Stress can and has occurred in most of our lives at one point or another. But each of our experiences with stress can differ. Some have had to deal with acute stress, while others have had to deal with episodic and chronic stress, which are more extreme types of stress. Let’s take a quick recap.
Acute stress can come on quickly and often times unexpectedly. It also doesn’t last very long. Those who experience acute stress often times do so by responding to an event in their life such as a job deadline, exams on which you feel you aren’t prepared for or even public speaking.
Episodic stress can occur when we frequently experience acute stress or when our lives present frequent stress triggers. Often times, we find our selves dealing with episodic stress if we live in a life of chaos and crisis. There are two main personality types associated with this type of stress.
First, there is personality. Those who express a competitive drive, impatience, aggressiveness, and urgency are more susceptible to chronic stress. Next is the worrier who tends to have non-stop negative thoughts. These thoughts often times are about probable disasters, catastrophe in every situation and have core beliefs that the world is unrewarding and dangerous.
Chronic stress is the most severe and most dangerous type of stress If left untreated for too long, chronic stress can cause irreversible mental and physical damage. It can affect people who have lived in long term poverty, unemployment, poor work environment, repeated abuse of any form, substance abuse, a dysfunctional family or an unhappy marriage. The behavior of those experiencing chronic stress have been ingrained and, in most cases,, they have adopted to the stress.
No matter what type of stress we have had to endure in our lives, each type comes with its own set of symptoms. Both mental and physical. It is important that you do seek medical help if you feel it is causing you much discomfort and distress in your life. But in the mean time, there are a few natural and effective ways you can help relieve the symptoms of stress.
Some techniques will work for others while it might not work for you too well. Try giving a few of them a try to see what works for you. When trying to choose your best match, keep in mind of your personality as well as the situation you are in. You may even find that a few of the techniques can work harmonious to help with your stress.
Stressful events causes our body to go into a “flight of fight” state of mind. When this happens, our bodies increase adrenaline and we experience physical symptoms. Some of these symptoms include:
• Racing heartbeat
• Quicker breathing
• Constricted blood vessels
Breathing exercises work quickly, can be done anywhere and are great for acute stress. By focusing on your breath or changing the way you breathe can have a great impact on your overall stress level. In a matter of time, they can calm your mind and your body.
There are different breathing methods you could do but to start off, try simply breathing in through your nose slowly and watch your abdomen fill with air. Count slowly to three as you inhale. Hold for one second then slowly exhale out through your nose. Repeat as many times as you need. You will feel an instant change.
You can also do the same technique, but instead, on the slow inhale, imagine inhaling fresh, calm and peaceful air. As you exhale, imagine all of the stress and tension leaving your body.
Putting physical stress on your body can have positive effects on your stress. By exercising 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week, you can lower your body’s stress hormones called cortisol and adrenaline and release “feel good” hormones called endorphins. By exerting the built up energy and "flight or fight" hormones, we can help reduce the feelings of stress.
If you’re having trouble sleeping at night from stress, exercising can help you fall asleep much quicker and allow you to go into a deeper, more restful sleep.
Exercise also increases your confidence. Let’s face it, all this working out is going to have positive physical effects on your body. And with that new physique, why wouldn’t your confidence level sky rocket?
Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore. If you are able to find a routine and activity that works best for you, it will become a part of your new healthy lifestyle. Doing activities outside can actually kill two birds with one stone, but we will get into that a little later.
There are several different activities you can do, whether you are the type of person that likes to be around people (extrovert) or likes to do things alone (introvert).
Activities involving repetition of movement from large muscles that gets your heart rate up are most effective. Some heart racing activities include:
• Bike riding
• Rock climbing
These exercises decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize moods, improve sleep and improve self-esteem. So if you’re feeling the pressure of stress, it may be time to incorporate a little exercise into your daily schedule regularly.
Yoga is a great practice that combines meditation, physical movement, controlled breathing, stretching and light exercise. This is what makes it an effect tool when combating the symptoms of stress. You might not be able to immediately feel the change, but over a longer period of time, you can reap the benefits of yoga when you incorporate it into your daily routine.
If you are unsure on where to start with yoga, take a few beginner classes in a group setting or if you are a loner, such as myself, you can opt to take classes at home.
Meditation has been proven throughout the years to be effective in relieving stress. Mixed with deep breathing, and you have a power house for naturally confronting stress.
There are several types of meditation practices that help battle stress. Meditation enhances mindfulness or focus on a particular object, thought or activity. Once practiced a few times on a regular basis, it allows you to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state of mind.
