The kids can’t find their homework, your husband hasn’t done the dishes, you have a big deadline at work, and the traffic on the way to the office already looks terrible.
For many women stress relief isn’t at the top of the to-do list each day, however stress affects nearly every system in the body and the long-term effects can range from emotional symptoms like anxiety and depression to the physical like reproductive issues and heart disease.
When you’re stressed out your body releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol (the fight-or-flight hormone)—which is great if you need to quickly jump out from in front of a speeding car, but less so if your stress comes from more daily issues like deadlines and dinner times.
Taking a little time out of your day for a few simple relaxation techniques and being mindful of your stress levels throughout the day can bring your risk down and your mood up. Try out a few of our easy ways to relieve stress the next time you’re feeling tense:
When you’re stressed, adding another activity to your day is the last thing you want to do, but studies show that just 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise is enough to combat stress and put you in a better headspace.
Exercising releases endorphins—chemicals that act as natural painkillers—which make your body feel good, reducing fatigue, improving alertness and enhancing overall cognitive function. In other words, exercise helps clear your head and relax, making it easier to sleep and stop the cycle of stress. To get moving, find something you love doing and start slow.
You’ll be more likely to keep with it if you pick an activity you actually enjoy and ease yourself into the routine.
Being outside in nature has been found to have a huge impact on your mood and your stress levels. Natural sunlight has been proven to increase the levels of serotonin, a chemical that makes you feel happy, in your blood. Even having a view of nature out a window or putting a few plants on your desk have been found to make a difference in mood and anxiety levels.
Try to eat your lunch al fresco in a park or courtyard with nice landscaping each day—you might be surprised at the difference in how you feel.
Kissing is definitely something most people enjoy doing, but who knew that it actually lowered your stress levels? Research from philematologists (scientists who study kissing) at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania has revealed that after only 15 minutes of kissing, the cortisol levels of both partners are decreased, indicating lower stress levels and lowering blood pressure.
Smooching your significant other now has the added benefit of protecting your health as well!
It might be a little counterintuitive, but tensing up (for a few seconds) might actually help you manage your stress. In progressive muscle relaxation you tense and relax each of your major muscle groups throughout your body, one at a time, from head to toe. We often don’t realize we’re tense but progressive relaxation helps you recognize where you’re tense and how to consciously relax those areas.
You are purposely letting go of your tension, relaxing your body and creating a sense of calm. Removing the tension from your muscles can go a long way towards lowering your stress levels.
Soak the Tension Away
At the end of the day one of the most relaxing things you can do is indulge a hot bath to soothe achy muscles and soak away the tension. Baths can also help increase blood circulation and calm the nervous system. Turn it into your own little spa retreat, even if it’s only for a half an hour before bedtime (did we mention it can help you sleep?).
Light some candles, turn on some music and don’t forget to add a soothing bath tablet to the hot water moisturize your skin and help you relax.
With the wide-reaching effects of stress on your emotional and physical wellbeing, taking time out to relax and calm down each day really is basic preventative maintenance.
So when you’re feeling a little frazzled give yourself a little time to reboot—you deserve a break, and it takes less time than you think to make a difference to your health and happiness.