With all of the stressful situations in the world today, one of the most needed things we can incorporate into our lives is stress reduction techniques.
11 Quick and Easy Ways to Reduce Stress
Has Anyone Felt Stressed lately?
Raise your hand if you’ve been feeling stressed. On today’s episode, I get to talk to you about 11 stress relieving tactics I have used to feel more relaxed and less stress in my life. My life has been crazy lately, and I’m sure yours has been too.
Welcome to another episode of Tamara’s Takeaways. Last week, I had the opportunity to interview Abel Keogh. And he lost his wife when he was very young in their marriage. But one of the things Abel commented on was one of the things that got him up and out of bed when he was stressed and grieving was this pull to get up and run. That was one of the things in his routine. And it was something that helped him, get up, get moving and process the stress one more day.
An Interesting Realization
I had an interesting thing happen yesterday. I have an accountability call with a few fellow authors every Monday morning, and we report how we did last week with our goals and we talked about our goals for the next week. But I told my fellow authors, “I have been feeling an extraordinary amount of stress lately. Then I asked, “How many of you have been feeling stressed?” Almost every hand went up. And what surprised me about that was that so many people are under an extreme amount of stress, not only with the pandemic going on and the racial violence and rioting going on. Every time you turn around, there seems to be one more challenge one more complication. And this doesn’t even include the challenges we’re having in our own personal lives, with our families, and relationships. So there is a lot of stress prevalent right now.
And I found that in the last couple of weeks with this burden of stress, I’ve had to start consciously thinking of and working on ways that I can personally relieve stress–just like Abel found running as one of his go-to outs to relieve stress.
So today I’m going to give you 11 ways I have proven over the last many years of my life which have helped me relieve stress. Some of them you may have used before and some of them you may not have ever used before. So I hope that they will be helpful to you in the stresses that you are encountering on a daily basis. Please share them with friends who are stressed out as well.
11 Ways to Relieve Stress
Tip #1. Prayer
“We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.” ~ Oswald Chambers
Prayer is not new. It’s been around since Adam and Eve. Praying can help us develop a relationship with God who will guide us and help us through any challenge or stress we may face in life. Prayer gives us the opportunity to express gratitude, but to also invite God’s Spirit into our lives. And having the Spirit can help us maybe think of ways to manage stressful situations in our lives that we maybe hadn’t thought of before. The great thing is because God is smart and all-knowing, He can help us with these things.
Max Lucado said, “Don’t worry about having the right words; worry more about having the right heart. It’s not eloquence he seeks, just honesty.”
I have found solutions to problems just in the last couple weeks to challenges that I’ve been facing. Ideas will just pop into my brain, maybe not praying, but later in the day in a quiet moment. So pray.
Tip #2. Prioritize Exercising
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” ~ Jim Rohn
When I have stress, it seems I feel it like big ball in my stomach area. It’s almost like this hard rock of energy that I need to get out of my body.
I woke up Monday morning feeling particularly stressful. And since I was up before everybody else, I thought, I have got to pray and I’ve got to go run. And I’m not a runner guys–I walk.
I’ve never been a runner, but this ball stress in my stomach was so big that I knew I needed to run. So I grabbed our dog, and took him for a jog (because Tamara doesn’t run). So I jogged for 50 yards and then I walk for a little bit. Then I caught my breath and jogged for another 50. And this simple act of jogging sporadically helped me so so much to get rid of the stress ball in my stomach.
So exercising doesn’t always mean going to the gym, you can do yoga, you can walk, you can run. And the cool thing about exercise is it produces endorphins, which naturally improve your mood immediately. So if you’re feeling stressed or anxious, or depressed, exercising really helps.
Help with Major Depressive Disorder
I had the opportunity yesterday to talk to a dear friend who has struggled with major depressive disorder for probably at least two decades. And she mentioned both prayer and exercising. And she says there are a days she doesn’t want to get out of bed but she tells herself, “You are worth it. Get up and exercise every day.” Sometimes it’s too hot where she lives. So she has a little tiny trampoline in her room, and she will roll out of bed and make herself bounce on that little trampoline for at least five minutes. She says it really does help her get up, get dressed, get moving, and that really does help improve her mood.
