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5 Easy Ways to Reduce Stress

Posted December 22, 2015

When we’re stressed, hormones like cortisol flood our systems and produce the “fight or flight” response which spikes heart rate. We breathe more heavily and blood vessels constrict. Since our bodies can’t tell the difference between a life-threatening situation and a terrible traffic jam, our stress response is most often triggered when there’s no imminent danger. When this occurs repeatedly, the process contributes to chronic conditions and mental health concerns. We often don’t have a choice when it comes to getting stressed, but we can work to undo the effects. Here are 5 quick ways to keeping stress in check:

  1. Get Moving. The quickest way to relieve stress is to release endorphins through exercise. An easy way to do this is to shake your body. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, shoulders relaxed, and shake your whole body for a few minutes. If you have green space available, a 10-minute walk outside also works well to decompress.
  2. Guided Imagery. Ever heard the expression “Go to your happy place”? The body responds in essentially the same way to made-up imagery as it does real experiences. Take a few minutes to concentrate on positive, relaxing thoughts and images – it can be very effective for quickly relieving stress.
  3. Breathe Deeply. Take a 5-minute break and focus on breathing. Sit up straight, eyes closed, with a hand on your belly. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and work its way to the top of your head. Reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth.
  4. Laugh Out Loud. Laughter can reduce stress hormones, boost your immune system and lower blood pressure. Watch a funny video, learn a few new jokes, read some comics—whatever gets you laughing will help you feel instantly better.
  5. Embrace the Power of Touch. A warm, heartfelt hug can instantly make anyone feel relaxed. It’s also been found that kissing relieves stress by helping your brain release endorphins. So pucker up or give a few hugs to spread positive vibes and combat stress and anxiety. 

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