I Just Want Relief from My Stress: 15 Quick Ways to Ease Your Tension

By Sejal Shah 

Are you in the state of “I just want relief from my stress”? Try any of these 5 minute (or less) stress busters to ease your tension today.

Who is not stressed or has never experienced it? For the majority of us, life can be stressful. At one point or another, many of us will have experienced that sense of being overwhelmed, as if everything were just too much and beyond our capacity to handle it. This sense of overwhelmedness, known as stress, can create havoc in our bodies and in our lives if not dealt with in a timely and proper way. 

Why am I getting so stressed?

Stress can mean different things to different people. What causes stress to one person could be of little concern to someone else. Some people can handle stress better than others.

Stress can be defined as the degree to which you feel overwhelmed or unable to cope as a result of unmanageable pressures.

So basically stress occurs when you cannot cope with the pressures that life brings on you. You can tell you are stressed when you feel that there is too much going on in your life, you have too much on your plate and you don’t have enough energy and time to deal with all that. If you had more time and energy, probably the same situation would not cause you stress. It would be very beneficial for you to learn skills to deal with these 2 factors of stress: time and energy. 

How do you respond to stress?

Internally, we all respond the same way to stress - the “fight-or-flight” stress response: your blood pressure rises, your heart rate becomes faster, you breathe faster, your pupils may dilate, your skin may become pale or flushed, your muscles constrict, and your mind races too fast. Externally, however, people respond to stress in different ways: some people become angry, agitated, overly emotional, or restless. While others tend to become depressed, withdrawn, go into their cocoon, or become “spaced out”.

A Harvard publication explains, “The term "fight or flight" is also known as the stress response. It's what the body does as it prepares to confront or avoid danger. When appropriately invoked, the stress response helps us rise to many challenges. But trouble starts when this response is constantly provoked by less momentous, day-to-day events, such as money woes, traffic jams, job worries, or relationship problems.”

When there is an actual stressful situation or threat, you may experience acute stress, and that is ok. But when stress level starts building up and it becomes chronic stress (long term stress), then it starts creating serious problems. It needs to be addressed properly.  

How to get quick stress relief in five minutes or less? 

Taking care of your long-term mental and physical health is an important part of stress management. However, when the stress is in the air, you need some relaxation techniques to quickly ease your tension. Here are 15 ways to get stress relief in five minutes or less. From meditating to eating a piece or two of dark chocolate, there is a quick stress-relieving tip and trick for everyone.

1. Breathe: The way you breathe affects your whole body, and mind too. Deep breathing and many other breathing exercises are a great way to relax, reduce tension, and relieve stress. Let me quote here the American Institute of Stress (AIS), “At AIS we are often asked, “What is the best way to relieve my stress and relax?” Our typical answer includes an explanation that just as the definition of stress is different for everyone, so are “the best” stress reduction techniques. However, one “Super Stress Buster” evokes the relaxation response that we widely recommend as useful for everyone- even kids. Can you guess what it is? BREATHING! That is right, simply breathing. It is free and can be practiced anywhere- I bet you are even breathing right now! The key, of course, is focused breathing.” 

AIS endorses and certifies three breathing techniques namely Quieting Response, Sudarshan Kriya or SKY, and Teddy Bear Breathing that can be useful for progression in mastering your breathing, reconnecting your body and mind, and stopping the stress response. Try this quick straw breathing technique now and feel the difference right away.

2. Stretch: According to Mayo Clinic, “Yoga is considered one of many types of complementary and integrative medicine approaches. Yoga brings together physical and mental disciplines that may help you achieve the peacefulness of body and mind. This can help you relax and manage stress and anxiety.” Here are 15 top poses to relieve stress and how they actually help. Try one now. 

3. Meditate: Meditation is fast gaining status as a stress management mainstay as it brings so many wonderful benefits. With consistent practice, meditation also boosts your resilience against future stressors! Many people shy away from learning meditation because they think meditation is difficult or they don’t have time to practice regularly. Actually, meditation can be very simple to learn, and even 5 minutes of meditation can make a huge difference.  There is research that just two quick seatings of meditation per day can relieve stress and depression. Find a comfortable spot in a quiet place, close your eyes, breathe gently with awareness, and feel your stress start to dissolve. If you have a little more time, try this guided meditation for stress relief as guided by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

4. Sing and dance: “Whether you have the voice of a songbird or sound like some ball-bearings in a blender, singing can have some remarkably positive effects”, says BBC. Singing also engages what is potentially the body’s greatest stress-reliever – breathing. Dancing is also an effective outlet for emotional expression, stress reduction, and creativity. Just get up and start singing and dancing as if no one is watching you and you will find yourself in a great mood again. 

