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Top 30 Ways to Reduce Stress and Restore Balance

If you’re a living and breathing human being, you’ve undoubtedly experienced stress. It is a natural and unavoidable part of life. Our body’s stress response is actually a benefit since it enables us to recognize and escape stressful situations. Prolonged or chronic stress, however, can be detrimental to our physical and emotional health. If you don’t know how to effectively wind down after having a stressful day or facing a stressful situation, it’s time to get equipped with stress reducing self improvement techniques. Below are 30 ways to quickly reduce stress, thereby restoring balance to your mind and body. You may want to print this list and circle the stress busters that you will use. Nothing beats stress like being prepared to deal with it!

1. Visualization
Close your eyes and enjoy the stress reducing benefits of visualizing. Imagine yourself in the most relaxing place you can think of. A quiet beach, a nature trail, a beautiful island. See yourself there. Feel every pleasing sensation of the environment—a cool breeze, sand between your toes. Allow yourself to stay in this place for at least 10 minutes. You can run barefoot across the sand, relax in a hammock, or drink iced tea while lying in the sun. When you’re ready, come back to the real world feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.

2. Diaphragm breathing
Stressful situations generally lead us to take short, shallow breaths; however, this exasperates the effects of stress on the body. By breathing in deeply, feeling the diaphragm as it expands, you may immediately reduce stress and its side effects.

3. Comedy
There may be no better stress buster in the world than a good hearty laugh. Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones (cortisol and epinephrine) and increases the level of endorphins.

4. Relaxing massage
Treat yourself to a little pampering. It doesn’t matter if you opt for a professional massage or just have a friend to rub the tension from your neck and shoulders. Either way, it’s unlikely you can remain stressed during the process.

5. Sexual Healing
Because sexual frustration is a major stressor, it’s healthy to have an active sex life. If you’re not currently in a relationship that includes sex, masturbation is a great alternative. Orgasm dramatically increases the “happy chemicals” in your brain, so don’t hesitate to “get busy.”

6. Rock-a-bye
If you’ve ever rocked a baby to sleep, you understand the comforting sensation of rocking back and forth. If you don’t have a rocking chair, a swing in your local park may give the same stress-reducing effect.

7. Pet Therapy
Few things compare to the unconditional love of a pet. Studies show that engaging in activities with pets is helpful for reducing stress and even controlling blood pressure spikes.

8. Vitamin C
Vitamin C helps to prevent spikes in the stress hormone cortisol during stressful situations. Fresh fruit is best, but a glass of orange juice is also a good option.

9. Acupressure
Some of the best stress-reducing acupressure points are in the ears and forehead. Try giving yourself an ear rub, starting by using slight pressure on the ear lobe with your thumb and index finger. Move gently upward then downward to massage the entire ear. A similar technique is to place your thumb directly between your eyebrows. Apply pressure for a few seconds and then slide the thumb across your forehead and over each brow.

10. Lavender
This essential oil has an amazing calming effect. A few drops in the bath tub may be all it takes to increase your level of feel-good brain chemicals and relieve stress.

11. Affirmations
Telling yourself something positive is a wonderful way to take your mind off the things that are stressing you out. Use simple statements like, “All is well in my world” or “I deeply and completely love myself” to remind yourself that you are okay.

12. Go to the gym
These days many gyms have group exercise and Olympic size swimming pools in addition to standard workout equipment. Make use of it! If you usually just get on the treadmill, consider trying for Pilates, Zumba, or water exercises instead. Your stress level will subside as your body gets moving and your mind enjoys doing something new.

13. Music
Studies show that certain types of music are great for relaxing tense muscles and winding down from stressful situations. Make sure to choose tunes that are soft, melodic and soothing. Classical guitar is a personal favorite.

14. Hobbies
Gardening, collecting, fishing, and scrapbooking are a few of the many hobbies that aid in relaxation. The key is to find a hobby that’s enjoyable, thus your focus on it will naturally take your attention off your stress triggers.