Meditation allows for awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective. It allows you to not turn off your thoughts and feelings, but to observe them without judgement.
Practicing meditation on a regular basis joins your body and mind together into one. You start to become more aware of your body as you begin to get in-tune with your inner self. Proper and regular meditation techniques can enhance your mood and can be as effective as an anti-depressant.
A few types of meditation are as follows:
• Guided meditation
• Calming meditation
• Insight meditation
• Focused attention
• Body scan
• Loving kindness
• Skillful compassion
• Resting awareness
Below is a list of advanced mediation techniques that may require a little more experience, research and even should be learned with an experienced or certified teacher:
• Zen meditation
• Mantra Meditation
• Transcendental meditation
• Yoga meditation
• Vipassana meditation
• Chakra meditation
• Qigong meditation
As you can see, there are many forms of meditation. So if ever you feel the need to get in-tune with yourself or help relieve a little stress, practice meditating in your free time or incorporate it into your daily schedule and get ready to reap the healing benefits.
Spend Time With Loved Ones
When you’re stressed, most of the times you might not want to be around others. Often times, you may feel as though you want to be in your room curled up under a blanket watching Lifetime movies all day.
Me personally, found that this is the ABSOLUTE worst thing you could do.
When you’re alone, your thoughts run rampit. For me, scenes and words replayed over and over in my head. I over analyzed EVERYTHING and made up things that weren’t even true. I'm sure you can relate in some way.
It wasn’t until I forced myself to go out and be with family and friends that these thoughts and feelings began to slowly diminish. Being around friends and family (non-toxic ones) can help take your mind off of negative situations and you may be able to focus on spending much needed time.
If you can’t be there physically, a simple phone conversation can also help. They can help you work out your situation, give you ideas and even distract your mind from what is causing you stress.
If you are able to see them in person, give and get a hug. Physical contact releases a hormone that is associated with happiness and lower levels of stress called oxytocin. Oxytocin is also known as the cuddle hormone and it can be very beneficial when combating stress.
Be around people that make you smile and make you happy. Avoid those that have negative energy or are in toxic situations themselves. Being around people gives you a sense of belonging. So call up a few friends, call them over, hangout, and enjoy each other’s company.
My favorite way to relieve stress is to use aromatherapy. Hopefully you can find as much value in it as well. Aromatherapy uses parts of the chemical compounds of plants and can help with relieving stress as well as anxiety, hormone imbalance and so much more. Aromatherapy can be very therapeutic during times of high stress. Certain fragrances have natural calming and stress relieving properties. There are several different ways to incorporate these therapeutic aromas.
Lighting candles, incense, or using oil burners with essential oils can infuse the fragrances into the air and release the calming properties. You can also use diffusers, body products, inhalers and wax melts. Essential oils that help to relax you and reieve stress include the following:
• Ylang Ylang
• Roman Chamomile
• Orange/ Orange blossom
*Always be sure to consult with your physician before using essential oils and be sure to read the labels properly before use.
Take a look at Self Verve’s aromatherapy collection to find the best fit for you if you decide to give aromatherapy a try. Our products are specifically designed to help relieve stress and anxiety.
Being creative can help relieve stress by distracting your mind and focusing on one action other than your stress factor. Research has shown that coloring actually has a meditative effect when coloring complex geometric patterns.
Being creative doesn’t have to be limited to coloring. Being creative can also include digital arts, music composition, hobbies and writing (poetry, stories, lyrics, journaling). So be creative about being creative.
Another easy and little effort way to relieve your stress symptoms is to express gratitude. But what exactly does that mean? Be thankful for the things that you do have instead of worrying and stressing over things you don’t. Expressing gratitude can be as simple as being thankful for a sunny day or being grateful that you have a loving family and great health.
Studies show that showing gratitude helps with your mental health, have a better quality of life as well as reduce stress. You can talk aloud what you are thankful for or you can write it down in a gratitude journal. Either way, it can be very beneficial to make being grateful a regular habit.
Cognitive re-framing is a simple way to help you think of the world around you in a different light. It is about taking a sentence or a phrase such as “my back is killing me” and turning it into a positive phrase such as “my back could feel better”. By doing this simple change, you can ultimately change your thoughts and your experience about the situation.
The words that we say to ourselves can turn simple stress into a major traumatic event or it can turn a really bad day into a mild one. It can change our physical response stress to a perceived stress into an actual one. It’s all about what we tell ourselves, so why not tell ourselves some positive things into a positive one.
