When was the last time you felt stressed? If you’re anything like me, probably like 10 seconds ago…maybe 20. Tons of studies have found constant stress is – you guessed it – not good for your body. Relying on loads of anti-stress medications is not much better. If you find yourself stressed basically all the time, you need to adopt some methods of sending the stress away so you can actually relax. Here are 27 of my favorite all-natural ways to COMPLETELY de-stress:
- Visualize happiness. This one requires quiet, so send your barking dog out to the backyard for a few minutes. Sit in a comfortable spot and think about something that makes you happy. Maybe it’s what actually motivates you to do the tough things in life—the family you work hard for, the memories of trips you’ve taken to far-off places, the constancy of the sunrise you see upon waking. Once you’ve conjured up that image in your head, allow yourself to stay there for a couple minutes. Fresh out of ideas? Picture a little something from this spunky list.
- Try dry skin brushing. This technique is supposed to feel like a massage…but you can do it yourself (and save lots of money—which probably lowers your stress too). All you need is a special brush. Start at your feet and move up towards your face. The idea is to follow the circulatory system. For a step-by-step guide to dry skin brushing, go here.
3. Take a bath. Seriously, when did you last spend uninterrupted time in the bath (without having to wrestle your toddlers into the tub)? Grab some bath bombs and a good book or podcast and let yourself fully relax. If you don’t have time for a bath and you want to invite calming brain waves, reach for Hapbee’s Relax signal. Get it now at https://hapbee.com/ (more info to come, so keep reading!)
4. Chew gum. If you’re in Singapore, skip this one (chewing gum is illegal there—and therefore stress-inducing). If you’re anywhere else, pick up a pack of gum on your next run to the store. According to one study, chewing gum can reduce stress by as much as 16%. This is the perfect solution for you if you don’t have any time to take a break from whatever is making you feel stressed. Just pop a piece of gum in your mouth, chew for a few minutes, and watch the stress begin to subside. Looking for the gum with the longest-lasting flavor? Get the facts here.
5. Learn acupressure. Not to be confused with acupuncture (needles!), acupressure is an ancient Chinese technique that emphasizes massaging pressure points to relieve stress and tension. Download the Acupressure: Heal Yourself app for easy instructions on how to do acupressure on yourself or a friend. It’s totally safe—just don’t press too hard if you’re sore.
6. Buy a plant. Not just for millennials and grandmas, okay? And no, it doesn’t have to be a succulent (though that would be perfect for your Instagram grid). Even if you live in a tiny studio apartment without a balcony, get yourself a plant. And if you want to kill twice as much stress with a single plant, buy one with a particularly soothing smell. These are the plants that relieve stress the most.
7. Count. You probably haven’t counted out loud since you were 5 years old, but counting can actually distract your mind and help you focus on your breathing. Don’t believe me? Test it out. And if you want to give yourself a bit of a challenge and exercise your mind while you de-stress, try counting in other languages. For a starter kit, go here. See how many languages you can get a taste of!
8. Hug or kiss someone. Maybe it sounds too good to be true, but getting a hug or a kiss can actually help you relax if you’re feeling anxious. Find a person you trust and hug it out. You’ll be surprised how much better you feel afterwards. To discover more unexpected benefits of frequent hugs, check out this research from Carnegie Mellon.
9. Get out of town. It’s not always possible to slip away when you’re stressed, but it does make a difference. Work some vacay time into your regular schedule so you always have a break to look forward to. Whether it’s simply driving to a sleepy nearby town and walking around for a couple hours or flying to Bali for a couple weeks, treat yourself—you deserve it. Take advantage of this list of the most peaceful travel destinations in the world.
10. Test out red light therapy. Picture yourself going into a lit-up chamber—and no, it’s not a time machine. That’s one of the ways you can experience red light therapy, which involves a panel of LED lights that emit red and infrared light. Alleged benefits include stress relief, pain alleviation, skin care, mental health improvement, tissue regeneration, autoimmune disease treatment, and more. Fortunately, red light therapy is becoming more affordable and available for you to do at home. Here are some of the best biohacking devices for red light therapy.
11. Unplug. Taking a wild guess here. Is your phone making you more stressed? Constant notifications, unanswered messages, missed calls…it’s no wonder that tiny companion you always carry around in your pocket amps up the stress level. Try to have at least one or two hours per day when you consistently and completely unplug. Maybe it’s when you wake up in the morning or right before you go to sleep. Take that time to meditate, read a book, spend quality time with your partner (or pet), or take a walk. For more tips on how to have a healthy relationship with your phone, click here.
12. Borrow a trick from naam yoga. You won’t believe how easy this is. Business psychologist and author Sharon Melnick shares her secret to quickly becoming utterly calm. Trace your middle finger with your thumb until you find an indented spot almost at the point where your finger meets your hand. Apply medium pressure to trigger a nerve that loosens up the area surrounding your heart. For further instructions and other naam yoga tricks, read this.
