Mid-April can be a stressful time of year (with the looming Tax Day coming up). For some, you may have procrastinated getting your taxes filed. For others, you may be the accountant putting in 15-hour work days to get everything ready and filed for your clients. For others, you may be in school and stressing about final exams. Whatever it is that’s causing you stress, we have a few tips to calm your nerves and relieve some of the tension in your life.
1 – LISTEN TO MUSIC:
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by a stressful situation, try taking a break and listening to relaxing classical music. Playing calm music has a positive effect on the brain and body, can lower blood pressure, and reduce cortisol, a hormone linked to stress.
2 – CALL A FRIEND:
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a break to call a friend and talk about your problems. Good relationships with friends and loved-ones are important to any healthy lifestyle, and there’s no time that this is more evident than when you’re under a lot of stress. A reassuring voice, even for a minute, can put everything in perspective.
3 – EAT RIGHT:
Stress levels and a proper diet are closely related. Unfortunately, it’s when we have the most work that we forget to eat well and, instead, resort to using sugary, fatty snack foods as a pick-me-up. Try to avoid the vending machine and plan ahead. Fruits and vegetables are always good, as is fish with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce the symptoms of stress. A tuna sandwich really is brain food.
4 – BREATHE EASY:
The advice “take a deep breath” may seem like a cliché, but it holds real truth when it comes to stress. For centuries, Buddhist monks have been conscious of deliberate breathing during meditation. For an easy three- to five-minute exercise, sit up in your chair with your feet flat on the floor and hands on top of your knees. Breathe in and out slowly and deeply, concentrating on your lungs as they expand fully in your chest. While shallow breathing causes stress, deep breathing oxygenates your blood, helps center your body, and clears your mind.
5 – LAUGH IT OFF:
Laughter releases endorphins that improve mood and decrease levels of the stress-causing hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Laughing tricks our nervous system into making us happy. [Give YouTube a whirl to find a short, funny clip that will bring a smile to your face and hopefully cause a little laughter to ring through your office.]
6 – EXERCISE:
Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean power lifting at the gym or training for a marathon. A short walk around the office or simply standing up to stretch during a break at work can offer immediate relief in a stressful situation. Getting your blood moving releases endorphins and can improve your mood almost instantaneously.
7 – SLEEP BETTER:
Everyone knows stress can cause you to lose sleep. Unfortunately, lack of sleep is also a key cause of stress. This vicious cycle causes the brain and body to get out of whack and only gets worse and worse with time. Make it a point to get the doctor-recommended seven to eight hours of sleep. Turn the TV off earlier, manage your time, and do your best to get into bed. It may be the most effective stress buster on this list.
8 – BE MINDFUL:
While most of the tips we’ve suggested provide immediate relief, there are also many lifestyle changes that can be more effective in the long run. The concept of “mindfulness” is a large part of meditative and somatic approaches to mental health and has become en vogue in psychotherapy. From yoga and tai chi to meditation and Pilates, these systems of mindfulness incorporate physical and mental exercises that prevent stress from becoming a problem in the first place. Try joining a class—many are free to try on the first day.
What helps you to relieve stress and unwind?