Ten ways to alleviate stress

Life can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming and we can get caught up with feeling stressed or anxious. If you’re feeling constantly on edge, tired and tense – maybe you’re struggling to sleep or turn off your mind – then try these 10 easy anxiety busters:

1) Harness your breath

Our  breath is one of our most powerful tools for combatting stress. Slow, deep breathing stops our ‘fight or flight’ response, which is usually the physiological trigger of stress. The fight or flight response pumps extra adrenaline into our blood, makes our heart beat faster and fools our body into thinking there is trouble around. Through intentional breathing, you can make your body believe that everything’s A-OK. There are many different techniques you can try when you begin to feel overwhelmed, but here’s one to get you started:

Close your eyes and focus only on your breathing. Inhale slowly through your nose. Feel your diaphragm move up into your ribcage and extend your belly outward as you inhale. You might want to put one hand on your belly and one on your chest, to make sure you’re breathing into your belly and not your chest. Slowly push out your breathe as you exhale through your mouth. Feel the stress being breathed out of your body and visualise it leaving your body. Each breath should take 6-8 seconds to complete. Spend 3-4 seconds slowly inhaling through your nose and the other 3-4 seconds slowly exhaling through your mouth. Take 5-10 breaths like this and you’ll instantly feel more relaxed.

2) Pick your caffeine wisely

We may generally feel charged after our morning cuppa, thanks to the mood stimulant, caffeine. However, the following comedown often invites anxiety and depression, leaving us feeling worse and relying on more coffee to maintain the good feeling. Reach instead, for green tea. It still contains caffeine, but also contains amino acid L-theanine which promotes relaxation and offsets the “hyper” effects of caffeine. Green tea contains more theanine than the other teas, so try drinking Green tea for a more calming and gradual wake up boost instead of coffee.

3) Have a nanna-nap

Nanna’s on to something. If you’re sleep deprived then you’re likely not functioning at 100%, feeling forgetful and irritable. You may also crave sugary or caffeinated food (see above!) which is going to make you feel even worse. Lying down for 20 minutes will give you a good chance to recharge your batteries. Try to incorporate some of the breathing from tip 1, but make sure your alarm is set for 20 minutes only – any longer and you may slip into a deeper sleep, which will leave you feeling more drowsy.

4) BFF to the rescue

What are friends for if not to help when we need them? Talking to a good friend about what’s on your mind will help to dissipate the energy around it, and maybe even put it into a better perspective. If she can’t help, she might at least have some good advice and if not, you can both have a good laugh about it (see below).

5) Laugh it off

Research has found a good cackle releases endorphins (feel-good hormones) into your system. Watch your favourite funny movie over again, or think of a funny memory that always cracks you up and get those endorphins swimming throughout your body.

6) Put it in writing

Feel like you’re about to blow? The problem may be that everything is bottled up inside of you. One way to get rid of unwanted emotions is to have a good rant in a journal or a letter (which you don’t have to send). Get out what you need to say and then forget about it – don’t stew too long on it as you’re then dwelling on negativity, which can be a downward spiral. Simply let your anxiety spill out and feel it leaving your mind once the words are on the page.

7) Clutter = confusion

A cluttered house means a cluttered mind. By bringing a sense of calmness and order to your home, you will essentially be doing the same to your mind. There’s a reason why no clutter is one of the key rules of feng shui. Pick the one area in the house that always makes you feel better when it’s tidy (for me this is the living room) and give it a five minute spruce up. Then enjoy the space you’ve created in home and head.

8) Walk off your worries

Not only will exercise release those feel-good endorphins, but it will also help to clear your mind, get your heart rate pumping and your blood circulating throughout your body. Try to think about your breathing as you walk, concentrate on each breath and empty your mind of thoughts. If you can, go for a walk near water or barefoot on grass, as both have a calming effect and are good for the soul.

9) Soak your feet

Fill up a large bowl with warm water and indulge in a foot bath. It will help to soothe your muscles and relieve any aches and pains. You could add some epsom to increase circulation and flush out toxins, and essential oils such as lavender to enhance the relaxing experience. Put on calming music and sit in a comfy chair with your eyes closed while you soothe your cares with this moment of Zen.

10) Aromatherapy

As mentioned above, essential oils such as lavender, chamomile, ylang ylang, clary sage, bergamot, frankincense, and sandalwood are often used in relaxation aromatherapy. As you inhale essential oils they stimulate the limbic system in the brain, which is linked to the emotions, the heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress, and hormone balance. Adding a few drops of these essential oils to an oil burner at home, or on a hanky that you carry with you when out and about will help you invite calm into your life.


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