Stress can change your life.
And while there’s no avoiding stress, there are ways to alleviate it.
This is especially important since leaving stress unmanaged for too long can have a powerful impact on health.
Studies show that chronic stress can lead to serious health issues like accelerated aging, digestive disorders, and cardiovascular disease. Employees who are stressed also tend to dread work days, procrastinate, and have mood swings in the workplace.
The good news is, you don’t have to let stress get the best of you.
Next time you feel stress levels rising, we encourage you to try one of these stress relief activities.
Quick Stress Relief
1. Take a Walk
Sometimes we just need to walk away. Taking a walk can help you feel more present and offer an opportunity for you to slow down racing thoughts or emotions. If you can get outside, do so. If not, a short walk inside your office building or even up and down a stairwell may be enough to clear your mind. Psychologists have found that even a 10-minute walk can be just as good as a 45-minute workout in alleviating anxiety and depression.
2. Ground Yourself
Grounding techniques are great psychological tools to break out if you’re feeling emotionally overwhelmed. A grounding technique can divert your mind away from a stressful or intense moment.
Here’s a 5 step grounding technique to try:
Start with some deep breathing before looking around the room you’re in. This can be done aloud or silently, depending on your situation.
- Describe 5 things you see in the room
- Name 4 things you can feel or touch
- List 3 things you hear
- Name 2 things you smell
- Think of 1 good thing about your situation
Repeat as necessary and until you have returned to a calm state of mind. This works especially well for stressful situations like work meetings, flying, traffic jams, and more.
3. Turn on Your Favorite Music
Try frowning when your favorite song is on. It’s kind of impossible, right? Studies show putting on music you love can decrease your perceived stress while increasing your sense of well-being and personal control.
Next time a bad mood strikes, consider playing:
- Happy by Pharrell Williams
- Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars ft. Mark Ronson
- Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake
- Just Dance by Lady Gaga
- Shake It Off by Taylor Swift
Keep your headphones at work for moments when you just need to escape into a good song.
4. Connect With Others
Since we're social beings, it's important to have positive interactions with other people. This is especially true when you're experiencing high levels of stress. A quick phone call to your mom, or even taking a walk with your favorite co-worker to chat and laugh can ease your stress levels quickly.
5. Move Away From the Stress Source
In the moment, try physically moving yourself away from the situation that’s causing you stress. This can be particularly helpful during extremely overwhelming circumstances. If you're in the middle of a conversation, it’s okay to take pause. Saying, “I need a moment alone, please” is an appropriate response to give yourself time to walk away and decompress.
6. Make a List
If you've got a ton of things to do but no concrete plan to get them done, overwhelm will set in. Pull out a pen and paper and develop a plan.
How to create a stress relieving to-do list:
- Create a list of everything you need to get done for the week
- Block the list off into daily tasks
- Star the most important tasks
- Get priority tasks done first
Creating a list will help you feel in control and you may find items you can delegate or eliminate.
7. Envision Your Next VacationWhat's better than thinking about your next vacation? Whether you plan to go to a white sandy beach or take a week-long cruise, envisioning yourself in full relaxation mode helps the body do the same.
8. Squeeze a Stress BallWhen anger boils up, it can lead to unpleasant confrontations or internal mental issues. If the body gets too stressed, it tends to tighten up. A physical release like squeezing a stress ball can loosen some of that tension. This helps you relax and unwind in particularly stressful moments.
9. Enjoy Nature
If you can't take another minute of looking at your computer screen or your coworker, take a stroll outside. Research shows those who walked through green spaces like a park enter into a meditative state that can reduce stress. If possible, avoid busy streets and stay off your phone to enjoy the full benefits.
Stress Relief Activities Can Lead to Better Health
Every person experiences stress in some capacity.
Luckily, it's up to you how you can help control your body’s response to it, though.
The above tips are perfect to use throughout the work day, especially when you may be crunched for time. When you take time for yourself to de-stress, it positively impacts your energy levels, relationships, work performance, and mood.
If you let stress levels spike for too long, it can cause you to get sick more often, and even increase your chance of heart diseases.
Consider relaxation as a regular part of your health regimen.
However you find your body can relax, do more of it. Everyday you should have one thing to look forward to as a way to unwind. It may be enjoying a glass of red wine with your spouse, or taking a nice long swim in the pool.
Whatever it is that makes you happy and relaxed, do it daily.
What’s your favorite way to de-stress? Tell us in the comments below!