19 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress and Anxiety
We present you 19 simple strategies that will help you relieve these common health issues.
Relieve your mental stress by enduring physical stress through exercise. Although quite contradictory, this method is one of the most effective ways to fight stress. If you exercise regularly, you have less chances of experiencing anxiety, as oppose to people who don’t exercise (1). Here are several reasons that prove this:
- Exercise reduces the stress hormones in your body like cortisol, in the long run. On the other hand, it helps release the mood-enhancer chemical called endorphin, at the same time providing natural pain relief
- By helping relieve your stress and anxiety, exercise can also improve the quality of your sleep.
- Regular exercise increases the confidence in your body, which then promotes the mental well-being.
Activities like yoga, walking, rock climbing, and dancing, all of which use repetitive movements of large groups of muscles, are great for relieving stress.
2. Consider Supplements
Some of the most common supplements that successfully reduce stress and anxiety are:
- Lemon balm – studied for its anti-anxiety properties (2)
- Omega-3 fatty acids – the results of one study showed that omega-3 supplements helped medical students to relieve their anxiety symptoms by 20% (3)
- Ashwagandha – several studies have proven that this Ayurvedic herb effectively reduce stress and anxiety (4)
- Green tea – It helps relieve stress and anxiety thanks to its ability to raise the levels of serotonin (5)
- Valerian – Its tranquilizing effects make it to be a perfect sleep aid. The valerenic acid it contains changes GABA receptors to reduce anxiety
- Kava-kava – this psychoactive member of the pepper family has been widely used in the treatment of anxiety and mild stress (6)
Consult your doctor before taking any supplement in case you take other medication or you suffer from other medical condition.
3. Light a Candle
You can help lower you stress and anxiety by burning a scented candle or using essential oils. This stress-relief method is called aromatherapy, and can even improve your sleep (7), (8), (9). These are some of the most soothing scents:
- Roman chamomile
- Ylang ylang
- Orange or orange blossom
4. Lower Your Caffeine Intake
Although moderate amounts of coffee can be healthy according to many studies, high amounts of caffeine found in coffee (10), tea, energy drinks, and chocolates can increase anxiety. Therefore, if you notice that consuming any of these foods or drinks makes you anxious or jittery, consider reducing their intake.
5. Write It Down
The next time you are stressed out, try writing down the reason you’re upset, or what are the things you are grateful for. In this way, you will focus on the positive things in your life, and forget about the stress and anxiety.
6. Chew Gum
A quick and easy way to relieve your stress is chewing a stick of gum. According to a study, those who chewed gum had lower stress and greater sense of well-being (11).
One theory that explains this is that the process of chewing gum produces brain waves similar to those of calm people. Another theory claims that this process promotes blood flow to the brain. New study discovered that chewing more strongly provides even greater relief from stress (12).
7. Spend Time with Friends and Family
A support from family and friends is always beneficial when it comes to dealing stressful periods, for both, men and women. According to one study, when women hang out with friends and children, their bodies release the natural stress reliever called oxytocin. This is known as “tend and befriend” effect, in contrast with the fight-or-flight response (13).
Another study showed that people with the fewest social connections have higher risk of anxiety and depression (14).
Laughing is great for your health. Here are several ways laughing can help relieve stress:
- When laughing, we send more oxygen to our tissues and organs
- It stimulates and relieves the stress response
- It relaxes the muscles, thus releasing the tension
Laughter can as well enhance your mood and immune system in the long turn. One study conducted on cancer sufferers discovered that laughter caused higher stress relief than distraction (15). It takes so little to laugh, like hanging out with friends, watching a funny TV show or a funny YouTube video.
9. Learn to Say No
You should take control over certain parts in your life that are causing you stress. One of them is saying ‘no’ more often. This especially refers to those who feel overwhelmed by taking too much responsibilities that they can handle. A good beginning to control your stress is refusing to do something that will unnecessarily add to your load.
10. Avoid Procrastination
If you keep delaying something, that will cause and prolong the stress related to it, thus worsening your sleep quality (16). This can result in adverse effects on your health. The best way to avoid procrastination is to make a to-do list, and to accomplish the tasks within set realistic deadlines.
11. Yoga Classes
Although there are numerous style of yoga, they all have the same goal – to connect our body and mind. Yoga is an effective stress reliever as it increases both, the body and breath awareness.
According to some studies, yoga can improve mood and sometimes be as effective as antidepressant drugs in treating anxiety and depression (17). Although not precisely known, yoga is beneficial in cases of stress and anxiety since it affects the nervous system and stress response.
Yoga can reduce blood pressure, cortisol levels, and heart rate, but raise the levels of GABA- neurotransmitter that is reduced in case of mood disorders.
12. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness can help fight the anxiety-inducing effects of one’s negative thinking (18). It holds them firmly to the present moment. You can increase your mindfulness in few ways, such as mindfulness-based stress reduction, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, mediation, and yoga.
According to one study, mindfulness can improve the self-esteem, thus lessening the symptoms of depression and anxiety (18).
Kissing, cuddling, hugging, and sexual intercourse can all help relieve stress (19), (20). If you have a positive physical contact with someone, your cortisol levels will reduce and more oxytocin will be released. This in turn can help reduce the physical symptoms of stress: increased heart rate and blood pressure.
Did you know that chimpanzees also like to cuddle when they are stressed (21)?
14. Listen to Soothing Music
Slow-paced instrumental music can help reduce heart rate, blood pressure and stress hormone, thus inducing relaxation response. Although listening to your favorite music can calm your mind, certain types of classical, Native American, Celtic, Indian music, as well as nature sounds are also recommended (22).
15. Deep Breathing
Exercises for deep breathing, such as abdominal breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, and paced respiration activate the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for the relaxation response.
The goal of these exercises if concentrating on your breath, making it deeper and slower. Inhaling deeply through the nose causes expansion of the lungs and raising of the belly. This in turn helps reducing the heart rate, thus making you more calm. See how to practice diaphragmatic breathing here.
16. Spend Time with Your Pet
One study showed that people who own dogs have lower stress levels that those who don’t. Spending time with not only a dog, but any pet, can help release the brain chemical that promotes positive mood, called oxytocin (23). Keeping a pet will also mean purpose, added activity, and companionship, all of which contribute to stress and anxiety relief.
17. Get Enough Sleep
Your body needs some extra rest and sleep when feeling under stress. Find time to have a quick nap that will restore your energy, and release the stress of today’s busy lifestyle.
18. Consume Well-Balanced Meals
This means not skipping any meal, eating healthy foods, and always keeping healthy, energizing snacks on hand.
19. Get Help Online
There are online programs, such as those provided by Lantern, that are guided by professional and personal coaches that will help you successfully conquer your anxiety.