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Top 5 Ways to Reduce Stress This Year

Top 5 Ways to Reduce Stress This Year

By Katy Duncan, Contributing Blogger

We’re living in unprecedented times. Are you tired of hearing that yet? Because I sure am. There are a million and one reasons to be stressed out right now, but I’m going to give you 5 ways to fight those feelings, right now. 

I’ve faced my fair share of stressful situations in life and tried out some stress-reducing techniques that are no joke. Let me tell you something, they work! Allow me to let you in on a little secret here, stress is a temporary emotion and you just need to find a temporary fix in the moment to handle it. Tackling why you feel stressed out is a whole other can of worms for another time!

Let's start with some stress-fighting techniques so you can get back to doing what you really want to be doing; stressing less, and living your best life. 

1. Meditate 

Meditation is a great technique to beat stress in the moment. All you need to do is find a quiet place for a few minutes, sit down, close your eyes and just be. Just for a moment, don’t try to fight the situation that’s stressing you out. Don’t try to make any plans in your head to solve your stress-inducing predicament. Just be

Meditation doesn’t have to be sitting cross legged on the floor either. Walking meditations are just as powerful in reducing stress in the moment. This may be why some people pace back and forth in times of stress. The physical act of moving will get your blood pumping and get the stress hormone, cortisol, out of your body. 

2. Breath Work 

Breathing deeply can trigger the part of your brain that helps fight stress fighting hormones like cortisol, and instead creates serotonin and oxytocin within the body. Those hormones are responsible for making you feel calm, happy and relaxed; which is where we’re all trying to get! By making a conscious effort to breathe deeply, using the entire capacity of your lungs, you’re allowing your body to reset and recenter. This action on your part will help you to get back on track. One breath at a time. 

Some breathing techniques to try are the 4/7/8 breathing technique, the 7/11 technique and rolling breath work. Let me break those down for you!

4/7/8 Breathing 

This is done by counting your inhales, pauses, and exhales. Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds, hold it for 7 seconds and let out a big exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds. 

7/11 Breathing 

Similar to the 4/7/8 breathing technique this is an example of breath work that focuses on counting your inhales, pauses and exhales. Inhale through your nose for 7 seconds, following it up with a nice, slow exhale through pursed lips for 11 seconds. This technique is best done with full belly breaths as opposed to shallow, upper respiratory breathing. 

Rolling Breath Work 

This technique is considered to be advanced but also highly effective. It can take time and practice to get the feel for it, but once you do, you can use this breathing technique to get your stress levels under control wherever you’re at. The steps for properly doing rolling breath work is as follows: 

  1. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest, noticing how your breath moves and the rhythm it has. 
  2. Breathing in through your nose, and out through your mouth, practice breathing through your belly first and allowing it to rise, and letting your chest and upper lungs follow. 
  3. Do this 8-10 times till you begin to feel the natural rise and fall rhythm of your breathing. It should resemble the constant flow of an ocean swell rising and falling. 

3. Visualization

Whether you do this on your own, or follow along with a guided visualization via YouTube or Spotify, you can whisk yourself away to some faraway land that is relaxing, calming, and stress free. The practice of visualization can temporarily stop stress in its tracks and allow you to spend a few moments in a calm, tranquil environment.

Some great guided visualization channels to check out to combat stress are Jason Stephenson’s guided visualization playlists and The Honest Guys.

4. Exercise

Getting your body moving is a great way to beat stress. This is because in times of unease, your body activates its fight or flight mode. You have to get yourself moving and convince your body you are no longer in this response mode.

Some great ways to get some exercise in and some stress responses out is by going for a walk or a run, grabbing a jump rope and skipping rope for 15 minutes, going for a bike ride, getting in a deep stretching yoga sesh, or lifting weights.

5. Get Outside 

Nature and fresh air can do wonders for us in stressful times. By getting out and breathing fresh air at least 2 hours a week, or roughly 20 minutes a day, you can fight stress at the source. Being outdoors is beneficial in a variety of ways including reducing stress, high blood pressure and has even been shown in studies from UEA's Norwich Medical School, written about in a post by ScienceDaily, to decrease the risk of type II diabetes. 

If you live near a beach, walking barefoot can be a double win because sand acts as a natural exfoliant. This means that by walking barefoot on the sand, you’ll not only be taking stress out of your life but taking the dead skin off your feet as well, leaving your mind, and your feet, soft, smooth and at ease. 

Stress doesn’t have to rule your life and it’s not a good idea to let it! Stress is responsible for an array of health issues that show up in the form of high blood pressure and heart complications. Not to mention stress can also be the culprit behind acne flare-ups and holding onto excess weight. By using these tips and techniques above, you can live a healthier, happier life.