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7 Healthy Ways to Reduce Stress

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

Learning to be aware of and actively reduce your stress is an important part of wellness. Here's 7 healthy ways to reduce stress, and 6 of them are free!

1. Meditate

Woman in exercise clothing, seated meditating in modern living room

There are many free meditations available on YouTube. Here are a few of my favorites:

You may also enjoy this curated playlist of meditations that I use myself:

2. Aromatherapy

Closup of hand adding essential oil to wooden bowl of water with floating flower blossoms

Aromatherapy is a nice tool for stress relief because it has few known side effects. Preliminary research shows that aromatherapy can alter brain waves and behavior. Aromatherapy can reduce the perception of stress, increase contentment, and decrease levels of cortisol, the “stress hormone.” Different aromatherapy scents bring different effects in people.

Essential Oils can be used passively; you can fill a room with scent in a diffuser, use a roll-on personal topical diffusion, or in aromatherapy jewelry. They can be easily combined with other stress relievers (like massage or meditation, for example), for increased stress relief

I use Simply Earth Essential Oils. Their products are comparable quality to well known brands at a fraction of the cost. When you shop Simply Earth, 13% of our profits go to help fight human trafficking, to help people whose beauty has been abused.

We carry these products in the office if you would like to sample some blends. We also have the ability to custom blend essential oils & roller bottles for your personalized wellness.

3. Enjoy Nature

Older couple, holding hands on a walking path through nature

Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. It may even reduce mortality, according to scientists such as public health researchers Stamatakis and Mitchell. Research done in hospitals, offices, and schools has found that even a simple plant in a room can have a significant impact on stress and anxiety.

In addition, nature helps us cope with pain. Because we are genetically programmed to find trees, plants, water, and other nature elements engrossing, we are absorbed by nature scenes and distracted from our pain and discomfort.

Easy Ways to Enjoy Nature:

  • Parks: Even just sitting in the park, taking in the sights and sounds of nature

  • Walking/Hiking Paths: Getting active in nature reduces your overall stress. Providing your body with fresh oxygen and getting your blood pumping is sure to have a positive effect.

  • Video: If you can't get outside, even just viewing nature in video can be relaxing. Visit Youtube for Nature Relaxing Videos such as these:

4. Music

Smiling, ethnic person pointing at the headphones they are wearing

Music can have a profound effect on both the emotions and the body. Faster music can make you feel more alert and concentrate better. Upbeat music can make you feel more optimistic and positive about life. A slower tempo can quiet your mind and relax your muscles, making you feel soothed while releasing the stress of the day. Music is effective for relaxation and stress management.

So what type of music reduces stress the best? A bit surprising is that Native American, Celtic, Indian stringed-instruments, drums, and flutes are very effective at relaxing the mind even when played moderately loud. Sounds of rain, thunder, and nature sounds may also be relaxing particularly when mixed with other music, such as light jazz, classical (the "largo" movement), and easy listening music.

Since with music we are rarely told the beats per minute, how do you choose the relaxation music that is best for you? The answer partly rests with you: You must first like the music being played, and then it must relax you. You could start by simply exploring the music on this web page. Some may relax you, some may not. Forcing yourself to listen to relaxation music that irritates you can create tension, not reduce it.

It is important to remember that quieting your mind does not mean you will automatically feel sleepy. It means your brain and body are relaxed, and with your new calm self, you can then function at your best in many activities.

Here's a relaxing music station on YouTube for you try:

5. Breathing

Woman lying on back on yoga mat, with hands on belly and heart

By learning how to deep breathe properly, you will help to lower stress levels. Breathing exercies can be practiced at home or in the office, and take only a few minutes each day. While there are many types of breathing exercises to try, Belly Breathing is the most basic of the breathing methods we have at our disposal, and therefore is the one you should master first.

Belly Breathing

  • Sit down comfortably, or lay down on a yoga mat, depending on personal preference.

  • Place one hand on your stomach, just below your ribcage.

  • Place the second hand on the center of your chest.

  • Breathe in deeply through your nostrils and let your first hand be pushed out by your stomach. Your chest should remain stationary.

  • Breathe out through your lips, pursing them as if you were about to whistle. Gently guide the hand on your stomach inwards, helping to press out the breath.

  • Slowly repeat between 3 and 10 times.

  • Continue for as long as you feel necessary.

6. Exercise

Exercise increases your overall health and your sense of well-being, which puts more pep in your step every day. But exercise also has some direct stress-busting benefits.

Exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever. Being active can boost your feel-good endorphins and distract you from daily worries.

It pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps bump up the production of your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins.

It improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence, it can relax you, and it can lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise can also improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety.

Ways to Increase Your Exercise:

  • Yoga: One of the main concepts in yoga is being non-judgmental toward both yourself and others, which is a powerful tool for stress relief since much of our stress comes from us being hard on ourselves or frustrated with others. Yoga helps balance the connection between your body and mind.

Local Classes: Verve Movement Studio or Sol19

  • Stretching Video: POPSUGARFitness, GymRa

  • Walking: Taking regular 20-minute walks has also been found to mitigate fatigue and reduce tension. Whether it's a stroll in the park or a brisk power-walk around the neighborhood, make walking a part of your daily routine.

7. Massage

Massage Therapists hands on the upper back of a person

Massage is generally considered part of complementary and integrative medicine. It's increasingly being offered along with standard treatment for a wide range of medical conditions and situations. Studies of the benefits of massage demonstrate that it is an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension.

Beyond the benefits for specific conditions or diseases, some people enjoy massage because it often produces feelings of caring, comfort, connection and human touch.

I highly recommend the massage therapist that shares our offices:

Chārutā AhMaia of Self-Transformations:

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