Use these stress relief hacks and tools in the heat of the moment.
Could you use a few stress relief hacks right now? You are not alone! We are a stressed out nation.
- In a recent national poll, 1 in 4 Americans say they are stressed out.
- According to another study conducted by the American Psychological Association, average stress levels in the U.S. rose from 4.9 in 2014 to 5.1 on a 10-point stress scale in 2015.
- The number of adults who say they experience “extreme stress” has also increased.
- About 50 percent of adults say they experienced a major stressful event in the past year.
Impact of stress on our health
Stress is a natural and, to some extent, necessary response. Our stress response helps us react when something potentially harmful or threatening is happening. There is even some research that moderate stress can actually be good for us, and can improve our memory and alertness.
However, too much stress can be toxic, and can take a toll on our bodies and our support system. As soon as stress registers, our bodies release stress hormones that send signals to our respiratory systems to breathe faster. This distributes oxygen and blood quickly to our core, giving us the strength and energy we need to survive a stressful event.
However, over, time, making our hearts and bodies work too hard for too long to combat stress leads to:
- Increased risk of stroke and heart attack
- Lowered immunity
- Stomach and digestion trouble
- High blood pressure
- Reproductive issues
- And more.
Effects of stress on friends and family
In a way, stress is contagious.
Over time, chronic stress can also have a large impact on the emotional health of families. Children who report being stressed and experiencing stress at home are more likely to be overweight and feel sad.
It can also lead to poor work relations, strained relationships as you distance yourself from others and more marital arguments.
8 Stress Relief Hacks You Can Use Right Now
There is an epidemic of stress in the U.S. If you are struggling, try some of these stress relief hacks today and let us know how it went in the comments section below.
Tap into your support system
It’s sometimes tempting to clam up when we are not feeling our best. But studies show that 60 percent of people who report having a lot of stress say they find relief from routinely spending time with friends and family. Reach out to and connect with a loved one, even if it’s just on a short phone call or a quick walk outside together if you live nearby.
Try guided visualization
Studies show that simply visualizing a calm or peaceful scene can help ease our minds. Find a quiet spot, close your eyes, and picture a place that is special to you or brings you a sense of peace.
There is arguably nothing more impactful on our overall health and wellness than exercise. Simply taking a 15-minute walk can lower blood pressure immediately. Don’t have a lot of time? Stretch at your desk or do some at-home yoga before bedtime.
It sounds so simple – and it is! But it can also be incredibly effective at helping us manage stress in the moment.
When we encounter a stressful event, our breathing increases rapidly. By consciously slowing it down, we are sending a signal to our parasympathetic nervous system that it doesn’t have to work so hard and, in fact, there is no real emergency.
- Take a slow breath in through your nose. Hold it. Then, release it slowly through your mouth.
- Practice “alternate nostril breathing.” Close your right nostril with you right thumb. Inhale. Open your right nostril and close your left nostril with your right index finger. Release the breath through your right nostril.
Bonus points if you can practice these breathing exercises outside!
Eat more anti-inflammatory food
Chronic stress alters gene activity of immune cells as they are entering the bloodstream so they are ready to fight infection or trauma. Over time, when there is no real infection or trauma to fight, this leads to inflammation. And a growing body of research shows that inflammation is what is at the root of most diseases, including Cancer, Alzheimer’s and more. Swap processed foods for anti-inflammatory foods, such as:
- whole grains
- lean protein
Get a hug
We know tactical support and hugs are essential to the healthy growth and development of infants. But what about adults? It turns out that hugs reduce blood pressure in adults, too. Rather than turning to a quick sugar fix to try to lift your spirits, see if a hug from a loved one helps.
Practice progressive muscle relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is a technique in which we control the state of our muscle tension. Studies show that it can be an incredibly effective tool for us to use to combat stress, anxiety and even insomnia.
Starting with your eyes, tense and release muscles in your head, including your jaw, ears, eyebrows, etc. Continue down through your shoulders, hands and fingers, until you reach your legs, feet and toes.
Spend time with your pet
There are many reasons why being with animals can be therapeutic. Petting animals releases endorphins, which lower our heart rates and lift our moods. In fact, some studies show that just being around an animal (like a fish in an aquarium, for instance), reduces our blood pressure.
Investing just five minutes in spending time with an animal can quiet your mind and help you focus throughout the day.
Need a moment of wellness?
Filling our bodies with plenty of clean, pure water is essential to our mental and physical well-being. Join us over at Healthy Human where you can read daily health hacks and make water your essential health and stress-reducing companion. #takeitwithu.
Have other stress relief hacks?
Did you give these stress relief hacks a try? Do you have others to share? Let us know in the comments below.