It's easy to get bogged down with responsibilities at work and home, but we all know that stress can have negative effects on our health, leading to issues such as headaches, back pain, digestive problems and fatigue. So, having a handful of techniques accessible to you in moments where you're feeling overwhelmed can lead to greater happiness in the long run. Dr. Pamela Peeke recommends these six tips. Pick one or try all of them to find out what works for you.
Tips for Relieving Stress from Dr. Pamela Peeke:
1. Sip on herbal tea. The use of teas and tinctures to treat health conditions dates back thousands of years. I recommend calming teas like valerian or chamomile. Brew the tea, sit in a quiet, cozy spot, and just sip as you listen to the silence and feel your body unknot. Learn more.
2. Practice deep breathing. You probably don't worry much about how you're breathing (as long as you're still breathing!), but too many women (and men) are shallow breathers. We don't take the kind of deep, diaphragmatic breaths needed to trigger the relaxation response. So the next time you feel your shoulders tightening and your stomach clenching, stop whatever you're doing and just take a few slow, deep breaths. Learn more.
3. Get a pet. Numerous studies find that playing, snuggling, even petting a dog or cat reduces levels of anxiety. Bet you never thought of your golden retriever as an alternative therapy before!
4. Listen to some soft music. There's a reason they play New Age music in spas: the soothing sounds of water falling or a gently strummed guitar enables relaxation. If you're not into New Age, how about classical? In one study of 143 women undergoing breast biopsies, women who listened to classical music during the procedure reduced their levels of anxiety as much as women who took a prescription anti-anxiety medication. Another study found that music therapy reduced anxiety and improved sleep in a group of women at a domestic abuse shelter.
5. Relax your muscles - one at a time. This is called progressive muscle relaxation. Start at your toes and tense and relax each muscle, systematically moving up your body. Many studies show this simple relaxation works wonders in reducing anxiety and stress hormones. One even found that women with breast cancer who practiced progressive muscle relaxation were significantly less anxious, depressed and hostile than women who didn't and had considerably less nausea and vomiting both before and after their chemotherapy. Learn more.
6. Meditate. Meditation is not about chanting; it is about being in the moment, which is much more difficult to do than it sounds. Or, as one author put it, "The art of being serene and alert in the present moment, instead of constantly struggling to change or to become." I recommend you take a class or join a meditation group to learn, and then practice, practice, practice. Learn more.
What do you do to relieve stress? Please share below.
Learn seven more ways to sideline stress, or try:
Visualization to Relieve Stress
3 Simple Stress-Busters
Stretching to Relieve Stress