Quick Stress Relief
Ever wish a stress superhero could save you from traffic jams, chaotic meetings, or a toddler’s tantrums? Well, you can be your own stress-busting superhero. Everybody has the power to reduce the impact of stress as it’s happening and stay in control when the pressure builds. Like any skill, learning how to squash stress in the moment takes time, experimentation, and practice, but the payoff is huge. When you know how to quickly relieve stress, you’ll be able to stay smart, productive, and focused—no matter what life throws at you.
What you can do
- Find something to look at that makes you feel calm and alert
- Sing or hum a tune that energizes you
- Run your hands over something soothing
- Breathe in a scent that you find invigorating
- Sip something that soothes and relaxes you
- Stretch or move slowly in a way that both soothes and stimulates you
What is the best way to relieve stress fast?
There are countless techniques for managing stress. Yoga, mindfulness meditation, and exercise are just a few examples of stress-relieving activities that work wonders. But in the heat of the moment—during a high-pressured job interview, for example, or a disagreement with your spouse—you can’t just excuse yourself to meditate or take a long walk. For these situations, you need something more immediate and accessible.
One of the speediest and most reliable ways to stamp out stress is by engaging one or more of your senses—sight, sound, taste, smell, touch, or movement. But since everyone is different, you’ll need to do some experimenting to discover what works best for you.
Talking face-to-face: another rapid stress reducer
Social interaction is our body’s most evolved and surefire strategy for regulating the nervous system. Talking face-to-face with a relaxed and caring listener can help you quickly calm down and release tension. Although you can’t always have a pal to lean on in the middle of a stressful situation, maintaining a network of close relationships is important for your mental health. Between quick sensory-based stress relief and good listeners, you’ll have your bases covered.
Tip 1: Recognize when you're stressed
It might seem obvious that you’d know when you’re stressed, but many of us spend so much time in a frazzled state that we’ve forgotten what it feels like when our nervous systems are in balance—when we’re calm yet still alert and focused.
Recognize stress by listening to your body
When you're tired, your eyes feel heavy and you might rest your head on your hand. When you're happy, you laugh easily. And when you are stressed, your body lets you know that too. Get in the habit of paying attention to your body’s clues. Here are some tips for recognizing when you’re stressed:
Observe your muscles and insides.
Are your muscles tense or sore? Is your stomach tight, cramped, or aching? Are your hands or jaw clenched?
Observe your breath.
Is your breath shallow? Place one hand on your belly, the other on your chest. Watch your hands rise and fall with each breath. Notice when you breathe fully or when you "forget" to breathe.
Tip 2: Identify your stress response
Internally, we all respond to the “fight-or-flight” stress response the same: blood pressure rises, the heart pumps faster, and muscles constrict. Our bodies work hard and drain our immune system. Externally, however, people respond to stress in different ways.
The best way to quickly relieve stress often relates to your specific stress response:
Overexcited stress response – If you tend to become angry, agitated, overly emotional, or keyed up under stress, you will respond best to stress relief activities that quiet you down.
Underexcited stress response – If you tend to become depressed, withdrawn, or spaced out under stress, you will respond best to stress relief activities that are stimulating and energizing.
The immobilization or “frozen” stress response
Do you freeze when under stress? The immobilization stress response is associated with a past history of trauma. When faced with stressful situations, you may find yourself totally stuck and unable to take action. Your challenge is to break free of your “frozen” state by rebooting your nervous system and reactivating the body’s natural “fight-or-flight” stress response. Physical movement that engages both your arms and legs, such as walking, swimming, running, dancing, climbing, or tai chi, can be particularly help. As you move, focus on your body and the sensations you feel in your limbs rather than your thoughts. This mindfulness element can help your nervous system become “unstuck” and move on.
Tip 3: Bring your senses to the rescue
The following exercises can help you identify the sensory experiences that work to quickly relieve stress for you. As you experiment, note how quickly your stress levels drop. And be as precise as possible. What is the specific kind of sound or type of movement that affects you the most? For example, if you’re a music lover, listen to many different artists and types of music until you find the song that instantly lifts and relaxes you.
Explore a variety of sensations so that no matter where you are you’ll always have something you can do to relax yourself.
The examples listed below are intended to be a jumping-off point. It’s up to you to hone in on them and come up with additional things to try.
(Thanks to helpguide)