you prefer walking, dancing or Pilates. There’s no right or wrong.
Practising Yoga is another wonderful way to lower our stress levels. And there are plenty of YouTube videos out there led by Yoga instructors for free!
We de-stress with Yoga because continued deep breathing is central to the practice. In a Yoga session, we are frequently reminded to breathe intentionally, deeply, and continuously. Plus, the light exercise offers further stress relieving benefits.
Interestingly, in Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) sufferers, research has shown Yoga to be an effective treatment to reduce symptoms.
There is something so intrinsically therapeutic about stepping outside. It makes sense. As a species, it was once our natural habitat. When I step outside, no matter how stressed I have been that day, I feel an instant sense of relief. In fact, more and more research continues to show that spending time in nature helps improve our mental health.
Both stress and caffeine elevate our cortisol levels. As a result, some people experience negative health ramifications when they consume high levels of caffeine. They can experience high cortisol levels, and therefore high stress levels.
However, this may not be the case for you. Your morning coffee might be a ritual that actually makes you feel a whole lot better. Next time you drink a coffee, just take note if you feel elevated stress levels shortly after, and consider whether reducing your caffeine intake could help you.
Revisit Your Childhood Hobbies
When we’re kids, we’ve got enough hobbies to count on both hands. Then, we get into adulthood, and suddenly it takes a little longer to remember what our hobbies actually are. We prioritise them less, forgetting how much we used to enjoy our hobbies. Some of us view hobbies as a thing of the past, something we did when we were younger, when we had more time.
If you’ve lost touch with your childhood hobbies, revisit them! If you loved reading, painting, drawing; try to set aside just ten minutes on the weekend to do it again.
Listen to a Light Podcast
No, not a complex educational podcast here. They have their time and place. When you are trying to de-stress, now is the time to go easy on yourself. Listen to content for pure enjoyment to help reduce your stress. Maybe a try comedy podcast or a light pop culture podcast – but try to avoid the educational ones here if you want to relax.
Who doesn’t feel better after taking a shower? Literally washing off the stresses of the day is a great way to calm your body. The hot steam and water can help relax our muscles and soothe built up tension. Plus, the aromatherapy from your body wash doesn’t hurt.
Watch Your Comfort Food Show
What’s your comfort food show? The one you can always go back to, the one you can rely on to give you a laugh, and not throw any surprises your way? What show can lift your mood within minutes of watching? For me, it’s Friends or The Office. Whatever your comfort food show is, go back and watch that next time you’re feeling stressed.
When in doubt, hug it out. Research shows that giving someone a hug helps reduce stress. It also releases the “cuddle hormone” oxytocin, which is linked with reduced stress and increased happiness.
There are heaps of ways you can de-stress that don’t involve a pricey spa trip or a luxe holiday. Actioning these tips can have a significant impact on reducing our stress levels.
What are your go-to tips and tricks to de-stress? Tell me below!
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