Written by: Olivia Bricen, Vera Health blogger
Stress: the six-letter word that U.S. adults know all too well. According to Healthline, 70% of Americans feel stress or anxiety every day! These days, it seems like everyone is wondering how to be less stressed. However, when it comes to stress relief advice, there is a lot of noise out there, and sometimes, figuring out how to be less stressed can make you even more anxious! How do you know what’s going to work? What if you don’t have time for a mindfulness practice? Who can you trust for guidance?
If you want to know how to be less stressed and don’t know where to begin, close your eyes and take a deep breath, because there are plenty of easy methods you can try (that actually work). Take a look at 10 of my favorites that will have you saying goodbye to stress and hello to peace. Are you feeling better yet?
How to Be Less Stressed: 10 Healthy Ways to Ease Your Mind
I know when I’m stressed, the thought of adding more obligations to my life sends me into a frenzy. That’s why I love these 10 simple ways to stress less. They’re easy, don’t take up much time, and leave me feeling so much more at ease. Let’s dive in!
1. Laugh it off.
I’m a firm believer that laughter is the best medicine, and I’m not the only one. Even science shows that laughing is scientifically proven to reduce stress. Sometimes, the best thing you can do during a trying time is to find comedic relief in your situation. It can be easy to fixate on negative thoughts, worries, and problems. However, a good fit of laughter can be a quick solution to ground you, help you get out of your head, and shift your focus to something positive.
What makes you laugh the hardest? Is it watching your favorite comedian, goofing off with friends, or maybe cracking up over your hilarious pet? Laughter heals the soul, so get out and do those things as frequently as possible to replace stress with joy.
2. Take a yoga class.
As a fellow yogi, I experience the stress-relieving benefits of yoga on a daily basis. There are many ways to practice yoga. Restorative classes that focus on deep breathing and stretching are great for stress relief. If you’re looking for more of a workout, strength building flows, like hot yoga, Vinyasa, and Ashtanga, can release stress while strengthening your body.
No matter what form of yoga you try, your practice will always include:
- Breath work
Mayo Clinic experts explain that yoga is a mind-body practice that helps people find peace and strength in both the mind and body. Through breathing techniques, strength building from postures, and meditation components, yoga has endless health benefits, including stress reduction.
3. Try guided imagery.
Guided imagery is an excellent mindfulness tool that shifts your focus to a highly detailed scene, usually in nature, that stimulates all of your senses. Guided imagery is typically facilitated by another person who guides you through the experience and into a relaxed state.
For example, maybe you imagine yourself on a beautiful island, pressing your toes into the sand, gazing into sparkling water. Perhaps you’re taking a calming stroll through a crisp forest, breathing in the scent of pine. Ahh…
To try guided imagery, you can check out videos online or work with a professional talk therapist. If you’re a creative, imaginative person, you could also try using your imagination to drift into a peaceful setting.
4. Get artsy.
Sometimes, the key to alleviating stress is to distract your mind and focus on something new. What could be a better way to do that than creating art? Starting a new craft project, taking a pottery class with a friend, or painting a scene are all great ways to relieve stress. Making art requires your undivided attention, so there’s no room for stress when you’re busy making a masterpiece!
5. Spend time with pets.
If you have pets, you know how much happiness they can bring to your life. When I come home from a stressful day to my smiling, tail-wagging puppy, I instantly feel comforted and loved. Studies show that pet owners tend to be happier and healthier, so no matter what curveballs life throws your way, your pet is always there for you.
If you don’t have pets, you can still spend time with animals. Volunteering at an animal shelter is a rewarding way to give and receive love (in the form of slobbery kisses). Also, coming from a Goldendoodle dog mom, your friends with pets probably wouldn’t mind if you took over fur baby duties for a day or two!
6. Get a massage.
This one may be a bit more time consuming, but getting a massage is a fantastic way to relieve stress. Many people carry stress and tension in the neck and shoulders – and may not realize it. This tension can stem from poor posture, sitting at a computer desk all day, and of course, being stressed. Massage therapy can treat muscle tension, pain, and stress, so schedule a self-care day to get some much-deserved R&R.
7. Try aromatherapy.
Do you have a favorite scent? If so, how does it make you feel? It turns out that aromatherapy is linked to stress reduction, so if you think your love of peppermint, lavender, or citrus helps you let go of stress, you’re right.
Scents can have a powerful impact on your body because they directly affect your nervous system. To try aromatherapy, I recommend using an essential oil diffuser with your favorite essential oils at home or in your workspace for convenient, effective stress relief.
8. Go outside.
Harvard Health experts suggest that spending just 20 minutes in nature can lower your cortisol levels. They also explain that the time of day you go outside and the setting you’re in doesn’t necessarily affect stress reduction, but getting outside period is what matters.
Taking 20 minutes out of your day to connect with nature isn’t a big-time commitment. So, if you’re someone who tends to skip their lunch breaks, maybe reconsider. Plus, think about how much more productive and motivated you’ll be after a quick, 20-minute break with mother nature.
9. Write it down.
Journaling is a tried and true stress reliever and a great healthy habit to add to your daily routine. Writing down your worries, thoughts, and experiences can help you feel more in control of your situation, help you analyze your problems, and offer relief as you release negativity.
By keeping a journal over time, you can also start to identify your thought and behavior patterns to become more aware of what bothers you. Being able to pinpoint your stressors enhances self-awareness and can help you learn how to respond to stressful situations less reactively.
Another excellent journaling technique is jotting down a few things that you’re grateful for each day. Having a gratitude practice can be very simple, and focusing on the good things in your life is a quick way to train your brain to think more positively.
10. Vent less.
This one may seem counterintuitive since bottling up your thoughts and emotions is never healthy. However, venting too frequently can cause you to dwell on negativity, resulting in spiked stress and a tanked mood.
Start taking note of how you feel after a long vent session. Venting to someone who validates your feelings can feel good, but if you’re hashing out your issues for long periods of time, and too often, you may notice your stress actually rise. Instead, try healthier coping skills, like the ones listed above, to alleviate your stress levels.
How Can You Tell If You’re Stressed?
It’s not always easy to know when you’re stressed, but your body has a way of telling you when too much is too much. Here are some signs and symptoms of high stress:
- Your skin is breaking out.
- You’re having headaches.
- You’re getting sick more than usual (stress lowers immunity).
- You’re tired and don’t have much energy
- You’re having trouble sleeping
- You’re having digestive problems.
- You have an increased or decreased appetite.
- You’re depressed.
- Your heartbeat is faster than usual.
If you regularly experience these symptoms or you’re starting to notice them, stress could be the culprit. Stress can wreak havoc on the body, so it’s best to check in with yourself and gauge your stress levels regularly. Thankfully, stress can be temporary, and there are a lot of ways to lower it, like the methods above.
Remember, what works for some people may not be right for others. If you try some of these techniques and don’t notice results, just move on to another one. Stress relief isn’t a competition, and it’s always best to do what works for you. Are you going to try any of these easy ways to stress less? Let me know in the comments below!