Tip #3. Physical Touch
“I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.” ~ Maya Angelou
And I know that touching people during Coronavirus is bad and taboo. But we all need physical touch. So hopefully you have a friend or family member you can pat on the back, touch or hug.
I know that just giving my husband a hug a couple of times a day that I just feel like I melt when I’m in his arms. I can physically feel the stress pouring off my shoulders off my body. There really is something amazing about physical touch. Another cool thing I found out about physical touch or hugging is that when you hug someone, a hormone called oxytocin is released. This hormone is associated with higher levels of happiness and lower levels of stress. How’s that? So give somebody a pat on the back, hug a friend and relieve stress at the same time.
Tip #4. Aromatherapy
“Aromatherapy is extremely useful. If you want to go to sleep at night, and you have an aroma that calms your mind, it will help you sleep.” ~ Deepak Chopra
I’ll be honest, this is not a tip I had ever really I thought of for stress reduction. But I tried it for the first time the other day. As I was researching stress relieving tactics, I saw aromatherapy and I thought, I wonder if it helps? I’ve never tried it.
I happen to have like a little diffuser, I like the scents that you can put in there and just add a little bit of flavor to your room. So I googled what scents are popular with relieving stress and I found that a lot of citrus scents are associated with relieving stress. There are essential oils like:
- Bergamot (which is a hybrid between orange, lemon and lime).
- Yuzu (which is a Japanese citrus)
- Sweet Basil
- Clary Sage
My Experience with Aromatherapy
So I went over to my little diffuser, I filled it full of water, and I put a little bit of orange and frankincense in there. And I’ll be darned that just smelling the scents before I put them in the water, I really did feel less stressed. I felt more calm. Then I thought to myself, Holy cow! This works. Why am I not using this every day? So now that I have found out it works I will be using my aromatherapy diffuser more often.
Tip #5. Writing or Drawing
“Writing is thinking on paper.” ~ William Zinsser
The other day when I was super stressed, I sat down and I journaled. I began writing about why I felt so stressed. And what’s interesting is, as I wrote about it, I figured out some of the reasons why I was stressed.
Sometimes we feel stressed but don’t know why because there is so much going on that we just can’t think of the reason why. So sometimes slowing down and actually writing about it on a piece of paper (it doesn’t even have to be in a journal), can help us write teh stress out.
And sometimes even scribbling in the margins, doing little art or crayons or something like that has been proven to help reduce stress as well.
De-stressing Through Writing and Fire
I had an opportunity to do write about a stressful situation and then my mentor Richard Paul Evans told us to wad that up that piece of paper and burn it. And when I burned that pater, there was a huge release. It was so fun to take something stressful and actually just burn the piece of paper that I wrote about it on.
Caution: So if you do burn your stress on a piece of paper, be careful to do it in a safe place where you’re not going to catch anybody or anything on fire.
Tip #6. Leisure Fun
“It’s not a man’s working hours that is important, it is how he spends his leisure time.” ~ Marilynne Robinson
I am particularly guilty of not taking enough leisure time. I tend to be have my list, attack it with a fervor, and I’m usually so tired by the time I’m done that I don’t take time to do enjoyable things. So I’ve tried to make a conscious effort to to be better at this.
Just about a week and a half ago, my husband had the day off. And we took a day date and we went kayaking and it was so fun. It’s one of our favorite hobbies that we do together. It was so soothing to put our hands and feet in the water to paddle along, to be out in nature. And so making time for leisure activities that de-stress you is huge. When I came back from that activity just so relaxed and happy.
