For better or worse, stress is a part of everyday life. Not all stress is bad. Acute stress, which is in response to a specific event, can sometimes be good for you. The hormones released help prepare you to deal with the situation and gives you the energy you need to take action. However, if you’re continuously exposed to stressful situations, acute stress can snowball into chronic stress This type of stress is incredibly dangerous for health. Our body wasn’t designed to withstand the many stressors of modern day life, which is why chronic stress has been linked to heart disease, IBS, diabetes, anxiety, abuse, and sleep disorders.
Unfortunately, we have little control over what happens to us. If only we had the power to prevent traffic jams, toddler temper tantrums, and micromanaging bosses! But we do have the power to put a cap on our stressful reaction before it gets out of control.
Try these quick hacks to reduce stress the next time you feel your blood pressure boiling:
Try light yoga
A number of studies show yoga can reduce stress and anxiety. Theres no need for a full 60 minute class to get benefits. There are plenty of brief 5-10 minute videos online – you can even find poses to do at your desk.
Brew a cup of tea
I keep a selection of tea at work for this very reason. The act of brewing and sipping a warm cup of tea is soothing on it’s own, but did you know tea can reduce levels of cortisol, a stress hormone? It also contains a compound called thianine, which has a calming effect.
Take a nap
If you’ve got 10-15 minutes to spare, a power nap might be in order! Fatigue has a major effect on one’s ability to deal with stressful situations. Studies show power naps can recharge the brain, increasing alertness and improving problem solving.
Progressive muscle relaxation
This stress relieving strategy consists of briefly tensing, then releasing the muscles in your body. Start with your toes, then gradually work your way up through the body, moving through your feet, calves, thighs, buttocks, abdomen, shoulders, arms, and finally, the muscles on your face. This is a great one to do at your desk!
Take three deep breaths
Those few seconds can make a big difference! Concentrate on your breath and if you’ve got more time, try a longer deep breathing exercise or even meditation.
Try an adult coloring book
The latest trend is a way you can get similar benefits to meditation. Coloring helps you tune out anxious thoughts and focus on one thing. With practice, this mindfulness will transfer to day to day life.
Just a little bit of sunshine and nature can do wonders! If you’ve got time, go for a walk. Moving your body releases hormones that combat stress.