7 Ways to Reduce Stress

reduce stressThe other day I was doing my ‘business as [un]usual’ when a tweet by Arianna Huffington [@ariannahuff] caught my eye. She tweeted ‘INFOGRAPHIC 7 ways women can reduce stress‘.

You must understand that any information containing the words ‘seven’ and ‘women’ triggers my curiosity immediately, so I clicked the link and studied the infographic. It was some very valuable information! I retweeted the tweet and posted the infographic on my Facebook wall.

The big questions are:
Why are we, as women, so stressed out?
And what can we do about it?

I’m sure you recognize this [at least to some extent]:
The kids need a ride to school, your husband can’t find his favorite shirt, you have a meeting scheduled in half an hour and your best friend desperately needs your help. All.At.Once!

Is it any wonder that you are stressed out? That you can’t find a minute for relaxation? In fact, if you’re like most women, you may have even forgotten how to relax.

And though experts say that some stress is good for you [it can sharpen your senses and your mind] too much stress is bad for your mental and physical health.

In the infographic the first given solution to the question ‘How can you combat stress?’ is ‘Practice Relaxation’. Relaxation can do wonders to restore the balance in your life. And it reduces some of the health risks associated with stress. So we are going to look deeper into that! Here they are: seven ways to relax and reduce stress!

Drink hot tea
If you’re a coffeelover-to-the-bone, consider going green. Coffee raises your levels of the notorious stress hormone cortisol, while green tea offers health and beauty. Chamomile tea is a traditional favorite for calming the mind and reducing stress.

Show some love
Induce relaxation by cuddling your pet, giving an unexpected hug to a friend or family member, snuggling with your spouse or talking to a friend about the good things in your lives. When you do, you’ll be reducing your stress levels. Why? Social interaction helps your brain think better, encouraging you to see new solutions to situations that once seemed impossible. Studies have also shown that physical contact, like petting your dog or cat, actually helps to lower blood pressure and decrease stress hormones.

Create a ‘chill-out’-routine
In the same way pre-bedtime rituals put you in the mood for sleep, a pre-downtime routine helps you get in the mood for relaxation. As soon as you arrive home, shed whatever reminds you of work. Stash your bag out of sight and kick off your heels. Changing your outfit can change your mindset instantly! Next, do something that offers a change of pace. If you have a desk job, head outside for a run or a swim. If you’re on your feet all day, ease into a warm bath. Soon you’ll feel yourself mentally drifting away from what stresses you out.

Get a hobby
Keeping your hands busy settles your mind. Just ask any knitter. In the summertime it is even more fun to choose some outdoor activities that require repetitive motion. Think of barbecuing [place burger on grill, flip, serve, repeat] or gardening [dig, plant, water, repeat]. Repetitive motion works like a meditation mantra. It shuts down the body’s fight-or-flight response. Helps lowering blood pressure and heart rate. For optimal chill-out effect, keep your sessions brief [approx. 20 minutes] otherwise your mind gets the chance to take over again.

Take an attitude break
Thirty seconds is enough time to shift your heart’s rhythm from stressed to relaxed. The way to do that: engage your heart and your mind in positive thinking. Start by envisioning anything that triggers a positive feeling. A vision of your child or spouse, the image of your pet, that great piece of jewelry you’re saving up to buy, a holiday… Whatever it is, conjuring up the thought will help slow breathing and relax tense muscles and put a smile on your face. Creating a positive emotional attitude can also calm and steady your heart rhythm, contributing to feelings of relaxation and peace.

Breathe deeply
Feeling stressed evokes tense, shallow breathing, while calm is associated with relaxed breathing. So to turn tension into relaxation, change the way you breathe. Try this: let out a big sigh, dropping your chest. Exhaling through gently pursed lips. Now imagine your belly as a deep, powerful place. Feel your breath coming and going as your mind stays focused there. Inhale, feeling your entire belly, sides and lower back expand. Exhale, sighing again as you drop your chest, and feeling your belly, back and sides contract. Repeat 10 times, relaxing more fully each time.

When you catch yourself thinking about your job, your relationship or your lifelong to-do list, find a quiet place to sit or lie down and put the stressful situation on hold. Take a few deep breaths and concentrate on releasing tension and calming your heartbeat. Quiet your mind and remember: time is always on your side, so relax. The stress can wait. Try it for just 5 to 10 minutes a day and watch stress levels drop.

So if your hectic lifestyle has got you down, these relaxation techniques can bring you back into balance. Some even in five minutes or less!

I am convinced that the list above is not complete! What do you do everyday that helps you to unwind, relax and reduce your stress levels? Please share your tips and insights in the comment box below! Thank you!

Mirjam Stoffels
Always interested in personal and business development. Founder of seven2success.com, a platform of knowledge and inspiration for women, by women.

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