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There are some people I know who don’t seem to get stressed at all (ahem, my husband the Professor), and I’m glad there are people like that in the world. They annoy me sometimes, lol, but I try to use them as inspiration and realize that we definitely cannot have a world full of people like me, who overthink and stress eat about everything!
Stress and anxiety have been unwanted companions of mine for most of my life. Unfortunately it seems that I’m not alone in that, but also all of us who deal with stress and anxiety can take some comfort that we aren’t alone!
Here are 11 immediate stress-relievers that I’ve used over the years to help me calm down or stop the stress spiral before it gets out of control:
1. Listen to Music
Music is powerful! One research study said that listening to a particular song reduced the anxiety of listeners up to 65%! If you’re stressed or anxious, play your favorite song (unless it’s something that will made you sad- don’t go there!), or a song that you love to sing along with- something catchy that will pull you in and completely distract you.
If you have a playlist already set up on your favorite music streaming service, go straight to it! At work, I use Amazon Music or YouTube for music and at home, I love having the Amazon Echo to play something whenever I want. The Echo is also really useful in that you can just ask it to play different kinds of songs, like “catchy songs” or “happy songs” when you just want something to play.
If you don’t have a playlist already, make a playlist or multiple playlists of your favorite songs for certain times. In the article from above, there’s a list of the top 10 most relaxing songs that you could use to start out with. Just don’t listen while driving!
The other day I wasn’t having a great day for reasons, and I came across this compilation of animal Vines that made me laugh SO.HARD. Find some funny videos, or look at gifs, memes or pictures of baby animals- they will definitely change your mood!
3. Do a Brain Dump
Physically write down everything that you’re thinking about, everything that’s stressing you out, and you should feel some relief just getting it all out. You might be able to get a different perspective seeing it on paper too.
4. Think About What You CAN Control
We tend to focus on what we can’t control, what we’d like to change. Try thinking about what things you CAN control, and the comfort that you get from those things. Also remind yourself that you can always control your attitude towards something. I have a hard time with this sometime, and recall one of my grandpa’s favorite saying “Attitude is everything!”
5. Make a Plan
Decide what outcomes there might be in a situation, and make a plan for those. What actionable steps can you take to improve the situation? When you have a plan, then you don’t have to stress about it, just follow the plan.
6. Grab a Piece of Candy
Not only will you have something new to focus on, studies have shown that eating a piece of dark chocolate, hard candy or chewing on gum may relieve stress and improve mood. Dark chocolate is also reported to improve your memory and immunity!
7. Drink Some Water
Most people don’t drink enough water, me included! According to this article, stress over long periods of time can wear out your adrenal glands. Tired adrenal glands produce less of the hormone that regulates your fluid levels, so you get dehydrated. Pretty much everything in our whole bodies need water to function. Studies have shown even mild dehydration affects thinking and mood, so have a glass or two when you feel the first signs of stress rearing its ugly head!
Need help drinking more water? Check out this post: 6 Super Easy Ways to Drink More Water!
Stress causes your muscles become tight, sometimes without you realizing it! Tight muscles can cause a whole host of problems, including migraines, muscle spasms, muscle tears, and more. If you stretch at the first sign of stress, it’ll help those muscles not get too tight and instantly make you feel a bit better.
9. Play a Game
Play some kind of game that totally absorbs your attention for a little bit. You probably have a game on your phone that’ll do the trick. If not, this article recommends Tetris to reduce stress, or anything else that will be challenging enough to keep your mind engaged for a bit.
Reading a good book, or interesting article can suck you into another world and take your mind off anything going on in your own. Being stressed, I wouldn’t recommend reading the news, but some interesting articles can be found on Pocket if you need to find something quickly. Free e-books can also be found in a lot of places online. Check out this article for recommendations. If you enjoy fiction and haven’t tried reading fanfiction- fan writing based on movies, tv shows, books, etc., try out Fanfiction.net and Archive of Our Own. Just a warning- be sure to use filters when you search!
11. Look Outside & Breathe
Take a few deep breaths and look outside a window. Imagine blowing your stress out and letting your body relax. Try looking at every detail of nature that you notice. It sounds strange, but reminding yourself that there’s a world outside of your own will help you to gain perspective and take your mind off of stressful things for the moment.
Have a Little More Time?
- Go for a walk.
- Do a craft. I do enjoy coloring, but have found that Zentangles are a little more fun and relaxing for me. You don’t have to be artistic and it only takes about 15 minutes!
- Buy/make some stress dough, clay, your child’s Play-Doh or cloud dough. Squeeze it like there’s no tomorrow.
- Work on a puzzle, crossword, word find, or Sodoku.
You’ve got to determine what works best for you. Depending on what’s going on, sometimes something that only keeps my hands busy lets my mind run rampant and stress more. If you need something that keeps your mind busy, then try something more mentally challenging.
Stress and anxiety can have horrible effects on your health. If you’re experiencing them frequently, please talk to someone about it- be it a friend, family member, or a professional.
Let me know if any of these work for you, and what you’ve found that helps you deal with stress and anxiety!