But find leisure activities, whether they be sports, or sewing or quilting, or whatever it is that you enjoy. Maybe it’s reading, just curling up and reading–find things that you really enjoy that de-stress you and make time for them. They are so important. It’s important to do something for you every day. And I’m pretty good about reading for myself every day because that’s like one of my favorite stress relievers. Books take me away a journey somewhere. So find some kind of leisure activity that will help you de-stress.
Tip # 7. Gratitude
“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~ Melody Beattie
And it’s true that gratitude helps us look at the past and be grateful for it, as she says, helps us bring peace for the day. So when you’re thankful it brings you peace. And it helps you create a vision for tomorrow. Surely, if I’ve gone through hard things in the past, I can feel peace today in my stressful times. I can look to the future with peace and love and gratitude.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
Boy isn’t that thought provoking? That we can be thankful for even the hardest times. And I found that to be true. The most stressful times of my life have taught me the most. And so as we find things to be grateful for every single day, it helps us to be happy and have less stress.
Benefits of Gratitude
Did you know that people who express gratitude are shown to have lower stress, a better mental health and a better quality of life? You can write gratitude in a journal. I like to at least write three things I’m thankful for every night in my journal. Or sometimes when I’m really tired, I just thank God for at least three things in my prayer.
Joni Emmerling, a wellness coach explains the benefits of gratitude this way, “Being grateful for your blessings cancels out negative thoughts and worries.”
Another benefit to writing down your things you’re thankful for is you can re-read and remember things to be grateful for when you’re having a particularly bad or stressful day.
Gratitude and Depression
One of the things when I was talking to that friend who has the major depressive disorder, she said that she tries to be thankful for at least three things every day as well. And that being grateful has blessed her. Because so many times when you have depression, or high amounts of stress, it’s hard to process and think of things you can possibly be thankful for. Because the things which drag you down seem so heavy and so weighty. And so actually pausing and thinking of things to be thankful for help pull her back into a more positive outlook on life. So this is something that’s proven not only with me but with hundreds and thousands of others.
Tip #8. Laughter
“A good laugh overcomes more difficulties and dissipates more dark clouds than any other one thing.” ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder
My husband is really cute. He has always been more of a jokester guy with a sense of humor. And one of the things that he likes to do every day is find funny memes that he saves. Then every night after our family scripture reading, my daughter says, “All right, dad, show us some funny memes.” And he’ll set and scroll through these memes and we will laugh together. This is a fun little tradition that he started because that is totally his personality, but it has blessed our family. In that we have a time when we can laugh together every single day and laughing does dissipate stress, it’s fantastic.
Benefits of Laughter
Do you know that laughter also releases endorphins, just like exercise? And the cool thing about endorphins is they can improve your mood and decrease the stress causing hormone of cortisol and adrenaline.
Medicine of Laughter in a Hospital Bed
So, another example of laughter being really a good medicine occured in 2001, after my husband and I were in a really bad car accident. I spent a week and a half in a hospital, was in a lot of pain, and was having trouble breathing. So I was in a hard situation. I wasn’t used to being stuck in a hospital bed. I liked being up moving but I just didn’t have the energy to do much at that point.
So my husband (bless his soul) brought me some VHS tapes of the Three Stooges. And I remember put it he put those videotapes in for me and I sat and watch The Three Stooges. Watching them made me laugh. And so I found that laughter–even in a hospital bed–can be very, very beneficial and it helps you de-stress. Laughter helps you not think about the pain that you’re in. It’s so helpful. So find a TV show, or a series or some funny memes or some comics that you can look at and read to help you get rid of stress.
Tip #9. Sunshine
“No matter how dark and gloomy it looks in your life right now, if you’ll release the weight of those burdens, you will see the sun break forth.” ~ Joel Osteen
Just yesterday, I went outside because I was feeling stressed and stood out in the sunshine in my backyard for probably about 10 to 15 minutes and it felt so good. I could just feel the stress pouring off me. This got me thinking, Does getting out in the sun help you relieve stress? So I came inside and I started doing some more research on this.
