Stress can be a sneaky little rascal, creeping up on you when you least expect it – at work, at home, or when you’re out and about. It’s sometimes hard to know what to do when it strikes, so we’re filling your toolbox with ten tools you can pull out whenever you need a break.
Try to incorporate some of these tips every day and you’ll see huge results, or dip in and use them when you need immediate stress relief.
Also read: Tips for Moving Past Negativity
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This one sounds almost too simple. We breathe all day on our own, right? But especially when we’re stressed, our breath can become shallow and shorter than we’d like. So breathe long and steady – in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Do a set of ten to start! That extra boost of oxygen can help reduce tension and relieve stress.
Any form of exercise is good for de-stressing. If you can get to an exercise class or run outdoors, great, but if you can’t, no problem. Even some simple stretches like head rolls, shoulder shrugs or a downward dog or two can get your blood pumping and help the brain release feel-good chemicals, all without leaving your desk.
Research from the Black Dog Institute into mental health and exercise found that even one hour of exercise a week could help prevent up to 12% of future cases of depression, so not only will it help in the moment, you’ll build future resilience.
3. Get outside
Fresh air really does work wonders. A quick walk around the block can help clear your head and get your mind back on track. Spending time in nature is great – eat your lunch in the park during your lunch break instead of at your desk and you’ll come back to work refreshed and recharged!
4. Tune in
… to your body, that is. A quick ten second scan of your body can help you spot the sections of your body that feel stiff and tight. You can do this sitting or standing (or lying down!) – start at your head and work your way down to your toes. Then work at contracting and releasing each section of your body.
Fire up that Youtube and check out your favourite comedian, or take advantage of the millions of funny viral videos online. Cute puppies or kittens your thing? Or children saying the darndest things? Whatever makes you chuckle, go for it.
Sure, soothing music or white noise apps can help you relax, but don’t count out the value of a good ol’ music-cranked-up-super-loud sing along. This works in the privacy of your own home, but you’re somewhere (like work) that may not appreciate your singing, pop your headphones and lip sync. Beyonce medley, anyone?
7. Ditch the screens
Simply putting your phone down or getting away from your computer screen can calm you down. Over stimulation can fray your nerves, so make sure you take breaks if you work at your computer all day, and get offline at least an hour before you hit the hay to ensure a good night’s rest.
8. Make a cup of tea
If you’re stressed, make yourself a cup of herbal tea, like chamomile or peppermint (avoid caffeine which could make you more stressed). The simple ritual of boiling the kettle and preparing tea can help keep you in the present moment, and help you nurture yourself.
9. Get ‘appy’
Using your phone isn’t always a bad thing. Download a meditation app and take some time out. Apps like Headspace have guided meditation series, and even three minute SOS sessions for whatever challenge you’re facing.
Whether it’s your partner, pet or pal, a physical connection with other living beings can help you de-stress almost instantly. So smooch your spouse, play with your pet or give a loved one a happy hug.
Even picking up the phone and calling a loved one for a chat can be beneficial.
If you or someone you know is in crisis please call one of the following national helplines:
Lifeline: 13 11 14
beyondblue: 1300 22 4636
For more information about mental health and wellbeing, please visit the Black Dog Institute’s website: https://blackdoginsitute.org.au/mental-health-wellbeing