5. Listen to soothing music: If you are in a public place and not in a position to sing and dance, put your headphones on and listen to your favorite soothing instrumental music. My favorite is the flute, what is yours? 

6. Eat dark chocolate: According to WebMD, “Researchers found that eating the equivalent of one average-sized dark chocolate candy bar (1.4 ounces) each day for two weeks reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol as well as the “fight-or-flight” hormones known as catecholamines in highly stressed people.” Have you tried this Ayurveda-infused, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, gluten-free dark chocolate by Elements Truffles? Yummmm....!!!

7. Sip green tea: Again research suggests that low-caffeine green tea can help you deal with stress and anxiety. Furthermore, it also suggested that ingestion of LCGT significantly improved sleep quality and reduced subjective fatigue on Monday morning. So grab a cup of your favorite LCGT and start sipping now!

8. Talk to a friend: When something’s bothering you, it can help share your feelings with a buddy or coworker or a family member you trust. Discussing more substantial matters could boost happiness since deeper conversations seem to help people connect with others and find meaning in their own lives.

9. Have a cold shower: People with the habit of swimming in cold water and taking cold showers coincidentally reported improved mood, less stress, more energy, and pain relief from rheumatism. So what are you waiting for? Just stand below your cold shower for 2-3 minutes and see if that helps you! Just make sure that the water is not freezing cold. It should be comfortably cold. 

10. Go out for a quick walk: When you’re feeling overwhelmed or having trouble focussing, go for a quick stroll around the block and get some fresh air and blood circulating well. According to Prevention, “Many experts cite its ability to trigger the release of endorphins, potent brain chemicals that relieve pain and stimulate relaxation. Simply put, the higher your level of endorphins, the greater your sense of calm and well-being. No wonder walking can make you feel so good.” So wear your shoes, and step out now. 

11. Laugh: There is a popular proverb, laughter is the best medicine! And indeed it is. Just laugh your belly out and throw your stress away! Try this laughter yoga session now, fake it till you make it!

12. Be grateful: According to Behavioral Health, “When we express gratitude, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin, the two crucial neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions, and they make us feel ‘good’. They enhance our mood immediately, making us feel happy from the inside. By consciously practicing gratitude every day, we can help these neural pathways to strengthen and ultimately create a permanent grateful and positive nature within ourselves which builds our inner strength to combat stress.” Pick up your notebook and pen and enjoy writing your gratitude journal for the next five minutes.  

13. Play with your pet: Spending some time with your pet may help reduce stress and improve your mood. Pets can give you a sense of purpose, keep you physically active, and provide an emotional bonding — all these can help reduce stress and anxiety.

14. Say no: Not all stressors are within your control, but many are. Juggling many responsibilities can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Learning to say “no” more often can help you manage your stress if you find yourself taking on more than you can handle. Learn the skill of how to politely say no and be selective about what you take on.

15. Try aromatherapy: Research suggests that inhaling certain essential oils such as lavender can quell stress and anxiety, possibly by igniting the smell receptors in your nose to send soothing signals to your brain. Stock up good quality lavender essential oil, inhale, and let go of the stress! 

Learn SKY Breath Meditation and upgrade your resilience against stress

As mentioned before breathing is a key to reducing stress and SKY Breath Meditation is one of the most effective empowering tools to have in your stress management toolkit. It will not only help you relieve stress but it will boost your resilience towards stress. This is so important so that we don’t get bogged down by all the little things. This 20-minute practice has helped millions across the world to enhance their capabilities to tackle stress. The effect starts from the 1st session of your practice. Here is what Professor Ronnie Newman, a Harvard-trained researcher has to say about SKY and its effect on anxiety and stress relief.  

Join a Beyond Breath, a free online introductory session on SKY, and try some breath work and guided meditation today! Start your journey to a stress-free life, you deserve it! 

You may not have control over your stressors, but you definitely can develop some effective stress management skills. The more skills and tools you have, the better you will be equipped to deal with any kind of stress. We hope that this article will help you make your life easier! Take care. 

Sejal Shah, E-RYT 500 Sri Sri Yoga Teacher, YACEP, C-IAYT, Meditation Teacher, SKY Instructor, NYU Post Graduate Medical School approved Yoga-CME retreat facilitator, Mind-Body Wellness Writer, Homeopath. She can be followed on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

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