Stress Management Slideshow: 8 Ways to Decompress
Things seem to pile up, don’t they? And they seem to do so way too often. You’re plugged in, always ready to hear the ding of an email or the vibration of a text message signaling the next task to tackle. This is the new normal.
You’ve found ways to be productive. Mostly because there’s no alternative. But productivity doesn’t always equal happiness. Churning through task after task can allow stress to build up without release. And constantly being “on” can become overwhelming.
If that sounds familiar, you aren’t alone. The World Health Organization has called stress the “epidemic of the 21st century.” Research has shown that mismanaged or ignored stress can lead to serious issues.
But that doesn’t have to be your life.
Learning ways to decompress and finding stress-free moments in everyday life is important for long-term health. So how do you maneuver what’s next on the to-do list and discover ways to sneak a few necessary deep breaths?
There are plenty of avenues that have shown to be effective. And science backs them up in more ways than one. The slideshow below has eight stress management tips to help you decompress — because it’s vital to your everyday well-being.
1. Take a Break
In the moment, taking a break might seem like the last thing you want to do. You’re hardwired to power through the rigors of your responsibilities. But stopping and stepping away is crucial. That’s because even brief gaps are known to be stress-reducers.
So, lock your phone. Close your laptop. Get up from your desk. Take a walk outside. Dive into something else during your break. And “getting fresh air” isn’t just a catchphrase—taking some time outdoors is proven to help you decompress in your most needed moments.
2. Hear the Keys: Classical Music Helps
At first, it might seem a bit odd, but listening to classical music in times of stress helps soothe the mind. The tinkling piano keys and sweeping strings may help manage stress.
An experiment in 2000 in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine measured the effects of classical music on attention, relaxation, and stress responses. Those who listened to music after stress exposure reported more relaxation.
Another study showed that those who listen to classical music had significantly lower blood pressure levels than those who did not. The calming sounds aided in stress management and led directly to what everyone seeks: a bit of tranquility.
3. Limit Screen Time
Sounds impossible to break away from your screen, right? For most, it is. Your life is ingrained into every screen you own and operate.
It’s been shown that too much time staring at screens can lead to headaches and sleep issues. One report blames the light from backlit screens for interfering with the body’s natural ability to wind down before sleep. If your sleep is disturbed, it leads to more issues and can make it harder to deal with your everyday stressors.
Here’s a tip to help out: At night—at least two hours before bedtime—put the phone or tablet away.
4. Exercise to Change Things Up
If you’re having a tough time managing your stress, get your brain fixated on something else. And exercise is a great escape. That could be mean time spent on the elliptical machine or playing recreational sports with friends. Running for an allotted time gives you a break and produces endorphins (helpful hormones in your brain), too.
One study found exercise can reduce short-term stresses. It also helps you decompress ahead of the normal everyday life responsibilities you have after leaving the gym or field.
5. Talk it Out—But Listen, Too
Finding a way to clear the mind is a crucial part of everyday life. That’s because it’s a very important way to limit stress. And sometimes the best way to clear your mind is to let those stressful feelings spill out of your mouth. It’s a much better alternative than letting the stress and tension build up to unhealthy levels.
Talking it out is great, but focusing outside of yourself is important, too. Listening and helping others solve problems focuses your energy away from your stresses onto solutions. You’ll also get perspective on your life and the satisfaction of doing good. That’s why helping out a friend or loved one is a solid plan. Being a sounding board for those in your life who need a little guidance can go a long way—for you, and for them.
6. Eat Right, Feel Great
Mom was right. Less candy, more veggies. All the sugary or fatty, carb-filled comfort foods aren’t a long-term solution. But a well-balanced diet supports a healthy immune system, stable energy levels, and more pleasant overall demeanor.
One report declares that roughly 95 percent of receptors for serotonin (a chemical tied to happiness) are found in the lining of your gut. So, feed them. Don’t skip meals and treat yourself to healthy foods.
Also, if you’re looking for ways to decompress, cut back on caffeine. Limit coffee, energy drinks, and tea. Too much caffeine can spur anxious feelings and restlessness. Staying hydrated—6-to-8 glasses of water each day—is key, too.
7. Laugh it Up
Movies, shows, or jokes that get you chuckling go further than the initial gut-buster. That kind of joyful reaction is proven to be a positive for those battling various stresses. There’s no better way to decompress than laughing, or even smiling, for that matter.
A study showed that positive facial expressions influenced the body’s response to stress. Laughter has proven to shrink stress responses and stimulates your heart, lungs and body muscles.
8. Chew Gum. No, Seriously
A stick of gum can make a world of difference. And not just to mask what you ate for lunch.
An intervention study examined the effects of gum and work-related stress. It found that chewing gum at work and outside the workplace reduced anxious or down feelings, fatigue, and actually put people in a better mood. How about that? There’s no data yet on also blowing bubbles.
Start Using These Stress Management Tips
There are clearly plenty of ways to manage stress. You’ve just seen eight good ones. So, when you have those familiar stressful moments, remember that there are a number of different solutions. Bookmark this list so you have quick access to routine fixes—backed by scientific evidence—that can bring your everyday stress down a notch.