Written By Franklin V on Monday, April 25, 2011 | 7:09 PM
Everyone has those days. Your email inbox is stuffed with high-priority messages about school assignments and work responsibilities. Your phone is blowing up with texts, calls and alerts reminding you of things you have to do. You need some stress relief... of the low-tech variety. Check out these tips.
1. Hang Out
Social support has been shown to be very effective in combating stress. Spending time with friends or family members can help take your mind off things that may be bringing you down. It can also help increase feelings of belonging, self-worth and security. When you do have to get back to your responsibilities, you'll be more ready to take them on.
Exercise is a great way to leave stress behind. Getting in a workout can reduce cortisol, a stress-producing hormone. Endorphins, chemicals that induce feelings of physical pleasure, also surge through the body. It doesn't matter what kind of exercise you choose - any physical activity can help sweat out stress.
3. Practice Deep Breathing
In the midst of a busy day, it's not always possible to drop everything to hang out or go for a jog. Deep breathing, though, is a relaxation technique you can do at virtually any time. Performing a series of deep breaths, inhaling from deep within your diaphragm, brings more oxygen-rich blood to your brain and reduces your heart rate.
4. Have a Laugh
Laughter has been shown to reduce stress-inducing chemicals like epinephrine and dopamine. It also stimulates circulation and promotes muscle relaxation. Laughter can even improve immune system function and relieve pain. In times of stress, try to get a fix of the funny.
5. Pursue a Passion
Engaging in hobbies or activities you enjoy can help bring you to a 'flow' state in which you're able to forget about stressors - at least for a period of time. The feelings of satisfaction that follow these episodes can also provide emotional strength that will be helpful in meeting your daily responsibilities.
6. Express Yourself
Sometimes we're dealing with things that can feel overwhelming. Family difficulties, life changes and other major personal events can affect the attitude we bring to our daily responsibilities and make us feel even more entrenched in stress. Writing or talking about these feelings with someone can be a good idea.
7. Eat Well
Stress often results from an accumulation of factors, including diet. When we don't get the nutrients we need, our bodies lack the energy it needs to properly function. Not getting enough food, or eating the wrong kinds, can lead to irritability, headaches and fatigue - conditions that only amplify feelings of stress.
8. Get Rest
Just as we need proper food nutrients to stay balanced, we also need plenty of rest. You've probably recognized that stress can be especially intense when you're overworked and under-slept. The brain and body need downtime - be sure to get adequate rest to let yours function at an optimal level.
9. Help Others
Studies show that people who make a habit of helping others experience feelings of happiness and fulfillment that carry over into other areas of their lives. If it seems like to you don't have time to volunteer or engage in service, try to find meaningful ways to help people in your life. The effort will be rewarded ten-fold.
10. Have Realistic Expectations
Stress levels are often influenced by our expectations - and how we might be failing to meet them. It's great to aim for high standards of excellence, but remember that no one is perfect. Be proud of successes and work on challenges, but avoid feeling too bad about goals you have yet to reach. You're working on them.