April is Stress Awareness Month: an event that has taken place every year since 1992 to raise awareness of the modern stress epidemic, its causes and its cures. This year, we’re marking it with a list of handy tips to help you relieve your stress and anxiety on a daily basis.
The majority of adults will experience stress and anxiety fairly regularly these days, and it’s a problem that’s only growing worse as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2018, it was reported that 70% of US adults felt stress or anxiety every day. Meanwhile, 74% of UK adults reported having felt overwhelmed or unable to cope with their stress at some stage over the previous year.
Do remember that there is no one-size-fits-all option for stress relief. Not all suggestions will work for every individual. Similarly, not all stress-relief methods will work in all situations – we’re not all in a position to drop everything and go for a run at any time of the day. This is why it’s so important to have an awareness of a variety of stress-relief.
techniques. This will allow you to hone in on the method most appropriate to your current situation.
Stress is part of life, whether it takes the form of minor challenges or major crises. But there are things that you can do to improve your responses to these stress triggers, even if you aren’t able to control the circumstances causing your stress. Taking control of your own emotional responses is vital as stress can take a toll on your well-being if it becomes overwhelming or lasts a long time.
The following approaches could have a big impact on your physical and emotional wellbeing. For more information on stress and stress management, check out The Essential Guide to Stress from Need2Know Books.
1. Get Active
One of the most important things you can do to combat stress is to get plenty of exercise. Mental stress, however contradictory it may seem, can be relieved by putting physical stress on your body through exercise.
Exercising regularly is the best way to make the most of these benefits. Anxiety is generally more common in those who don’t exercise than in those who exercise regularly. This could be for a number of reasons:
- Self-Esteem. Mental wellbeing can be improved by the increased sense of confidence in the body’s abilities.
- Try to find an exercise routine or activity you enjoy, such as walking, dancing, rock climbing or yoga.
- Stress hormones. Over time, exercise gradually lowers your body’s levels of stress hormones such as cortisol. Natural painkillers and mood-improvers known as endorphins are also released.
When it comes to stress relief, it can be particularly helpful to focus on activities that involve repetitive movements in large muscle groups – such as jogging and swimming.
2. Short-Term Stress Relievers
It’s important to have some stress reduction tools that will help you lower your stress instantly, whether you’re waiting for a job interview or dealing with an unpleasant customer at work. The ideal short term strategy:
- Take very little practice to master.
- Cost nothing.
- Provide immediate relief.
- Can be used at any location.
Both lasting stress management benefits and short-term stress relief have been reported by those who practice meditation. There are lots of different types of meditation out there, each with its own benefits.
Relaxing with guided imagery is sometimes described as taking a brief holiday inside your head. Many people will do this by picturing themselves in their “happy place” whether that’s a beach, a country house or a mountain top. Many beginners to guided imagery find it helpful to use a recording in which the narrator describes a walk through a peaceful scene, rather than taking up the practice with no guidance.
Once you’ve used a recording a few times, you may choose to make up your own images instead. With your eyes closed, picture a peaceful scene and walk yourself through it. Allow yourself to feel as though you’re really there by thinking about the sensory experiences you’d engage in. Return to the present moment after a few minutes by simply opening your eyes.
3. Dietary Supplements
Anxiety and stress relief are promoted by a number of supplements. Some of the most popular supplements for stress include…
- Omega-3 fatty acids. One study showed that medical students who received omega-3 supplements experienced a 20% reduction in anxiety symptoms.
- This hormone occurs naturally in the body (though sometimes not in high enough amounts) and is responsible for regulating your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
- The amino acid glycine is believed to increase your body’s resistance to stress by calming the brain and encouraging a good night’s rest.
- Green tea. Many health benefits have been connected with the polyphenol antioxidants in green tea. It may lower stress and anxiety by increasing serotonin levels.
- Rhodiola rosea. This herb grows in Russia and Asia and is believed to increase stress resistance by stimulating your body’s stress response system.
If you have a medical condition, it’s best to consult your doctor before taking supplements as some can interact with medications or have other side effects.
4. Splash Out on a Nice Candle
Feelings of stress and anxiety can sometimes be reduced through the use of essential oils or scented candles. Certain scents are believed to be especially soothing, including…
- Ylang Ylang.
- Orange or orange blossom.
- Lavender Essential Oil.
Read All About It
- Preventive Medicine: Regular exercise, anxiety, depression and personality: A population-based study.
- Effects of yoga on depression and anxiety of women.
- Medical Science Monitor: Formulations of dietary supplements and herbal extracts for relaxation and anxiolytic action: Relarian.
- Effect of yoga practice on levels of inflammatory markers after moderate and strenuous exercise.
- Brain, Behaviour & Immunity: Omega-3 supplementation lowers inflammation and anxiety in medical students: A randomized controlled trial.