Activities — such as walking or jogging — that involve repetitive movements of large muscle groups can be particularly stress relieving. If your hectic lifestyle has got you down, WebMD's experts say relaxation techniques can bring you back into balance -- some in 5 minutes or. And even more exciting, the stress relief benefits will increase with regular practice. Try as many as you can—there's something here for.
In these situations, you need something more immediate and accessible. One of the speediest and most reliable ways to stamp out stress is to engage one or more of your senses—sight, sound, taste, smell, touch—or through movement.
Talking face-to-face with a relaxed and caring listener can help you quickly calm down and release tension. Observe your muscles and insides. Are your muscles tense or sore? Is your stomach tight, cramped, or aching?
Are your hands or jaw clenched? Is your breathing shallow? Place one hand on your belly, the other on your chest. Watch your hands rise and fall with each breath. Your body works hard and drains your immune system.
Externally, however, people respond to stress in different ways. If you tend to become angry, agitated, overly emotional, or keyed up under stress, you will respond best to stress relief activities that quiet you down.
Do you freeze when under stress? The immobilization stress response is often associated with a past history of trauma. When faced with stressful situations, you may find yourself totally stuck and unable to take action.
Physical movement that engages both your arms and legs, such as walking, swimming, running, dancing, climbing, or tai chi, can be particularly helpful. As you move, focus on your body and the sensations you feel in your limbs rather than on your thoughts. To use your senses to quickly relieve stress, you first need to identify the sensory experiences that work best for you.
This can require some experimentation. As you employ different senses, note how quickly your stress levels drop. And be as precise as possible. What is the specific kind of sound or type of movement that affects you the most? The examples listed below are intended to be a jumping-off point. Let your imagination run free and come up with additional things to try.
Slowly savoring a favorite treat can be very relaxing, but mindless eating will only add to your stress and your waistline. The key is to indulge your sense of taste mindfully and in moderation. As strange as it may sound, vocal toning is a special technique that reduces the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol.
Try sneaking off to a quiet place to spend a few minutes toning before a meeting with your boss and see how much more relaxed and focused you feel. It works by exercising the tiny muscles of the inner ear that help you detect the higher frequencies of human speech that impart emotion and tell you what someone is really trying to say.
Experiment by changing the pitch and volume until you experience a pleasant vibration in your face and, eventually, your heart and stomach.
Having trouble identifying sensory techniques that work for you? Look for inspiration around you, from your sights as you go about your day to memories from your past. Think back to what you did as a child to calm down. If you had a blanket or stuffed toy, you might benefit from tactile stimulation. Try tying a textured scarf around your neck before an appointment or keeping a piece of soft suede in your pocket.
Observing how others deal with stress can give you valuable insight. Baseball players often pop gum before going up to bat. Singers often chat up the crowd before performing.
Ask people you know how they stay focused under pressure. Think back to what your parents did to blow off steam.
Did your mother feel more relaxed after a long walk? Did your father work in the yard after a hard day? The power of imagination.
Once drawing upon your sensory toolbox becomes habit, try simply imagining vivid sensations when stress strikes. Taking a short hiatus from the television, computer, and cell phone will give you insight on what your senses respond to best.
At first, it will feel easier to just give into pressure and tense up. But with time, calling upon your senses will become second nature. Think of the process like learning to drive or play golf. Instead of testing your quick stress relief tools on a source of major stress, start with a predictable low-level source of stress, like cooking dinner at the end of a long day or sitting down to pay bills.
Think of just one low-level stressor that you know will occur several times a week, such as commuting. Vow to target that stressor with quick stress relief every time. After a few weeks, target a second stressor and so on.
If you are practicing quick stress relief on your commute to work, bring a scented handkerchief with you one day, try music another day, and try a movement the next day. Not to mention the effect it has on family ties. A recent study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family found a link between the use of cell phones and pagers at home and increased stress, which spills over into family life.
To make technology work for you, screen calls with caller ID or, better yet, limit your cell phone and e-mail use to working hours only. Can't kick the BlackBerry habit? Set a regular time you'll check it in the evening say, after dinner , so you're not constantly disrupting home life to keep tabs on work. Recall a past success. Taking five minutes to reflect on how you pulled through other stressful situations like your last breakup or when you switched jobs can help you reconnect with your resilient side.