15. Volunteering
Many of us feel wonderful when we do volunteer work to help others. As long as it doesn’t turn into an obsessive care-taking situation, helping other people or animals is a great way to reduce stress.

16. Hypnosis
Hypnosis can help you to achieve a deeply relaxed state that you may not be able to reach under normal circumstances. It can also help you to focus on stress busting life goals that you’ve been trying unsuccessfully to apply. If you’re like most people you can’t pay thousands of dollars to have someone hypnotize you, but many do-it-yourself hypnosis programs guarantee instant success.

17. Take a walk
Walking is a wonderful way to trigger the release of endorphins. It’s also a great way to rid yourself of agitating pent up energy that’s left in the body as part of the stress response.

18. Yoga poses
Yoga is a wonderful way to reduce stress; however, some of the poses are extremely difficult for beginners. If you’re feeling stressed, opt for a pose such as the Child’s Pose or the Corpse. These allow the body and mind to relax without the difficulty of stretching into an awkward position.  I often find that people are intimidated by Yoga studios, no worries, you can do it  at home, I recommend Shape Shifter Yoga!

19. Progressive Relaxation/Deep Muscle Relaxation
This method of reducing stress is one of the most powerful. To try it out, get completely comfortable. Now draw in the toes on your right foot. Feel the tension and hold it for about 10 seconds. Slowly release the tension by 50%, then another 50% as you concentrate on the tension flowing away as you relax. Do this one body part at a time with every muscle you can flex, from your feet and thighs to your neck and eyes.

20. Positive journaling
Although writing all of your feelings may be helpful, journaling about the positive aspects of your life is an even more impressive stress reducer. Look back over the course of your day and jot down at least 1 thing that you have to be thankful for. If you can, write 10 or even 20 statements of gratitude each day.

21. Prayer/Spirituality
Even if you don’t believe in God or the concept of prayer, you can opt to relieve stress by turning to a power higher than yourself. A spiritual connection is a wonderful reminder that you aren’t alone to deal with your stressors.

22. Puzzles
Sometimes the best way to relieve stress is to distract yourself. Puzzles are a wonderful way to do this. For the best results, pick a puzzle that has soothing colors or images that feel relaxing.

23. Go for the herbs
Kava Kava, Chamomile, Passionflower and other calming herbs can be ingested in tea form. These should be available at your local health food store.

24. Reduce caffeine
There’s nothing wrong with having a cup of coffee each day, but don’t overdo it. Excessive caffeine can raise your blood pressure and cause undue stress. Drinking water instead of a caffeinated beverage may quickly create a noticeable difference in your body’s stress level.

25. Warm Soak or Bath
Water is one of the most soothing elements for many people. Take at least 15 minutes to simply soak in warm water. The de-stressing effect may be intensified by using scented candles to light the bathroom.

26. Support system
When you’re so stressed out that you can’t seem to handle it by yourself, turn to your support system. This should include people who listen to you without judging and help without taking over.

27. Manicure/Pedicure
Your mind will release it’s responses to stress when you take the time to treat your body nice, so invest in a pampering session. If manicures and pedicures are too expensive in local spas, consider going to a beauty school for the relaxing treatment. By the way, this works wonders for both women and men.

28. Meditation or Chanting
Meditation is one of the most well-known relaxation techniques. If you find it difficult to stop your mind from wondering, guided meditation or chanting may be more effective. Holothink Deep Zen Meditation is my personal favorite.

29. Watch the sunset or gaze at the stars
Nature is something that everyone has access to, so it is a simple way to reduce stress. As you look into the sky to marvel at the magnificence of our world, it’s nearly impossible to maintain a high level of stress.

30. Arts and Crafts
Arts and Crafts may include coloring, drawing, painting, etc. The activity isn’t nearly as important as the time that you’re spending focused on something positive and non-stressful, so choose whatever you enjoy.