Let’s talk about stress. When you’re stressed, alarm bells are activated throughout your entire body, including your musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, nervous, and reproductive systems. Sounds intense when you put it that way, doesn’t it? Luckily there are lots of ways to cool down your systems and stop those alarm bells from ringing. Since our favorite method (actual vacations) is still off the table, why not take a mental getaway with these 5 ways to reduce stress. Try ‘em out and you’ll be feeling zen in no time!
Believe it or not, one of the quickest ways to reduce stress is to make yourself yawn. Yawning is actually incredibly beneficial to your system. It brings in more oxygen to the blood, stretches out your facial muscles, and effectively cools down your brain. Luckily, it’s not hard to do. If you’re anything like us, you’ll already be yawning by the end of this paragraph – it’s so contagious!
Whatever you’ve been doing all day, stop. Many times when you fall into a daily routine (especially if you’re not leaving the house too often these days), it can leave you feeling stuck. So, to get “unstuck,” try breaking things up for just a few minutes. Drop what you’re doing, get up and fold your laundry, do a couple of jumping jacks, or take a quick shower; it matters less what the activity is, as long as you’re breaking your daily pattern for a few minutes.
When you’re stressed, your body is likely holding that tension physically. Without noticing, you’re probably breathing less, pulling your shoulders up towards your neck, and clenching your teeth. An old trick, but a good one is to squeeze, squeeze, squeeze every muscle in your body for a few seconds, and then let go of them one by one. Not only will this remind you to ease up, but while you’re thinking about each muscle that you’re engaging and releasing, you’re less likely to think about what’s stressing you out. Do this 4-5 times in a row, and we guarantee you’ll be less tense almost immediately.
For this, all you have to do is hop on YouTube, and you’ll discover hundreds of quick and easy meditation practices you can do in your own home. As little as 10 minutes can often take your stress levels down a notch, with very little effort on your part. Find one that works for you, and come back to it, or try a new one every time you’re feeling an uptick of stress.
The gut-brain axis is very real, and often the reason your stomach feels off during a stressful time. By keeping your gut happy, you’ll be doing your stress levels a favor too! This is definitely a longer-term strategy, but it’s never too late to start! Try introducing more real, gut-friendly foods into your diet, and keeping a log to help you determine what works and what doesn’t for your body. By doing this, you’ll be consciously promoting mindful eating, AND taking better care of yourself in the process.