In the moment, it may feel as though you'll never get over your present problem, but when you look back, you realize that you felt similarly before and found a way to overcome it. If you're going through a divorce or recently lost a loved one, you also may want to seek out a support group: Do yoga asanas in your pajamas. A simple spinal twist can help you get a better night's sleep. It alleviates tension that's built up in your lower back throughout the day. Sitting on your bed with legs crossed, place your right hand down on the bed behind you and rest your left hand on your right knee.
Sit up straight and inhale for four to eight counts, lengthening your spine as you breathe. On your exhale, begin to twist toward your right hand don't strain your neck. Hold this position for four more full breaths, lengthening your spine on the inhales and deepening your twist on the exhales, if it feels comfortable. Repeat yoga asanas on opposite side.
These stress-reducing yoga poses also help calm anxiety. Worry about one thing at a time. Women worry more than men do. A study of married couples who kept stress diaries for six weeks found that women feel stress more frequently than men because women tend to worry in a more global way.
Whereas a man might fret about something actual and specific—such as the fact that he's just been passed over for a promotion—a woman will tend to worry abstractly about her job, her weight, plus the well-being of every member of her extended family.
Keep your anxiety focused on real, immediate issues, and tune out imagined ones or those over which you have zero control, and you'll automatically reduce stress overload. Focus on your senses a few minutes a day. For a few minutes a day, practice being mindful—focusing only on what's going on in the present —whether it's during your workout or taking a break from your work. Try taking a short walk and instead of thinking about what's worrying you, pay attention to your senses—what you see, feel, hear, smell.
This can make a huge difference in your emotional and physical well-being when done daily. Talk about—or write out—what's worrying you. Writing or talking about the things that prey on you—in a diary, with friends, in a support group or even a home computer file—helps you feel less alone and helpless.
One study, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association , looked at people who had either rheumatoid arthritis or asthma— conditions known to be stress-sensitive.
One group chronicled in a perfunctory manner the things they did each day. The other group was asked to write daily about what it was like, including fears and pain, to have their disease. People who wrote at length about their feelings had far fewer episodes of their illness. Be faithful to your workout routines, no matter how stressed or busy you are. Working out is one of the most effective stress relievers. Researchers recently found that after spending 30 minutes on a treadmill, their subjects scored 25 percent lower on tests that measure anxiety and showed favorable changes in brain activity.
If you only have time to do one thing for yourself, make it sticking to your workout routines. If you can't hit the gym or trails, even a brisk minute walk at lunch or getting up several times a day to stretch and walk around will help relieve stress. Take time to be touched. Experts haven't figured out why having your body pressed and prodded works wonders, but they know that it does. Studies suggest massage can speed up weight gain in premature babies, improve lung function in asthmatics and boost immunity in men with HIV.
If you can't indulge in regular full-body massages, treat yourself to the occasional pedicure, manicure or facial—all nurturing, hands-on treats that offer some of the mind-body benefits of massage. Speak a stress-free language. People who handle stress well tend to employ what stress experts call an "optimistic explanatory style. So instead of using statements that catastrophize an incident, like "I'm a complete failure," they might say to themselves, "I need to work on my backhand. Rather than saying, "I really blew that presentation," it's, "That was a tough group to engage.
You can expect to quench your thirst with a drink of water. You cannot expect to get the job you just interviewed for. You can hope to get it. Don't be so serious. There's nothing like anxiety to annihilate your sense of humor.
It would follow, then, that it's impossible to feel stressed when you're hunched over in a fit of giggles. Studies have shown, in fact, that laughter not only relieves tension, but actually improves immune function. Swap jokes with your friends. Rent a funny movie. Stop taking things so seriously! Once a day, get away. When you're having a hell of a day—good or bad—checking out for minutes is revitalizing. Find a place where you can be alone and definitely ditch the cell phone —the attic, the bathroom, a quiet cafe, a big oak tree—and wipe the slate clean for a few minutes.
Do whatever it is that relaxes you: Meditate, read a novel, sing or sip tea. It's crucial to take just a few minutes everyday to de-stress. It's not how much time you allot, but being consistent that's important. Identify at least one good thing that happened today.
In Need of Stress Relief? The Answer Might Be in Your Diet
Reduce stress in your life and relieve tension in your mind and body! Each stress reliever links to resources to get you started quickly and. Yoga, mindfulness meditation, and exercise are just a few examples of stress- relieving activities that work wonders. But in the heat of the. Learn how to relieve stress and boost your mood with powerful relaxation techniques such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing.