8 Quick Ways to Reduce Stress
If you caught my recent post on staying healthy during the holidays, you know that reducing stress is one of the best ways to fight off colds and the flu. In addition, reducing stress translates into a slimmer waist, more energy, and younger-looking skin.
Clearly, getting a handle on your stress is a big deal. However, when I tell people to make de-stressing part of their daily health routine, here’s what they frequently say: “Meditate? Do yoga? My life is so crazy that some days I barely have time to brush my teeth!” And that’s especially true during the holidays. What’s the solution? If you can’t find half an hour on a busy day to reduce your stress, there are ways to do it even faster. Here are eight simple tricks for lowering your stress almost instantly:
- Pet your dog or cat. Spending even a few minutes of quality time with your fur baby lowers your cortisol levels and increases your levels of “feel-good” hormones including oxytocin, prolactin, and serotonin.
- Drink a cup of tea. You can do this while you work—and it’ll lower your cortisol levels and make you feel more relaxed.
- Harness the power of lavender. Rub some lavender oil on your bedposts, enjoy lavender aromatherapy, or take a bath in lavender-scented bath salts. Simply breathing the scent of lavender can reduce your blood pressure and heart rate.
- Even a few dozen deep, slow breaths can ease your stress significantly. For more stress-busting power, close your eyes as you breathe and visualize something calming—for instance, a flower garden or fish swimming in a tank.
- Play your favorite tunes. When you’re cleaning the house, cooking dinner, or running errands, turn on some background music. Listening to tunes you love can dramatically lower your stress levels.
- Focus on your senses. For a few minutes, pay attention to what you see, the aromas you smell, the sounds you hear, and even the taste of a meal or a cup of coffee. This will help you center yourself in the present, calming your mind.
- Watch a funny video, check out a silly Internet site, or read a few pages of a book that makes you chuckle. Laughter is one of the fastest and most effective ways to reduce your stress, and it may help your immune system fight off infection.
- Do a mini-workout. Take five or ten minutes to do some squats, lift some weights, and do some stretches. Even a small dose of exercise will help to calm and invigorate you.
All of these quick tricks can help you cut stress down to size during the holidays—and better yet, they won’t take a big bite out of your schedule. So give them a try on those hectic days when you’re running from morning until night. Then, on the days when you have more time, work in some meditation, yoga, or tai chi. Remember: lower stress equals a happier, healthier, and slimmer you for the holidays!