Tensed up shoulders, a wonky stomach, headaches and a changed appetite are some of the ways your body reacts to stress. From minor challenges to major crises, stress is part of life. And while you can’t always control your circumstances, you can control how you respond to them. When stress becomes overwhelming, or it’s chronic, it can take a toll on your well-being. That’s why it’s important to have effective stress relievers that can calm your mind and your body. People have a variety of ways of dealing with stress and what works for some won’t necessarily work for you.
As the world celebrates Stress Awareness Month to help people prevent, treat and relieve stress, TC46 brings you 10 novel stress relief ideas. Try something that works the best for you and stay stress-free, whether it’s professional or personal.
10 Fun, Quirky Ways To Keep Stress At Bay
1. Go On A Cleaning Binge
Any repetitive activity, such as washing and cleaning, would probably have a great effect if practised with a dose of mindfulness. Getting chores done in itself probably relieves some stress. Giving the inside of your fridge a good wipe-down or really getting into the sofa cushions with a vacuum attachment has multiple stress-reducing benefits. It’s a project that requires a little planning, but some physical activity, both of which can reduce stress and is likely to result in a sense of achievement that lifts your mood. And working mindfully at it can reduce stress even more. Researchers say that folks who were told to stay gently focused on what they were doing while washing dishes boosted their effect, although being mindful while you do most any activity may show similar benefits.
2. Get A Massage
When the body is stressed, muscles tense up. Muscle tension is almost a reflex reaction to stress – the body’s way of guarding against injury and pain. Studies support the claim that adults who got regular massages showed lowered stress chemicals, an increased immune response, and higher levels of oxytocin, the cuddle hormone. If there’s no one willing or able to work out the tension in your muscles, you can do it yourself. It also makes you more aware of where in your body you’re feeling tense, so you can consciously relax those areas. Some good spots are that big ropy muscle at the front of your neck, your shoulders, the hinge of your jaw, and pressure points in the palm of your hand.
3. Do A Quick Exercise
Exercise is a fantastic stress reliever that can work in minutes. Quick bursts of movement are great if your stress is making you feel jittery or like your heart is beating faster than normal. Whether it’s a set of 20 jumping jacks, 10 pushups or sit-ups, or running in place for 30 seconds, a burst of activity gets your heart rate up. This will activate several neurotransmitters, including dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine that enhance your mood and help cushion some of that anxiety and stress. Yoga and pranayam can help relieve stress easily and aid your mental health in a ton of ways.
4. Dance Like No One Is Watching
Whether you are practising for your college fest or rehearsing for the next sangeet party you are attending, dancing brings a smile to your face. Putting on your favourite playlist and letting loose is, of course, good exercise, which is a long-studied stress-reliever. It also engages the mind and brings on feelings of inspiration. Dancing to music from a happy time and place in your life can trigger positive memories, as well, taking your mind off your stress. So if you are someone who doesn’t mind letting your feet do the talking, whether it’s solo in your bedroom or surrounded by people, dancing is your best stress-busting activity.
5. Time To Stress Cook
Because cooking engages our senses, it has the ability to activate memories. The smell of a dish might remind you of your nani ka ghar, or perhaps your favourite restaurant or vacation. Allowing yourself to be immersed in these memories as you cook is a therapeutic way to relieve stress and boost your mood. The need to prep, choose a recipe, collect the ingredients and go step-by-step to make the food can ease anxiety caused by stress. So let your creativity flow, choose a recipe that excites you and cook something delicious that soothes your mind, body and soul.
6. Have Sex
Studies have found that sex was a stress reliever for couples in a satisfying relationship. Engaging in sexual activities has a buffering effect of intimacy on stress and leads to a better mood all around. As for solo sex, masturbation is a sensory experience that helps you focus and releases bodily tension; doing it to orgasm releases dopamine and endorphins, both of which can lift you out of stress. Masturbation has plenty of health benefits; the focus necessary to orgasm helps de-stress your mind, an orgasm-induced endorphin release also helps improve your mood and so much more.
7. Do Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)
Progressive muscle relaxation involves relaxing all the muscles in your body, group by group. PMR helps reduce anxiety and calm breathing. To practice, you can start with a few deep breaths. Then, practice tightening and relaxing each muscle group, starting with your forehead and moving down to your toes. With practice, you’ll learn to recognize tension and tightness in your muscles and you’ll be able to relax more easily. Each time you practice, however, you should experience a feeling of relaxation sweeping through your body. It may be more relaxing to listen to someone else walk you through the exercise.
8. Engage In Artwork
Doesn’t matter if you choose an adult colouring book, doodling on a paper, drawing with pencils or creating on a canvas. Artwork, of all types, helps relieve stress. You don’t have to have any skill at art to just let your pen have its way with the page. Research consistently shows that colouring can have a meditative effect. If you aren’t into drawing or painting, consider colouring in a colouring book. Adult colouring books have risen in popularity and for good reason – colouring can be a great stress reliever.
9. Engage Your Senses
During times of stress, relief may literally be at the tip of your nose. Intentionally engaging our five senses; hearing, touch, smell, taste, and sight are incredibly powerful tools in providing instant relief in a hectic world. Aromatherapy has real benefits for stress relief, it can help you to feel energized, more relaxed, or more present in the moment. Emerging research suggests certain scents can alter brain wave activity and decrease stress hormones in the body. So whether you enjoy candles, diffusers, or body products, consider incorporating some aromatherapy into your day. Put on your favourite playlist, order comfort food or go frolick in nature.
10. Try Touch Therapy
Physical touch can do a lot to relieve your stress. Hugging a loved one can be especially beneficial. Hugging and cuddling can slow the release of the stress chemical cortisol and increase your flow of endorphins, the feel-good chemicals that counter depression and stress, according to various studies. Oxytocin also causes a reduction in blood pressure. It reduces the stress hormone norepinephrine and can produce a sense of relaxation. Moreover, the sense of connection with someone you love can provide perspective. When you put a little love in your life, stressors seem smaller and less important.
Remember, you are the ultimate judge of the stress-relievers that work for you. What can be one person’s source of boredom can be another person’s stress relief. You get to decide which of these stress relievers you’ll include in your personal collection. Once you are conscious of what works for you, you can add a touch of relaxation into every hour of your life. So try them all or try a few, be sure to share your favourite stress-busting activity with us in the comments below.