I don't know about you, but I can tell when I'm stressed even when things aren't very hectic—my shoulders stiffen up and fuse with my ears, my digestion becomes messed up, and, according to my partner and kids,, I become charming to be around. Stress manifests itself differently for different individuals, but it's typically some variation of your brain and body rebelling against everything you're attempting to control.
What can we do to reduce tension, mainly if we're cooped up inside? Because, not to add to your stress, both chronic and acute stress can negatively affect our health and encourage us to participate in risky escapist behaviors.
When we think about the body's stress, it's the actual fuel for the fight-or-flight response. It is useful when we need to jump into gear to lift an automobile off a young child or run from a horror movie monster holding an ax. It's only when our brain firmly believes we're in danger when we aren't that stress begins to manifest itself in various physical and mental disorders. Add anxiety—fear and worry about what could happen next—and our stress levels skyrocket.
The best stress-relieving exercise depends on what you're going through at the time. Is your skin crawling out from under you, or are your thoughts racing? Are you in bodily discomfort or overwhelmed? It's critical to have a toolbox of different strategies ready to go when you recognize you're overwhelmed.
1. Perform a brief workout
If your worry makes you feel restless or like your heart is racing quicker than usual, short bursts of exercise are ideal. A burst of activity, whether 20 jumping jacks, ten push-ups or sit-ups, or 30 seconds of running in place, will get your heart rate up. Even if brief, it will activate several neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, that improve your overall mood.
2. Participate in a tactile stress-relieving activity
Getting out of your thoughts and into your senses (in this example, touch) may help you reconnect with the present moment. It draws you back into your body, breaking bubble wrap, sifting your change jar for bank cash, or making homemade slime with the kids. You might also attempt this fast workout. Ask yourself, what is one thing I can smell, taste, touch, and so on. It's an excellent grounding method to engage all of your senses.
3. Treat yourself to a massage
You can work out the stress in your muscles yourself if no one else is willing or capable of doing so. Sensory receptors in our skin give instructions to our brain, suggesting that it's okay to relax. It also helps you become more aware of where in your body you're stiff, so you can actively relax in those places. The massive ropy muscle at the front of your neck, your shoulders, the hinge of your jaw, and pressure points in the palm of your hand are all ideal places to start.
4. Focus your mind on an issue
If the tension is more cerebral than physical, give yourself a particular job, such as sorting your shoes or performing a word puzzle, and you find your thoughts looping over themselves. When you're anxious, your brain may be telling you that you have an issue to solve, so it keeps spinning. Now is a fantastic opportunity to use your thoughts. You'll feel calmer and more equipped to deal with what's genuinely bothering you if you give it a task to focus on.
5. Dance like no one is watching
Putting on your favorite music and letting it free is beneficial exercise and a well-known stress reducer. It also stimulates the intellect and inspires feelings of creativity. Dancing to music from a joyful time and location in your life might help you forget about your worries by triggering pleasant memories. One caveat: Not everyone enjoys dancing alone, and that's perfectly fine. Some individuals become anxious when forced to dance, so do what feels good to you.
6. Taking a bath
Run a bath and get comfortable. Changing the body temperature slows down the entire sensory system—like it's restarting a computer with all these windows open, performing too much processing. Turning it off and on again will assist in getting unstuck. If desired, add in some more soothing sensory stimulators, such as aromatic soap or relaxing music.
7. Attempt knitting
Assuming you enjoy creating (some people are overwhelmed just thinking about it! ), there's evidence that clicking your needles may be meditative and relaxing. In a study of women with anxiety and eating disorders, knitting was also found to make most women with anxiety and eating disorders feel less concerned and agitated than women with anxiety and eating disorders. Check out these We Are Knitters DIY lesson videos selling starter kits if you're a novice.
8. Go ahead and bake your tension away!
Baking hits so many boxes for stress-relief:
It may be a sensory experience (smushing the dough, smelling baked goods, tasting them).
It can be a project that involves preparation, attention, and awareness, all of which stimulate your brain.
It can be enjoyable if you enjoy it.
Good Housekeeping's Chief Food Director, Kate Merker, adores this excellent blueberry sweet roll dish, but if you've had your fill of sweetness, try a healthy pizza recipe instead. It's cozy, and you can put anything on pizza dough. Kids like helping me form the dough, and they enjoy seeing me swirl it in the air. And what if you're worried that no one in your house eats the same thing? Everyone may choose to choose their topping.
9. Make yourself stretch
To get the advantages of this ancient discipline, you don't even need a yoga mat, let alone be physically flexible. There is a lot of study on yoga's involvement in stress reduction, and simply taking just 10 minutes to breathe and stretch in whatever way that feels comfortable to you may be immensely relaxing. These apps are a terrific way to get into yoga without leaving the house.
10. Meditate, or maybe breathe deeply.
It is another well-researched stress-relieving technique that many people are afraid of. Still, it is pretty simple and very effective if you try it, even for two minutes. Concentrate on breathing instead of cleansing your mind. In studies, slow breathing has been proven to have soothing damage to the central nervous and circulatory systems, and belly breathing, in particular, may help with focus, mood, and cortisol levels. Try one of the many beautiful apps with guided meditations, sit for a minute or two, and take a deep breath from your diaphragm.
11. Have some sex
Either alone or with someone who does not, at the absolute least, stress you out: According to an Israeli study, sex is a stress reliever for couples in happy relationships. Another study looked at cortisol levels in partners' saliva and discovered that those with sex had lower concentrations, "suggesting a buffering impact of closeness" on anxiety and an improved mood overall. Masturbation, when done for orgasm, is a tactile skill that enables you to focus and reduces physiological tension; doing it for orgasm generates dopamine and endorphins, all of which may help you relax.
12. Go on a cleaning frenzy
Apart from fewer visits from icky vermin, cleaning the inside of your pantry or getting into the seat cushions with a vacuum attachment has multiple stress-relieving benefits. It's a project that requires some planning and some physical activity, which can relieve anxiety and likely result in a sense of accomplishment that lifts your mood. And doing it consciously might help you relax even more: one research found that telling people to keep softly focused on what they were doing. At the same time, washing dishes increased the impact (although being mindful while you do almost any activity may show similar benefits.
13. Use gradual muscular relaxation techniques (PMR)
PMR has been shown in studies to help lower anxiety and relax breathing. Start with your toes and work your way up to the crown of your head, tightening, holding, and then releasing each muscle in your body one at a time. Slowly and deliberately, and don't forget about your facial muscles. Listening to someone else lead you through the activity may be more soothing. You can record audio, video, and scripts and then play them back to yourself at this URL.
You don't need any artistic ability just to let your pen run wild on the page, or even more accessible, pick up an adult coloring book. Anything that gets you out of your thoughts, if you love it, maybe a stress relief. The stakes are pleasantly minimal if you're not concerned about how fantastic the drawing is.
15. Getting absorbed in a tale
While it may be difficult for some individuals to get into a good book when they're anxious, bingeing on an engaging podcast or TV series that transports you away from your daily life might be beneficial. Mindfully attending to an objective is a terrific anchor, whether a podcast or a very foolish series. In other words, the goal isn't only to divert yourself but to actively choose to focus your attention elsewhere. The mind believes that if I keep thinking and thinking, I'll solve the problem and get out of it and that anchoring it somewhere else will halt this stress reaction.