A certain amount of stress is just part of the human experience. It’s natural. Yet too many people suffer with severe stress that disrupts sleep, work performance, health, relationships and life satisfaction. High stress often calls up its pal anxiety, and together they can stir up panic attacks that can interfere with a purposeful life. When we live at such a rapid pace, we may not even realize we are in a tense and stressed state. We reached out to Live Happy readers and staff for their best tips to reduce stress, quiet the mind and brighten your outlook.
Dial back on detrimental stress with our 48 natural fixes to find your calm. Use the tips that resonate with you most!
1. Practice Yoga. Slow down and connect. There’s a form of yoga for every preference.
2. Enjoy a cup of hot tea. Sample different types until you find one that soothes you. Peppermint, chamomile and green tea will all do the trick.
4. Walk in nature. Fresh air, birds chirping, trees reaching to the sky and sunshine beaming down all have a calming effect on your mind.
5. Try alternate nostril breathing. It’s called “Nadi shodhana” and it activates the parasympathetic nervous system to reduce blood pressure.
6. Exercise. It’s just science. Regular workouts combat stress and give you a dose of feel-good endorphins. Plus, it helps you get a better night’s sleep making you more equipped to positively handle stress.
7. Use essential oils. Just smelling a bit of lavender can help you shift to a calmer state.
8. Have music you love readily available. Whether you use Pandora, Spotify, iTunes or something else, make sure you have music you love at your fingertips. Belt out your favorite song, blast your favorite band or go Zen with your tunes. Music is a powerful outlet and coping strategy all in one. (Loud rap music was a popular suggestion to de-stress.)
9. Dance. Dancing can help release pent-up emotions. It’s a healthy way to escape stressors, and you also get the endorphins that come from exercise if you sweat it out.
10. Stretch. It feels good, it’s good for you and it slows you down.
11. Take a bath. Bubbles and dim lighting can create a relaxing atmosphere. Wine optional.
12. Schedule acupuncture. A quiet dimly lit room and those tiny needles placed in your skin is an ancient Chinese practice thought to foster natural healing and boost immunity.
13. Savor a glass of wine. Feet propped up of course.
15. Listen to mantras. Repetitive sounds and positive sentences can reach the unconscious mind. Chant, listen to mantras or repeat them to yourself.
16. Hike for the exercise benefits and the calming landscape.
17. Get a full body massage.
18. Try your hand at art. Paint. Color in an adult coloring book. Shape clay. Hands-on expression is a healthy outlet for stress.
19. Clean. Vigorous cleaning can give you a sense of accomplishment and order.
20. Walk dogs. Two in one—walking and the calming effects of spending time with a pooch you love. Bonus.
21. Count. The repetitive mundane task of counting can distract your mind when it goes to a worrisome place.
22. Sit on the patio. When is the last time you sat just to relax and do nothing?
23. Run. They call it runner’s high for a reason. There’s something magical about being able to lace up your shoes anywhere, open a door and go.
24. Punch a punching bag. Release stress through physical exertion.
25. Organize. Let’s face it. Stress is often caused by situations that feel out of our control. Organizing puts us back in the control seat and brings on the calm.
26. Talk therapy. A professional can help you process and rethink your beliefs. Gain new insights that empower you to defeat stress.
27. Talk to friends. Social connectedness is directly related to our mental and physical health.
28. Sleep. Sleep is part of the big three—with the other two being nutritious food and exercise. Go for eight hours, even if you’ve tried to convince yourself you only need six.
29. Hug. Give them freely. Accept them regularly.
30. Reduce caffeine, alcohol or sugar. Consciously decide when you will have any of the three to regulate consumption. Overindulging can amp up stress.
31. Cuddle with your significant other. Physical intimacy reminds us that we aren’t in this alone.
32. Garden. Flowers, vegetables or spices—make your choice to occupy your hands in the earth to feel grounded.
33. Replay fond memories like little movies in your mind.
34. List gratitude. Ask yourself what’s good right now. Train your brain to notice everything that’s going right in your life.
35. Journal. Get what’s churning in your head on paper. It’s just cathartic and often the process leads to solutions.
37. Do one nice thing for someone. It’s human nature to help and it feels good for the receiver and the giver.
38. Go fishing.
39. Try a mental shift. Realize you and your significant other are on the same side. Next time you get agitated about something your “other” has said or done, remind yourself that you’re on the same team. Choose not to react and watch the difference it makes.
40. Pet an animal. The repetitive motion and the loving care will relax you.
41. Go near water—a pond, a lake or an ocean. Listening to or watching water has a soothing effect.
42. Savor a cup of coffee.
43. Listen to a Live Happy Now Podcast.
44. Watch a comedy show. Laughter is the best medicine.
45. Let it go. If you can’t control it or change it, consider letting it go.
46. Try labor rage. Curse like mad at those weeds while you are gardening.
47. Laugh at yourself. Can’t find your keys (again!) or you trip on a curb? Smile and laugh at yourself. We’ve all been there.
48. Burn natural candles to inspire a peaceful environment in your home.