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How to Relieve Stress

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Updated February 01, 2013

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How to Relieve Stress

How to relieve stress? Try a combination approach.

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If you're looking for less stress and more peace in your life, you're not alone; many, many people are feeling overwhelmed and wondering how to relieve stress. The key to a successful stress management plan is to have several techniques that can help you manage stress on many levels. The following tips can show you how to relieve stress in several different ways; explore one type of stress relief, put it into practice in your life, and move on to another, or use a combination of approaches beginning today. Whatever you chose, you can't go wrong here. Let's get started!
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Ongoing

Here's How:

  1. Relax Your Body
    When you experience a stressor, or a perceived threat to your wellbeing, your body is designed to spring into action with the stress response, which involves several physiological changes in your body that can prepare you to either fight or run. The problem is that many people experience stressors all day, and their bodies never quite get back to a non-stressed state, a situation known as chronic stress. Learn to relax to your pre-stress state, and save yourself. How to relive stress? Try techniques like breathing exercises and other quick stress relievers, and feel better fast!

  2. Change Your Thinking
    One tip on how to relieve stress involves stopping your stress response before it's triggered. This can be done because the stress response is triggered when you face real or perceived threat--it's the perception of threat that stresses you, not the actual situation you face. If you can change how you think about what you face, you can often avoid the experience of stress altogether. Cultivating an optimistic explanatory style, using reframing techniques, minimizing cognitive distortions, and viewing your stressors as a challenge can all help you accomplish this.

  3. Cut Out Stressors Where You Can
    Another way to stop stress before it affects you is to eliminate situations in your life that feel stressful to you. That means cutting out toxic relationships, if you find yourself routinely drained by difficult people. You may also want to focus on culling clutter if you find yourself losing things a lot or feeling stressed in your home. Creating a time management plan if you're too busy, learning to mange job stress if you're flirting with burnout, or addressing other lifestyle stressors can all bring a big payoff in relieving stress.

  4. Adopt Stress-Relieving Habits
    Certain habits can help you relieve stress if you make them a regular part of your life. Meditation, for example, can help you feel less stressed while you're practicing it, but regular meditation can help you become less reactive to stress that you encounter when you're not meditating. The same is true with exercise. Adopting a regular habit to help relieve stress can bring benefits in the short term as well as the long term. (Read more of the research on meditation and exercise here.)

  5. Get Ongoing Support
    It can be challenging to relieve stress, and it can get much easier to make necessary changes if you enlist support. This can mean letting your friends know what you're doing so they can cheer you on (and keep you honest), joining classes (yoga,meditation, and exercise classes are all great choices), hiring a life coach (many of us specialize in stress management), or even seeing a therapist or talking to your doctor if you need another level of support. To find some ongoing resources right now, subscribe to the free stress management newsletter.

Tips:

  1. Find a mix of strategies that work well for you, and put them to use.
  2. If you try something new that doesn't work for you, try to find another stress reliever of the same kind--another lifestyle shift, for example, or another change in your thinking--that can work better for you.
  3. Share This Resource With A Friend

    Sources:

    Forcier, Kathleen. (Nov. 2006). Links between physical fitness and cardiovascular reactivity and recovery to psychological stressors: A meta-analysis. Health Psychology, 25(6), 723-239.

    Johansson, Mattias; Hassermen, Peter; Jouper, John. (May, 2008). Acute effects of qigong exercise on mood and anxiety. International Journal of Stress Management, 15(2), 199-207.

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