Simple ways to relieve stress can differ for everyone - and you know best what works for you.
Stress is a natural response to many different factors in our lives, but it doesn't have to be bad.
Whether you feel like you're too busy, not enough time is going around the clock or that your responsibilities weigh on your shoulders.
In this article, I share 10 simple ways to relieve stress.
What is stress, and why does it happen
Most of us experience stress in our lives. When we have a deadline, get important news, or have to take care of other obligations.
Stress can be something negative to something positive and is a natural response to many different factors in our lives.
Stress can be caused by work obligations, physical or psychological trauma and even tricky family relationships.
Stress is not only crucial for your mental health, but it's also good for your body when you don't overreact with too much cortisol.
The stress response releases adrenaline, your heart rate increases, blood vessels constrict, and your immune system kicks into high gear.
When you are under stress, your body gets ready for a perceived threat. Those who overreact to the stress response with too much cortisol can suffer from heart disease, obesity and even depression.
1. Wake Up to Reality
Being your boss means you don't answer anyone, and you work on your terms and choose your time.
Now that's where the issue starts, and For a resilient go-getter, we hardly know when to draw the line. We work from dawn to dusk literally, multitask like we are superhumans.
Time for some reality check; answer these questions below:
- Can you genuinely figure everything out by yourself?
- While you don't have to answer anyone, do you have loved ones who care and worry about you?
- Do You constantly feel fatigued, irritable, bloated?
- Do you sleep less than 7 hours daily?
If you answer Yes to ONE of the above, It's time to Wake to the truth.
You can't possibly figure everything out, so it's unfair to be hard on yourself about it. Our Actions and inactions rub off on our loved ones, so think about them.
I have two little kids, and when I got knocked down by burnout, all I kept thinking was my family. I couldn't step up to being the mom they know at that time. Even when I try my body wouldn't let me, and that broke my heart. That was my wake up call to take things easy.
2. Smell the roses
The oxford dictionary defines it as 'enjoy or appreciate what is often ignored'.
I get that we have to keep ourselves disciplined and accountable, but the question is, at what cost?
In our busyness, we need to get to where a few minutes break here, and there is incorporated into our daily activities.
It doesn't have to be thought out; just do it,
- Get for a few hide and seek games with your kids.
- Go for a walk and enjoy nature, the colours of the trees, the birds flying, the insects on the wood, the cats and dogs passing by.
- wear a smile
- Whatever feels good to you...what I'm suggesting is to make it a habit to observe something daily. It will improve your mood.
A good mood is a good recipe for creativity, so fuel it.
I mentioned earlier about sacrificing a lot as an entrepreneur, as the tasks keep piling up, the more we become neck-deep in work.
You can tell the impact on your relationships with friends and families and your social life.
In relieving stress, you want to try one of these today:
- Call a friend or family you haven't spoken to in a long while
- Do something you've always enjoyed, e.g. baking, karaoke, crafts.
- Whatever you do, please keep it simple. the point is to allow yourself to enjoy those things that light up
- We are spirit beings, we live in a body, and we possess a soul...that means we have a higher being that makes us define our essence. I am a Christian, and I know that something magical happens when I pray daily and connect with God. Here is what I have noticed over time when I get too busy for God, there's an emptiness, a longing that begs to be filled. There are times in our lives that talking to people isn't enough, but talking to God gives us indescribable peace. Reconnect with your maker. He is always 'online'.
4. Listen to Relaxing Music
Playing calm music has a positive effect on your body and brain; music connects with the 1. The limbic system is where your emotions and feelings live, and 2. the automatic system (blood pressure, brain function, and heartbeat).
How and when to use music to relieve stress
- As I am writing this article, I listen to a soothing instrumental, so that's one way of using music as a soundtrack for your activities.
- You can do nothing and sit still but listen to sounds or music to relax if you are looking for a way to lower your stress levels to feel relaxed or during certain challenging activities or prompt you to feel stressed. Calming and Relaxation music has been proven to kickstart the feeling of peace and alleviate anxiety.
Some suggest these types of music and sounds as effective stress relievers:
- Rain, wind, and other nature sounds
- Native American, Celtic and Indian stringed-instruments, drums, and flutes
- Light jazz and classical music
5. Have a good Chat with Yourself
There are times when talking with a friend or family might not be the exact thing you need. If this is your case, it is okay to talk to yourself.
It is not a crazy thing to do, and it is nice stress relief.
Research has shown that it is beneficial to your mental wellbeing. This is not talking loud in mindless chatter but talking about ourselves in the third person helps manage your feelings.
In doing that, you want to:
- Be nice to yourself but be honest
- Address why you are stressed
- what is needed to complete a task at hand
- Reassure yourself that everything will be Fine
- If possible, have one or two positive affirmations repeated as often as you can.
Laughter is a free natural medicine that can improve your mood, immune system and help combat stress. Research has shown that laughter as a stress reliever can increase your physical and mental health.
Physical effect of laughter
- When you laugh, you take in oxygen-rich air, which stimulates your muscles, heart and lungs.
- laughing helps to lower blood pressure because as you laugh, you release endorphins that counteract the negative effect of stress hormones
- Your immune system gets a boost when you laugh because as you laugh, you get the positive mindset that releases neuropeptides and infection-fighting antibodies that help fight stress.
Mental effect of laughter
- Laughing distracts you from stressing over tasks which provides a break from worrying thoughts.
- Laughter helps to reduce stress hormones. Laughter can lower cortisol levels by increasing your oxygen intake and aiding the circulation throughout your body.
