There is no denying that we lead stressful lives today. Work seems to be more demanding than ever before, and that’s without the pressures of family life added to the mix. It’s important that we all learn how to de-stress effectively. With that being said, continue reading to discover some strategies that you can use to lower your stress levels.

  1. Exercise – Regular physical activity will release the brain chemicals of serotonin and endorphins which act as natural painkillers and improve your mood. These chemicals will help lower your stress levels, improve your ability to sleep and assist in reducing symptoms of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.
  2. Create a positive inner monologue – We are all talking to ourselves a lot of the time via an inner speech, it’s called self-talk.  If your internal dialogue is negative then expect your confidence and self-esteem to be the same.  Your body is listening to your thoughts and they have a direct impact on how you feel. Developing a healthy habit of talking to yourself in positive and affirming ways will offset the stress from your external environment.
  3. Spend time with family and friends – A sense of connection in a fast-paced, demanding world is essential  in managing the stressors of life. Focusing energy on nurturing close connections helps develop secure attachments which in turn promote a sense of safety and support.  Safe, trusting relationships down-regulate healthy chemicals such as dopamine and oxytocin which have a calming effect on the nervous system and lift spirits up, whilst reducing the damaging effects of stress hormones.
  4. Laugh – Laughing is the perfect medicine when it comes to stress. It boosts the immune system, relieves physical tension and leaves you feeling relaxed for up to 45 minutes after a good belly laugh.  Laughter therapy can help us to rid ourselves of fear and pain whilst increasing the immune cells, decreasing stress hormones and building up more infection-fighting antibodiesFocus on more fun, with more laughter and notice the difference in how you feel.
  5. Learn to say No – If you find yourself saying ‘yes’ all of the time then you will inevitably feel stressed from taking on too much.  Are you a ‘goodist’? Someone who has to do good all the time even to the detriment of your own physical and mental health.  Do you need to give in order to obtain approval or love? Perhaps it’s time to take a look at your people pleasing nature and ask if it’s really in your best interest to put others before yourself?  Setting boundaries and learning to say no will bring a sense of relief and calm.
  6. Say goodbye to Procrastination – The procrastination accumulation effect is something people tend to experience when they are distracted by stress and end up putting things off.  This happens because the more you put off, the more stressed you become thinking about everything you need to do. It is a vicious cycle, which is why focusing on getting things done can be one of the best ways to lower stress.  A good tip is to start your day with the most difficult tasks, the ones you usually put offGet them done early when you are focused and alert, and the rest of your day will flow much more smoothly with less worry or anxiety.
  7. Meditate – There is a solid body of research to prove that meditation helps in terms of lowering stress. Even a few minutes of meditation a day can restore a sense of calm as it triggers the parasympathetic nervous system which enables one to rest and recover from stress. Meditation increases blood flow to your brain which helps with brain function and it reduces cortisol the stress-induced hormone that can make you feel anxious or nervous.
  8. Shake It Up – When we are feeling stressed, it is normal for our bodies to clench automatically. To combat this you can shake it off, literally. Shaking is beneficial because it helps in terms of releasing the repressed negative emotions that literally get stuck in your body ramping up your flight or fight response.  A lot of mental health issues are caused due to repressed anger and rage, so shaking gently to start and then building up to more vigorous shaking can be a terrific daily practice that prevents the accumulation of negative emotions.
  9. Cuddle – Cuddling also helps  lower stress levels too. This is because cuddling someone you care about results in your body releasing the hormone oxytocin, which helps to calm you down. Cuddling improves emotional connection, builds a sense of trust and safety and promotes closeness in relationships. Whether it’s a hug from a friend or cuddling a loved one the benefits include improved sleep, less food cravings, help with chronic pain and a boost to your immune system. All things that will reduce your stress levels significantly.
  10. Guided Imagery – Last but not least, guided imagery is beneficial because it engages your imagination to create a place for yourself that is calm and peaceful and can help you to experience something positive simply by imagining it. Create your own wonderful, safe place and when it all gets too much close your eyes and imagine you are there.  Breathe deeply and then bring yourself back to the present and notice the shift from stress to calm.

So there you have it, a range strategies for lowering stress. Give them a try!

If you find that you are suffering chronic stress, anxiety or depression then get in touch with The Melbourne Counselling Centre to find out how counselling can help you work through and resolve your stress.  Click here for Bookings.