Relieve Stress

Ten Simple – and Free – Ways to Relieve your Stress

Stress is a behemoth, invisible but oh-so-present. That family member you dread hasn’t even arrived yet. You can feel the tension as you wait for them to show.

While you can’t change your family, you can change your relationship with stress.

Below are ten ideas to get you started relieving your stress. They don’t cost a thing – some even save you money!

      1. Breathe deeply. Repeat five times. The key is to breathe in quickly, then breathe out slower than you breathed in. Without even trying you lowered your blood pressure!
      2.  Look at a plant, any plant as long as it’s real and is green. Relieve stress - flower Bonus points if you get an office plant or are lucky enough to have greenery outside your window. We evolved in nature and a few generations aren’t enough to remove that from our DNA. Being in nature, or even looking at a plant, reduces stress and increases happiness. No green thumb required.
      3. Go outside and move – walk, crawl, whatever – get some fresh air. Move something on your body other than your hands on the keyboard. We all know we should exercise more, and that’s great, but start where you can and focus on the fresh air and moving. The rest will come when you are ready.
      4. Reduce caffeine. Did you know that your body doesn’t process caffeine well until after late morning (around 11am)? That means the first cup in the morning isn’t doing a whole lot to help keep you awake. Save the caffeine for when you truly need it. Replace with decaf, herbal tea, hot chocolate, or some other warm beverage in the morning. Keep the placeholder (hot beverage = wake up) but reduce the stress. Caffeine Stress RelieveCaffeine makes your heartrate rise, temperature increase, and speeds up brain processing. If a car is about to hit you, your body does the same thing – creates stress so your response is quick and efficient. Don’t add stress where it’s not needed.
      5. Sleep routine (or a morning routine – one routine at a time). Don’t do this at the same time as #4. It’s like a giant science experiment – one variable at a time. Take a look at what you do as you get ready for bed, when you get up in the morning, and if you have any leeway in those times. Replace a bad habit (scrolling through social media) with a good habit (clean up the house a bit).
      6. Try something new. Think back to when you were five – what did you want to be when you grew up? (I’ll discuss that question another day: full of stress inducing lies) What did you think was cool and ooh SO adult? If you took a six month vacation, what would you do after spending the first month doing nothing? Take a class, learn on YouTube, read a book and actually take notes.
      7. If you have a pet, give them your full attention.  A cat’s purrs literally help Cat relieve stressyou calm down or heal faster if you are injured. A dog’s presence reduces anxiety and stress – why do you think colleges have exam dogs visiting study areas? Give them your full attention to get the full effect. I’m not suggesting you give into every kitten cuddle request … but give them undivided attention and I promise you’ll feel better afterwards.
      8. Unsubscribe from all retail emails. All of them. Even your favorite store.  You won’t be comparing your item with what they are offering – it’s asking to feel insufficient or not your best. Unless your clothes are literally falling apart at the seams, I promise you look great and you don’t need it. Full price is a fair price for not having a full inbox everyday and feeling inadequate on a regular basis.
      9. Look in the mirror and say/think: I am strong. I am beautiful.  If it doesn’t feel right, that’s okay – say/think it anyway. If you are at home, I encourage you to say it out loud. If you need a pick me up at work, take a few seconds in the bathroom and think it. I am strong. I am beautiful. I am grateful. Even if you are just grateful to be breathing and have the chance to be grateful, be grateful. It triggers new pathways in your brain that can become strong enough to override the stress.

    I am strong. I am beautiful. I am grateful.

    1. Try journaling. It’s the adult version of a diary, except that it’s cool AND helps your stress levels. If you write about what stresses you out, or frustrating you, the paper takes the weight of the stress.  Keep at it, whenever you think about it, and your clamoring brain will slow down.

    Have you tried any of these? What else works really well for you? Leave a comment!

About the Author Katie Drash Mapes

Katie calls Richmond, VA home with her husband and all the furry, four-legged creatures he and municipal code will allow. She has spent years bringing her anxiety under control, learning to trust her intuition, and dreaming of a world where people live in sustainable harmony. She is addicted to popcorn, avoids wearing shoes, should do yoga but doesn't, reads non-fiction for fun, and reluctantly gave up caffeine in search of peace. Just don’t ask her to give up sugar (read: ice cream).

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