I found that medical professionals say getting 5 to 15 minutes of sunlight will help reduce inflammation, modulate cell growth, and contributes to better sleep, stronger bones, improved mood and lower blood pressure. So getting out in the sun really does help.
If it’s cloudy where you live, don’t worry, you can get either a light box or take a vitamin D supplement. So get de-stressed and get a little sun every day.
Tip #10. Hammocking
I bet you’re not expecting hammocking to be a stress relieving tip.
“My perfect day is constantly changing. Right now, it would be to lie around in a hammock reading with a portable phone and a table of food next to it. I would spend all day there.” ~ Eric Stoltz
When my eldest son went to college, he found just great joy and enjoyment in hammocking. I’d never heard of hammocking being a thing before but I guess it’s big on college campuses. Anyway, he brought his hammock at home and we began to use it. And we have been delighted with the results.
One day, over Christmas, we strung it up between two trees on a beach in Hawaii and just sat in the shade enjoying the beach. And ah, doesn’t that picture just paint de-stress for you?
So believe it or not, there are actual physical and emotional benefits to hammocking. People in South and Central America have been using hammocks to sleep in for centuries. Hammocks have been used to help with insomnia. They help you fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply. They improve blood circulation and blood pressure, get rid of toxins, improve mental health and even as therapy.
Our cute son Nathan who has autism had a hammock swing in his room for years. There were times we feared he would swing so hard, we were scared he would rip the hinge out of the ceiling. But he never did. Hammocks severe actually been used as therapy for especially children with autism or people with this vestibular or balance issues.
An interesting things about a hammocks you will get better sleep when you’re in a hammock rocking. And when you get better sleep, you feel better right? Swinging also helps improve your blood circulation, which can help clear congestion if you’ve got a cold, and it sure helps with stress reduction.
My Experience Hammocking
Just earlier today I went out on the back porch to have a snack and I sat in our hammock and just sat and swung. Sitting in the sun in a hammock, helped me relax. I could feel the stress just pouring out of your body. And before I knew it, my eyelids are drooping. And I almost fell asleep. So there’s something super relaxing that hammock. If you’ve never tried it before, it is fantastic. Here are links to the hammock that we have. Here is a link to the hammock stand we use.
Tip #11. Napping
“Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.” ~ Barbara Jordan
The National Sleep Foundation has found that naps helped you feel more alert, energized, enhance your motor skills and attention, zap your stress and boost your mood. So the more sleep you get the less irritable and stressed you are. That’s a kind of a no duh, right? But how many of us actually do it?
For me napping is good for my soul, and for the souls of those around me. I found that if I take a 20 minute power nap when I’m exhausted, I am reinvigorated and happier for the rest of the day. And hence, my family and friends around me are happier as well. So get a nap.
So those are my 11 tips for today. I’ve actually found many, many more so I’ll probably be doing a second podcast or course on stress relief tactics that I found which work.
Don’t forget these try a few of these tactics when you’re feeling particularly stressful: prayer, exercise, physical touch, aromatherapy, writing or drawing, leisure fun, gratitude, laughter, sunshine, hammocking and napping.
Alright guys, we have to conclude with a funny story about stress relief. About a year ago, I was feeling a particularly large amount of stress. And again, I had that kind of ball in my stomach where I just had that nervous energy which I needed to get out. The only problem was it was late at night.
My kids were totally laughing at me at how I decided to get the stress out of that point. I started walking up and down our stairs and the levels in our house. And I did this for 15 minutes until that stress ball in the middle of my stomach dissipated.
So sometimes if you’re stressed and you need to get that energy out, you can be creative and find solutions even within the walls of your own home: walking up and down the stairs, jumping in place, maybe you have a punching bag or punching pillow that you can punch the stress out on. So, find creative ways to relieve your stress during these stressful times and you can feel more reinvigorated and happy like me.
Today I’m doing so much better. I think I’m just gonna post a list on my wall of things that helped me relieve stress so that they are my go to things when I’m feeling particularly stressful. I hope this has been helpful to you. Have an awesome and blessed day.