Stress is everywhere. In the news, we are constantly hearing about disaster and death. Our jobs are getting busier; and now we’re being told that the work we do today might not even exist in 20 years, or it will be taken over by robots. For many, commuting to work is a stress. For others, getting home and seeing the bills pile up sets the heart racing and the shoulders tightening.
To feel stressed is a reality of the fast-paced world that most of us are living in. But even in the midst of this ‘stress storm’, here are five simple techniques you can use to help you de-stress.
1. Practice the Half Smile – During the day when you feel the adrenaline pumping and the blood rushing to your temples, try doing a half smile. The act of smiling releases our feel good neurotransmitters (dopamine, endorphin and serotonin). This not only activates your body’s relaxation response, but it can also lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
2. Breathe – At times of deep stress and anxiety, the simple act of noticing your breathing can have a powerful de-stressing effect. You can notice the air going in and out of your nostrils, or notice your tummy rising and falling. Whether you’re standing or sitting, you can always notice your breath. While you’re doing this, practise counting for five in and out breaths and see how you feel. It works even better if you have a half smile at the same time.
3. Exercise – The simple act of standing up from your desk and taking yourself off for a walk can lower your stress levels dramatically. Wherever you are, whether at home or at work, a 10-minute walk around the block can boost your endorphin levels and help you function better for the rest of the day.
4. Ask Questions – They say knowledge is power. It really is. If you don’t know something, it’s easy to worry and stress over imagined outcomes that may or may not occur. So, ask someone that does know: make the call; ask your boss; ring the doctor; and find out the answers to your questions.
5. Use Aromatherapy Oil – Have you ever walked into a room and felt immediately happy or at ease? You can create your own calming atmosphere with aromatherapy oils. Inhaling essential oils stimulates our olfactory system (the part of the brain connected to smell). Molecules that enter the nose or mouth through the air (from an aromatherapy diffuser) pass to the lungs, and from there, they go all around the body. As they reach our brains, they can affect our limbic system which is linked to our emotions. This can then subtly but positively affect our heart rate, blood pressure and breathing as well as reducing our stress levels and lifting our mood.
Try these simple de-stress techniques regularly and you’ll be able to negotiate this busy world more effectively and peacefully.