13. Clip on Spire. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could sense exactly when your body is starting to feel stressed so you can try to prevent it? That’s what Spire, a wearable that tracks your breathing patterns, purports to do. Clip it onto your belt or bra and get feedback from the Spire app, which tells you when you’re tense and offers breathing exercises. Get Spire here.
14. Practice gratitude. If you find your mind spiraling into anxiety about the future, this is the perfect way to chase it all away. Focus on what you’re grateful for in the present moment. Maybe it’s something as basic as your cozy bed or your good health, or perhaps it’s something as special as the drawing your child made for you or the encouraging words a friend gave you. Work some of these gratitude exercises into your daily routine and experience a shift to a more relaxed mental state.
15. Organize. If there’s one thing that makes you more stressed when you’re already overwhelmed, it’s not being able to find your wallet or your favorite interview shirt amidst the chaos. Take time to organize the clutter so you have the physical and emotional space to stay calm no matter what happens. Go here for some office organization inspiration.
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16. Include margin in your calendar. While it seems almost impossible to do in our pedal-to-the-metal culture, it’s critical to build some margin into your calendar. Have a meeting at 3pm? Don’t schedule a dentist appointment at 4:30. Getting home from a business trip late Tuesday night? Don’t plan to meet an important client at 7am on Wednesday. You’ll be able to focus more on the present moment without constantly worrying about what’s coming next. Not sure it’s worth it? Read this.
17. Turn on classical music. Although it’s not everyone’s favorite, classical music is a great aid for reducing stress. Play it while you’re stuck in traffic or working on a difficult project. If you really can’t stand classical music, the good news is other soothing music can help with stress as well. Dive into this research for more astonishing benefits of music.
18. Try progressive muscle relaxation. The best part about this practice is you can do it anywhere, in your desk chair or waiting in line at the grocery store or lying awake in your bed, and no one will even know! Focus on attending to each of your muscles, starting with your feet and slowly working up to your face. Tighten each muscle and then relax it. Watch this short video for tips as you’re getting the hang of it.
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19. Eat a banana. This nutritious snack does more than just give you an energy boost. The potassium in bananas is thought to regulate blood pressure, which increases when you’re stressed. Potatoes are high in potassium as well, though perhaps not as convenient as bananas tend to be. Don’t miss this list of other stress-relieving foods.
20. Download a meditation app. While meditation is certainly not a modern concept, technology makes it more convenient than ever before. Using a de stress app such as Headspace and Inscape allows you to feel your mind and body unwind in the midst of any difficult situation—or just at the end of a long day. Go here for the top meditation apps of 2020.
21. Use essential oils. Don’t let your skepticism of natural health trends get in the way of benefitting from the calmness invited by essential oils. Select a soothing essential oil of your choice and place some on your temples or behind your ears. If you have sensitive skin, be sure to dilute it with a carrier oil such as coconut oil or sunflower seed oil. You can also make use of a diffuser to experience essential oils aromatically. Click here for the best calming essential oils.
22. Invest in an emWave2. This fancy device is perfect for biohacking stress. Using a pulse sensor, it tracks your heartbeat and teaches you how to slow it down. It also includes some games that claim to slow your heart rate. You can use emWave2 while working or doing other tasks. Order it here.
23. Enjoy nature barefoot. Whether it’s a walk on the beach or through a grassy field, nature is soothing to the soul. When you feel anxious, get outside and taste the fresh air. Extra points for being barefoot. Here’s other important ways being in nature is exactly what your body needs.
24. Read. Did you know research has found that reading for only six minutes can reduce stress by as much as 68%? If you’re in the middle of a huge work project, chances are you’re not considering taking a reading break. But reading just a couple pages can ease your mind and help you increase productivity in a way you can’t if you’re too caught up in your own anxieties. Looking for a good read? Check out this list of the best books of the 21st century so far.
25. Treat yourself to a Brookstone massager. If a 90-minute massage isn’t in your budget, try out the Brookstone Max 2 Percussion Massager. This handheld massager is easy to use and relaxes your muscles in minutes. Another option is the Brookstone Cordless Shiatsu Massager with Heat, which is smaller and intended to target certain areas (neck, back, etc.) for stress relief.
26. Forgive yourself. Have you noticed the same debilitating thoughts churning around in your head? Regrets, mistakes, should-haves, guilt…it’s time to heal. For some of us, it’s easier to forgive others than to forgive ourselves. But that’s the only way to deal with the anxiety that comes from self-doubt and release your mind from the crippling cycle. For more ways to de-stress, go here.
27. Find your inner Calm with Hapbee. This is the ultimate neural headset that calms you down when your stress level is rising. Turn on Hapbee’s Calm signal to settle your mind when your thoughts are racing. Use it to prepare for a meditation or yoga session—or to simply come down from a long day of work. Hapbee mimics a relaxant to let you unwind and chill out without any substances or contaminants. Don’t live a stressed out life when Calm is at your fingertips. Order now: https://hapbee.com/
See what psychologists are saying about Hapbee here.