“My mind just went blank in the examination hall”, “I had a blackout after conducting the most awaited event I organised”. While stress is an unavoidable part of life, it still doesn’t mean that we cannot overcome it. Excessive untreated stress may lead to potentially serious physical and mental health issues. Each one of us has the ability to reduce the impact of stress as it is happening and stay in control when the pressure builds up. To begin with, identifying the source of the stressor could help combat stress effectively.
Seven simple ways to relieve stress:
1. Deep Breathing and Progressive Relaxation: Relaxation through deep breathing counters the effects of stress by slowing the heart rate and lowering the blood pressure. An advice “take a deep breath” may sound like a cliche, but it really works with stress. While shallow breathing causes stress, deep breathing oxygenates your blood, helps centre your body, and clears your mind.
2. Regular Exercises : All forms of exercise including yoga and walking can ease depression, anxiety and stress by helping the brain release, the ’feel good’ hormones endorphins. When you feel overwhelmed with worries or have trouble concentrating, go for a brisk walk along the bushes. You will also get some exclusive time for yourself to gather your thoughts.
3. Take a power nap : Take a quick break from a busy office schedule or a chaotic household by just lowering your eyelids and taking a nap for awhile. It’s the easiest way to regain calmness and stay focussed as it refreshes your mind too.
4. Share your concerns : “A problem shared is a problem halved”. When something is really bothering you, sharing your feelings with your pal or your partner can really help. A warm hug is a panacea for all stressful conditions. Be more expressive about your feelings rather than let them simmer within only to burst out in unhealthy ways.
5. Laughter as a stress buster: Laughter releases endorphins that improve mood and decrease the levels of stress, also causing the release of the hormone adrenaline. Laughing is used to trick your nervous system into making you happy, be it watching a comedy show or chatting with someone who can make you smile; it does work as a stress buster.
6. Catharsis : Just letting your emotions out and putting them on paper can also make them seem less intimidating. A release of pent-up emotions to a non-judgemental being can help lighten the burden of guilt and shame without hurting your ego.
7. Practice mindfulness: Though many of the above approaches provide short-term stress relief, practising mindfulness, as a part of one’s lifestyle could be effective in relieving stress in the long run. The concept of “mindfulness” is a large part of meditative and somatic approaches to mental health, and has become popular in modern Psychotherapy. Slow down and take a moment to focus on only one behaviour, with awareness. For instance, notice how the air feels on your face while you are walking and how your feet feel while hitting the ground or enjoy the texture and taste of each bite of food.