Make Time for Yourself
Whether you enjoy sitting in a cozy spot and reading a book, tending to your garden or taking a relaxing hot bath, be sure to find some time for yourself. All day, we spend time taking care of others whether it be family members or meeting our boss’s demands. When do we have time for ourselves? To do what we enjoy doing?
Find that time and commit to that time. Put aside other’s people’s needs for a few moments and take care of yourself. It’s ok to be selfish at times. Set a time in your day to commit to time to yourself. Let other people and family members that that time is for you. I’m sure they can understand.
Listen to Music
Listening to soothing music (I find binary beats to have the most success) can help relieve some of the stress you may be experiencing. The following genres of music have been said to be the best at relieving stress:
• Sound Frequencies
• Native American
• Indian stringed- instruments
• Light jazz
For the most part, you want to find music that is slow and quiet. When listening to these genres, it tends to have beneficial effects on your body by slowing your heart rate, lowering blood pressure and decreasing levels of stress hormones. There is no right or wrong genre here. Only you can be the judge of how the music affects you and your stress.
Get in Tune With Nature
Nature. Another one of Earth’s natural path to stress relief. Having a stressful day? Mad at your boss or significant other? Go back to the basics.
Take a walk in the park- granted it isn’t below freezing outside- watch a few nature shows, or view a few scenic pictures. By doing this, you can reduce anger, fear and stress.
You also are increasing pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature makes you feel better emotionally and contributes to your physical well-being by reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and the production of stress hormones.
You don’t only have to view scenic pictures however. Listening to nature sounds- similar to listening to soothing music- can be very beneficial as well. As human beings, we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the modern day.
Often times, to relieve stress, all we have to do is go back to the basics a few moments out of each day to remember who we really are. Just human.
It doesn’t matter what you listen to or what you view in nature, just do it. But if you don’t know where to start, here are a few suggestions.
• Green environments
o Rain forests
o Bamboo shoots
• Animals in the wild
• Running water from a creek or a brook
• Birds chirping
• Leaves rustling in the wind
When I was stressed out or had anxiety, I would go to this little creek behind my house and just listen to the water running over the rocks (I still do from time to time).
After about 10 minutes of standing there and enjoying the sounds of the water while deep breathing, I found myself more centered and more at peace with the situation that was going on. I hope too, you can find that peace from your stress.
*Side note, I also enjoy gardening and maintaining 5 fish tanks.
During my most stressful moments, I found that writing out my frustrations and what was bothering me down on paper. Actually, this is how I began my blog. Free writing is a great way to really analyze what is actually bothering you.
Keeping a journal also allows you to write what you may want to say to someone else without hurting anyone’s feelings or saying something you don’t actually mean out of anger.
Writing doesn’t have to be all negative. It is said that writing down what you are grateful for (gratitude) helps relieve stress. Another topic to think about is, if you are in a stressful or toxic situation, write down goals on how to remove yourself from that situation.
Writing SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and timely) goals are always effective in planning things out.
Other positive ways to write is to write inspiration to yourself or to family members. Write notes to yourself telling yourself how special you are, how you are going to have a great day today.
Write notes to loved ones telling them how much they meant to you. There’s always something to write and it’s quite inexpensive to do. All you need is a pen and paper, and your thoughts.
Eliminate Stress in Your Life
Quit that job that you hate. I’m just kidding. Of course, there are some things that cause us stress we can’t get rid of but getting rid of the stress triggers in your life can help significantly reduce your stress levels. Getting rid of things that cause you stress can give way to experience peace. This may not always be as easy as it sounds, especially if it comes to relationships with people, but it will help in the long run.
Summing It Up
Different types of stress can affect our lives on a regular basis. Some can get stressed out more than others, but ultimately, it can affect our lives in a grave way. Finding out what type of stress we are suffering from is the first start in our journey, the next step is to find the help we need or different ways to manage our symptoms.
There are many ways to manage and relieve stress. You can choose one or five different ways to relieve stress as long as they fit into your schedule, personality and your lifestyle. I wish you all the best of luck in finding the right stress relief strategy that works for you and in your journey to living a stress-free lifestyle.
Stay tuned for more mental health help!
Stress is that feeling we get when we have to meet almost impossible deadlines at work. It’s the feeling we get when we have an overwhelming workload either at work...
Stress is a feeling we get when we are struggling with change or trying to cope with new challenges. These challenges can range from finances, work, relationships, family matters and...
Mental health and physical health are often viewed differently, when reality is, they are one in the same. Explore the ways that fitness and mental health intertwine together and ways...
The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author and are intended for educational purposes only. Self Verve is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. Be sure to contact your physician before trying any of the items stated in the above article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. Self Verve does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.