- Laughter increases the feel-good chemicals produced by your brain that increases happiness levels called Endorphins.
7. Enjoy a Cup of Green Tea
Drinking a high dose of caffeine can cause a short term spike in your blood pressure. It is also known to cause your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis to get into overdrive.
So, instead of loading up on coffee or energy drinks to keep 'getting by, enjoy a cup of green tea.
- Green tea contains healthy antioxidants and thiamine (an amino acid that has a calming effect on your nervous system
- Green tea has less than half the caffeine of coffee
8. Give your body the gift of sleep.
One aspect we tend to cheat a lot is sleep; however, it's a 'cheat' that can lead to multiple/overlapping consequences.
As the boss of your business, you have your time to do whatever you want with it and but that shouldn't mean working till your body can't take it.
It started with me by moving bedtime from 9 to 10, then slowly it became 11 pm, then 12 am, and then 2 am. What I realised is we adjust to routines easily, and getting off the pattern can be difficult. There is no dispute in the result of sleeping btw 4 hours or 7 hours daily.
I feel it's an abuse to deprive our body of the rest it deserves, we are loading it with too much stress, and one way or the other, our body at some point will demand that rest by Force, and honestly, we don't want it to get to that point.
Here's my suggestion:
- Change your mindset around sleep: It is a gift to your body because you cherish it, and you need it to function well to thrive in your business.
- Work back to sleeping at the latest 10 pm. whatever isn't done by 10 has to wait till the next day. your sleep is that important
- Create an optimal environment for sleep: Sleeping in a dark room gives your body the cue it's time to sleep, and it can help reduces insomnia.
- Avoid screens at least an hour before sleep like the blue light they emit hamper sleep.
9. Start your Customised Exercise routine:
When it comes to exercising, you have to pick one that won't add more stress to your body, and simple exercises always add up in the long run. The key is consistency.
When trying to relieve stress, you want to get your blood moving as it releases endorphins and can help boost your mood almost instantly.
Exercising will not only be for stress relief, but regular exercise also improves your health in other ways. And by improving your heart health and physical wellness, you will have less to worry about.
Simple exercises that can help with stress:
- swimming or water aerobics
- Activities with resistance bands
10. Incorporate Breathing Exercise
To take from the Customised Exercising, practising some breathing exercise can calm you down in unique ways you cant imagine.
This is 'calming the mind' exercise. If you haven't tried it before, it can feel so strange but keep at it, and you will soon realise how helpful it is to relieve stress.
The best part is you can do this in 5 mins or less. Sit up in your chair, make sure your feet are flat on the floor, put your hands on top of your knees.
Then Breathe in and out slowly and deeply, concentrating on your lungs as they expand fully in your chest.
Now I know you came for 10 simple ways to relieve stress, however Im going to add 3 bonus tips to that.
11. Treat yourself to Healthy Diet.
When we are stressed, the tendency to crave sugary, fatty snacks foods increases. Sugar can help you feel less exhausted because it suppresses the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in your brain, which controls your stress response.
Now, the temporary relief of sugary snack food may make you more dependent on sugar, which potentially increases the risk of obesity and its related diseases.
Healthy snack/ food when stressed:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Fish with high levels of omega 3 fatty acid has been said to help reduce stress symptoms.
- Dark chocolate: because of the high level of antioxidants, cocoa helps to neutralise free radicals and reduce metabolic stress. Also, cocoa can improve cognitive function and mood.
12. Re-evaluate your to-do list
If your to-do list looks overwhelming, it actually is. You don't have the luxury of having more than 24 hours per day. Pilling up a to-do list/task that gets you to 'overdrive' will make you burn out sooner than you think.
If you want to enjoy some self relieve:
- cut down on multitasking,
- set reasonable targets
- Feel good saying No when you know that's the right thing to say.
- Track your processes and customise them to allow you time to breathe and take breaks.
13. Count Blessings
Gratitude makes you identify all the things you have to be thankful for.
Even when business isn't going the way you plan it, or things are getting complicated, or tasks are piling up, a good way to see is through gratitude.
Gratitude highlights the resources you possess to cope with stress.
- keep a gratitude journal
- Create a habit of gratitude, identify what you are thankful for in your business and personal always.
How to recognise when you're feeling stressed
It's important to recognise when you're feeling stressed and know how to stop the cycle as soon as possible.
Stress can manifest in many different ways. Here's how to see if you're stressed:
- You feel tired/exhausted, but you still feel overworked.
- You feel overwhelmed or feel like your responsibilities are weighing on your shoulders
- You find it hard to relax.
- You're short-tempered.
- You're more prone to sickness.
- You feel frustrated a lot.
- You're not looking after yourself and eating healthy or exercising regularly.
Final Thoughts on 10 simple ways to relieve stress
Your entrepreneurial journey comes with a lot of sacrifices which you are ready to take on board.
However, when the sign and symptoms of stress begin to show, your body starts communicating that something isn't right.
That is the time to evaluate if sacrificing your health for your hustle will benefit both your body and business.
Now, through this list and pick the ones you can start with today. Most of them you can fit into your life immediately, but then this is about you, don't feel pressured but take action today:
- Wake Up:
- Smell the roses: (enjoy or appreciate what is often ignored)
- Listen to relaxing music
- Have a positive Chat with yourself
- Grab a cup of Green tea
- Give your body the gift of sleeping
- Incorporate breathing exercise
- Treat yourself to a healthy diet
- Re-evaluate your to-do list
- Count your blessings
I will love to know which one of these you will commit to start with today. Comment below.