If you cope well with pressure and only get stressed occasionally, these quick, simple techniques will help your mind and body relax and get back to a ‘normal’ state. Here are seven quick fixes for stress that almost anyone can use.
1. Breathe deeply
Taking deep breaths has long been known to calm us down, and is the easiest, fastest and cheapest way of dealing with stressful situations. Breathing more deeply maximises the flow of oxygen to your brain, which helps it take control of the symptoms and relax muscles. Some of the most effective stress therapies, like yoga and meditation, involve changing breathing patterns.
2. Talk about it
Stress can make us withdraw into ourselves, exaggerating negative feelings and perceptions. Talking to someone supportive about it can give a different perspective.
3. Take a break
Removing yourself from whatever’s making you feel stressed, like difficult colleagues or screaming children, isn’t always practical. But just taking a little time out can help. Try going somewhere for a few minutes where you can quietly visualise a scene or image that is enjoyable and relaxing.
4. Write it down
Jot down a note about how and why you feel stressed. This will help you break down the causes and stop you feeling overwhelmed and out of control. You may recognise a pattern to your symptoms and this will also help you get on top of them.
5. Get moving
Taking a walk calms you down with a surge of endorphins and increases the flow of oxygen to your body. It can help you focus on something different and see the source of stress in different frame of mind. You can also try progressive muscle relaxation techniques – tensing and releasing different muscles such as clenching and unclenching your fists. This relieves tension and calms you down.
… smoking, alcohol and coffee. You may feel that they help you cope, but they can all reduce the effectiveness of our bodies’ natural stress response. Caffeine can increase tension, alcohol is a depressant and over time can interfere with how our brains deal with stress; it can also trigger anger and aggression, as do nicotine cravings. Smoking also affects breathing patterns and can exaggerate the effects of stress.
7. Try the stress tests
If you haven’t already taken them, Stressbusting offers three tests to help you understand your symptoms and find suitable treatments:
- The Stress Test assesses how stressed you are
- The Therapy Selector Symptoms Test suggests suitable therapies according to your symptoms
- The Therapy Selector Personality Test helps you find stress therapies that suit your personality and lifestyle