From minor challenges to major crises, stress is part of life. And while you can't always control your circumstances, you can control how you respond to them.
When stress becomes overwhelming, or it's chronic, it can take a toll on your well-being. That's why it's important to have effective stress relievers that can calm your mind and your body.
Mindfulness training is a scientifically proven way to literally reduce the negative impact stress has on you and your health. Here are a set of mindfulness-based stress reducing practices that can literally change the way you are experiencing stress.
Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation involves relaxing all the muscles in your body, group by group. To practice, you can start with a few deep breaths.
Then, practice tightening and relaxing each muscle group, starting with your forehead and moving down to your toes.
With practice, you'll learn to recognize tension and tightness in your muscles and you'll be able to relax more easily. Each time you practice, however, you should experience a feeling of relaxation sweeping through your body.
Focus on Breathing
Just focusing on your breath or changing the way you breathe can make a big difference to your overall stress level. Breathing techniques can calm your body and your brain in just a few minutes.
The best news is, no one around you will even know you're doing them. So whether you're in a stressful meeting or you're sitting in a crowded theater, breathing exercises could be key to reducing your stress.
While there are many different breathing exercises, like karate breathing, a few simple ones include:
Breathe in through your nose and watch your belly fill with air.
Count slowly to three as you inhale. Hold for one second and then slowly breathe out through your nose as you count to three again.
Breathe in through your nose and imagine that you're inhaling peaceful, calm air. Imagine that air spreading throughout your body. As you exhale, imagine that you're breathing out stress and tension.
Physical touch can do a lot to relieve your stress. Hugging a loved one can be especially beneficial.
When you hug someone, oxytocin (also known as the "cuddle hormone") is released. Oxytocin is associated with higher levels of happiness and lower levels of stress.
Oxytocin also causes a reduction in blood pressure. It reduces the stress hormone norepinephrine and can produce a sense of relaxation.
So don't be afraid to ask a loved one for a hug if you need it. It's good for both of you and it can be one of the simplest forms of stress relief available.
Aromatherapy has real benefits for stress relief—it can help you to feel energized, more relaxed, or more present in the moment.
Emerging research suggests certain scents can alter brain wave activity and decrease stress hormones in the body.
So whether you enjoy candles, diffusers, or body products, consider incorporating some aromatherapy into your day.