Always Stressed? How to Find Relief in 60 Seconds or Less
Chronic stress can lead to a long list of health problems if left unchecked. Luckily, there are many simple meditation techniques, that can counter your stress response almost instantly. Whenever you feel the tension building up or a headache coming on, remember that stress relief is just a minute away.
What is Stress?
When faced with challenging and or dangerous situations, the body releases a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, to help deal with the stress. It’s also known as the “fight or flight” response because it increases your heart rate, raises your blood pressure and provides extra energy to help you respond, either by battling it out or running away. Once the threat passes, these physical effects fade.
Stress is not only caused by extreme events or outside forces though. The demands we place on ourselves — our jobs, our relationships, our finances — all contribute to stress. These are usually the kinds of stressors that cause chronic stress.
How Stress Affects Us
Feeling stressed is a natural part of being alive. In small doses, stress can boost alertness and energy, and make us more resourceful in facing challenges. Chronic stress, however, can hurt our health, relationships, and quality of life.
Prolonged stress can cause headaches, digestive issues, high blood pressure, and trouble sleeping. It makes you more vulnerable to viral infections. It can even increase the risk of stroke or heart attack. Stress can also lead to psychological problems, such as anxiety disorders and depression. A London-based study also found that people who suffer from chronic stress at work are at higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome.
10 Ways to Tackle Stress Fast:
You can’t always prevent stress, but here are some ways you can manage stress better and offset its negative effects quickly.
1. Meditate for one minute.
2. Breathe deeply.
The American Institute of Stress considers deep breathing the “best stress reduction technique” of all. Try a breather in the INSCAPE app or simply let your breath flow as deeply into your belly as possible, while counting steadily to five. Then, without pausing or holding your breath, let it flow out gently, again counting to five. Repeat.
3. Step into nature.
Even a short visit to a park or green space has positive effects on stress relief. Studies show that too much time in the city does the exact opposite.
4. Give yourself a hand massage.
Pressure point therapy helps to relieve stress and muscle tension (especially headaches). Use your thumb and index finger on one hand to squeeze the webbing between the thumb and index finger of your other hand. Press for 30 seconds and then do the same on your other side.
5. Listen to calming music.
Several studies have found that listening to classical music may help you recover from stress, decreasing blood pressure as a result. Binaural beats, ambient sounds or new-age music would have the same effect. Opt for whatever is most calming to you personally.
6. Do some progressive muscle relaxation.
Progressive muscle relaxation is a deep relaxation technique that is very effective in controlling stress and anxiety. Sit or lie down, then tense and relax one muscle group at a time, beginning with the lower extremities and ending with the face. Inhale during contractions and exhale during the release. Try Body Stress Release in the INSCAPE app.
7. Visualize calm.
Close your eyes and picture yourself in a peaceful environment, such as a sunny, tranquil beach with soft waves lapping at the shore. Imagine your toes digging into the cool sand and a light breeze rustling through the palm trees. Whatever you visualize, it will be most effective when you immerse yourself using all your senses: taste the salty air, feel the grit of the sand, see the striations of each cloud in the sky.
8. Inhale essential oils.
Lemon has calming and clarifying properties that help when you’re feeling run down or anxious. Lavender has a soothing effect on nerves and relieves nervous tension and emotional stress. Bergamot has uplifting capabilities that can leave you feeling more revitalized and optimistic. Dab some oil on your inner wrists, or better yet, use a diffuser.
9. Chew gum.
The act of chewing has long been used as a stress reliever by releasing tension through muscle contractions in the jaw. Indeed a study in the journal Stress and Health reported gum chewers were less likely to feel extreme stress both at work and in life. They also had lower blood pressure and cholesterol after chewing.
Humor has been shown to buffer stress and lessen its physical symptoms. The best kind of laughter is social, but if you can’t find a coworker to chuckle with, keep a funny clip on your phone for a quick laugh.
If you’ve tried self-help techniques and nothing seems to work, you may want to seek a mental health expert who can provide additional resources and tools. MentalHealth.gov is a good place to start looking for resources in your area or find relief if you are in crisis.