8 Inexpensive Ways to Reduce Stress

18 June 2020

BY TERESA CHRISTIAN, PSYD

Stress is an expected part of daily life, so it’s important to learn healthy ways to manage it. Carrying too much stress can be physically, mentally and emotionally harmful. 

By engaging in healthy daily stress management, we not only decrease current symptoms of stress, but it can also teach us how to better respond to stress in the future. Below are eight free (or very inexpensive!) ways to cut stress in your life.

Laugh It Off

We’ve all heard the phrase that laughter is the best medicine. What a lot of people don’t realize is that laughing can provide both short-term and long-term positive effects for our body and our minds. Have you ever made a small joke during a stressful situation to find that it alleviated the stress that both you and others around you were feeling?

Laughing helps to slow down your stress reaction cycle, and also soothes tension by aiding muscle relaxation. The next time you are feeling burdened by stress or anxiety, take five minutes to do something that makes you laugh.

Walk It Out

Physical activity doesn’t always have to be going to the gym or going for a long run. Regular physical activity is important for your physical health, and can have numerous psychological benefits for relieving tension as well. Taking a short walk during the day or stretching at your desk can help reset your mood and improve concentration.

Take a Soothing Soak

Soaking up some suds in a hot bath is an effective way to slow down your thoughts and relax your body. From the Roman baths to Japanese bathing culture, the soothing and healing power of water is a tradition that has existed for thousands of years in different cultures. Treat yourself to a bath with a relaxing scented candle, bath oil or bubbles and take advantage of this time tested stress relief technique.

Breathe In, Breathe Out

Yes, breathing is an inevitable part of life but are you breathing for stress management? Deep abdominal breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and promotes a state of calmness. 

Rather than mentally willing yourself to relax, a few deep breaths will automatically send your brain and body a message that it’s time to slow down. Practice this style of breathing at your desk, while lying in bed or when you’re cooking dinner.

Sing in the Shower

Music is a healthy method of managing stress and can positively impact our health in so many ways. Try adding music into your daily routine to reduce stress throughout your day. 

Do you find yourself feeling tense on your way into work, or when you’re stuck in traffic? Turn up a playlist filled with some of your favorite songs and sing along! Singing allows your body relax and create a sense of happiness while reducing physical stress.

Pick Up the Phone

Some stressful situations are unavoidable but reaching out for support and guidance from a friend or trusted loved one will almost always make you feel better and less alone. 

Next time you’re feeling overloaded try taking a break and calling a friend. They may not be able to fix what’s bothering you, but they can be a source of support during a difficult time or a distraction to help you take a break from a high intensity situation.

Just Say No

This one seems straightforward, but it’s very hard for most people to do! A common cause of stress is being overworked and overwhelmed. Learning to prioritize requests as well as setting limits and boundaries is a helpful stress and time management skill however this is also a healthy way to improve self-esteem.

Stay Positive

Unfortunately, there are some aspects of our life that stress is unavoidable. Despite our best efforts to plan ahead, there will always be work deadlines, traffic jams, and bills to pay on time. Learning to accept the inevitable and utilizing positive thinking can help decrease unnecessary stress induced by negative thinking. 

Practice making a concerted effort to look at things differently or experiment with challenging negative thinking to shift your perspective in a more positive direction.

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