The month of April is Stress Awareness Month.
Reducing stress is an important issue for our emotional wellbeing and overall health.
The more we share ideas with each other on how to reduce stress the better off we will be.
Here are my top 10 favorite healthy ways to reduce stress.
Yes, I do meditate although not as often as I should. I used to practice meditation daily. Anymore I only take time for meditation about three times per week.
Meditation is not as complex as it may seem. There is no wrong way to do it. You do not have to sit with your legs crossed. Meditation can be done at your desk in an office, outside in a lawn chair, anywhere!
Long steady breaths in through your nose, out through your mouth. Do not think about not thinking about things. You will think of stuff, it’s in our nature. When a thought enters, acknowledge it quickly and resolve to come back to it later. Then try to clear your mind again.
If music helps you relax for meditation you can play it. Some people like to listen to nature sounds. You can burn incense or a candle if you wish. Again, there is no wrong way to do it.
Only start out in meditation for about 5 to 10 minutes until you get better at it. The last thing we want is for something that should be relaxing to stress you out.
Hey, meditation may not be for you and that is okay. There are many other things you can do to reduce stress such as number 2…
Getting good exercise not only will reduce stress in the moment, but will reduce your stress levels overall.
I admit I probably put more work into avoiding exercise than it would take to just do it!
Thinking about how bad my health is getting for lack of good exercise causes the very stress that doing so would reduce!
I am at fault in this and need to get more workouts in each week. Now that the weather is nicer I know I will.
Exercise is different for everyone. Each of us has our own interests and tolerance levels. Just getting up out of your chair, or off the sofa helps.
I love golfing but I know that does not get my heart rate up. To get my heart rate up I prefer cycling or a treadmill.
Something else that I enjoy is kickboxing.
Whatever you enjoy, get out more and do it more often.
3. Let It Out
Have a good cry! Vent, talk to friends, scream if you want to.
Crying is healthy!
Holding emotions in is not.
By letting out those emotions we also release our bodies of toxins that are damaging too.
It is okay to cry, it is also okay to scream.
Just try to do it in a way that will release negative energy and not cause more, such as screaming at someone.
I know many people who feel better after a good cry.
Of course, I can’t leave this out.
In some cases, our stress builds up to a point where there is no way for us to manage it alone.
This can turn stress into depression, anxiety and other serious illnesses.
Never hesitate to get therapy or seek counseling services.
The stigma of getting help is long behind us.
These days having a therapist is trendy!
Most insurance also covers some of the cost.
There are also many great online therapists making it easy to get help right from the privacy of your home.
5. Take a Walk
Getting out into nature is a huge stress reducer for me.
Hearing the sounds of nature, the birds chirping, and the sun on my face always makes me happier.
I talk about this more in a previous article I wrote called Decompress Right Now In 5 Easy Steps.
Walking alone or with a friend are both options.
Some people prefer to take walks on their own so they can work through thoughts.
Others want to chat about things while with someone.
Both ways have value.
Make a deal with yourself. Before you return from your walk, leave your troubles behind you before entering your door.
6. Cuddle an Animal!
In case you missed it – please read my article on 10 Ways Pets Make Us Happy.
Pets are one of the main things that can help me through a funk.
My pets give back more than I could ever give them.
Animals are used for therapy these days.
If you live in an apartment, in most states you can claim your dog, or cat is a therapy pet and not have to pay a pet deposit or extra rent!
Be sure to check with the laws in your city of course.
7. Reduce Caffeine Intake
I dislike this one too but it is true.
Caffeine heightens the heart rate and can cause a sense of urgency.
Too much caffeine can create stress and if you already deal with stress, it causes it to be more intense.
I will never stop drinking coffee unless my doctor requires me to but I only drink one cup per day.
Okay, sometimes two but that is an extra special treat when I do.
8. Listen to Music
This is a tricky one.
Some music makes me feel energized, alive, and very happy.
Other music can make me seriously sad.
Clearly, we want to listen to music that picks us up.
Sometimes music that picks us up can also raise our blood pressure and incite stress reactions.
Just make sure that when you want to reduce stress, you listen to music that is helpful for that.
9. Eat a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet has great benefits in all aspects of your life but it can also reduce stress!
My favorite stress reducing foods are blueberries, spinach salads, pistachios, wild caught salmon, and avocados!
These superfoods also help reduce anxiety levels.
Foods that contain a high level of B vitamins help our nerves, brain cells, and feelings of anxiety too.
The mind-body connection is a strong one.
We need to keep everything in balance so if we want to feel well, we need to eat well.
This is my favorite on the list.
I love to laugh and I love making others laugh even more.
Laughter can reduce stress more than you may imagine.
Laughing increase endorphins that are released into your brain.
Endorphins make you happier!
Watch a funny movie or stand-up comedy show.
Have a pillow fight with a loved one.
Tickle someone or be tickled!
Call up your wackiest friend and see what they are up to.
Overall keep in mind there are some really great ways to reduce stress.
We are all different so some things work better for everyone.
Give them all a try and see what works for you.
I bet you have some great ideas on how to relieve stress as well.
I would love to hear from you in the comments with other healthy ways to reduce stress.