If you’re feeling stressed you’re certainly not alone. Everybody has experienced some form of stress at some point in their life and, due to the changes in lifestyle, the rise of technology and the growing and pressing demands of our social and work lives, more and more people are affected by it.
Here are 10 easy ways on how to manage stress:
Although you might not be aware of it, your nose can detect 1 trillion scents! Besides this amazing capability, your nose also provides a direct pathway to your brain and the amygdala. The amygdala is responsible to detect potential threats and activates the so-called “fight-or-flight” response: whenever you feel threatened, the amygdala releases stress hormones so to prepare you to either fight or flight.
By smelling calming and relaxing scents you directly influence the amygdala to reduce the amount of stress hormones produced, and helping you relax and calm down. Especially scents such as pine, lavender, jasmine and cedarwood have been proven to help with emotional stress and to relieve tension.
When your amygdala detects a threat, your body produces adrenaline and cortisol so to respond to a fight-or-flight situation. Physical exercise lowers those hormones in the body and helps you return to a pre flight-or-flight situation, reducing your stress level and helping you return to a relaxed state. Furthermore, exercise releases the feel good chemicals serotonin and endorphins which are proven to help you relax, lift your mood and increase your happiness and overall wellbeing.
We have a long and deep connection with nature and we naturally perceive nature sounds as very soothing and calming. Most importantly, nature sounds relax our fight-or-flight response. When we envision ourselves in a relaxed environment we often picture ourselves in nature, listening to the sound of ocean waves, the rustling leaves in the wind or the sound of a babbling brook in the woods. The same is true also for bird chirping, which naturally provokes in us a feeling of relaxation and safety, probably due to the fact that humans learnt, over thousands of years of experience, that when birds sing the environment around is safe.
Noisli offers a big variety of nature sounds that you can listen for free and which will help you relax and reduce stress.
When you’re stressed, it also affects your respiratory and cardiovascular system by making you breathe faster. This happens in order to quickly distribute oxygen-rich blood throughout the body so that your muscles have more strength to react in a fight-or-flight situation. By controlling your breathing, especially with deep long breaths, you can signal your brain to calm down and relax. Many studies have shown that doing frequent breathing exercises can help you to remain calm and relaxed when confronted with stressful situations.
Nature is one of the best and most powerful resources we have to reduce stress, boost our morale and improve our overall well-being. Simply going for a walk outside in nature is an easy way to unplug and help clear our minds from what is causing us stress. But not just that.
Being outside increases your vitamin D levels which helps to reduce your blood pressure, thus helping you to relax. By being in nature or performing activities in contact with nature such as gardening, the stress hormone cortisol gets reduced. It has also been found that the bacteria in the soil helps to increase serotonin levels, which again help you feel calm and lift your mood. Furthermore, fresh air helps to reduce blood pressure and the negative ion-rich oxygen found in nature has a relaxing effect on your body. To give you a comparison: per cubic centimeter, a heavy-traffic freeway has an ion count below 100, average air 2000-4000 while the air around a large waterfall 100000. The more the better!
The logical thing to do when you’re under stress is to try to remove the root cause of the stress as soon as possible. Unfortunately, this is not always the case as sometimes what causes the stress is not in our hands and therefore we cannot do much to remove it, leaving us with the only option to “sit and wait” while enduring the stress.
However, nothing is forever and you have to be confident that in the long run the situation will get better. Knowing this, you can work on ways to remove the stress factor in the long run.
If you can’t remove the stress factor, sometimes the only way that helps cope with a stressful situation is to not think about it. In those situations it’s useful if you can do something which keeps your mind busy and where you can fully immerse yourself. This could be watching a movie, playing a game or whatever else helps you keep your mind off what is stressing you.
A lot of things can cause us stress. Usually, stressful feelings are triggered by something we worry about or when we’re under a lot of pressure.
Unfortunately, we have a tendency to overestimate the emotional impact of a future event both in intensity and duration. This is even worse in the case of negative events, as we will overestimate how bad things are going to be and for how long those bad things will impact us, causing us a lot of unnecessary stress and worry.
Fact is, negative events don’t really impact us as much and for as long as we think they do. We have a very good psychological immune system which helps us to adapt to and cope with negative events. Be mindful and think about past events where you’ve been stressed and think about how deeply such events really impacted you and how well you actually coped in such situations after all. This will help you assess the current situation in a more realistic way.
When you’re feeling stressed it almost always helps to confide your worries and feelings to someone close to you. Don’t shy away to share your feelings with your loved ones, as it gives them the opportunity to offer their support and give you a helping hand. Sometimes all we need is a shoulder to cry on or somebody who’s ready to lend an ear.
When we find ourselves in a stressful situation our body and mind are already fighting enough with the negative consequences and effects of it. Beating ourselves up won’t do any good. What we really need instead in such situations is to be kind to ourselves and treat our body and mind with special care and attention. Take a long shower, have a hot bubble bath, treat yourself to good food or do whatever helps you relax and put yourself into a good mood.
Thank you for reading!
Head over to Noisli and listen to some soothing background sounds.