There are so many tips available to relieve stress. In this article, I will be sharing with you MY TOP 10 EFFECTIVE TIPS TO RELIEVE STRESS. These are tips I regularly use to de-stress and they have proven to be very effective for me.
Exercise is one of the most effective ways to relieve stress. Regular exercise relieves both physical and mental stress by lowering the stress hormones (cortisol).
Exercise also releases endorphins which are chemicals that help to improve your sleep and your mood. Endorphins also act as a natural pain killers.
Regular exercise keeps you fit and well which in turn takes off the stress that comes with ill health.
I strongly encourage you to incorporate regular exercise into your lifestyle, at least 3 times a week. You can start easy by taking 30 minutes walk 3 times a week then build it up from there.
You can also access loads of videos on YouTube for home workout.
2. EATING STRESS-BUSTING FOODS
Generally eating a healthy balanced diet should be a top priority for everyone but this is not the case. So many factors affect our inability to make healthy eating a priority such as lack of time, knowledge, ignorance, money, or even carelessness.
We must make conscious efforts to eat healthily. What and how we eat affects our overall performance and productivity in life. There is a saying that ‘’YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT’’ which is absolutely true.
Eating healthy plays a significant role in relieving stress because most healthy foods strengthen our immune system and contain nutrients that help in reducing our blood pressure and stabilizing our moods.
Some of the important nutrients that help with stress reduction include:
Complex carbohydrates: This includes whole grains such as wholegrain bread, pasta, rice, oats, potatoes, quinoa, etc. Also, fruits and vegetables contain complex carbohydrates.
These complex carbs prompt the brain to produce more serotonin which is a brain calming chemical. It stabilizes your blood pressure thereby reducing stress and helping you feel balanced.
Simple carbs such as pastries (junk foods) and most sugary processed food also increase serotonin production but should be avoided as much as possible as they are easy to digest thereby making you consume so much of it, they easily cause weight gain and increase in sugar levels.
Vitamin C: I highly recommend a daily intake of foods high in vitamin C. Vitamin C helps lower the levels of cortisol which is a stress hormone (as earlier mentioned). It also helps to boost our immune system and lower blood pressure during a tensed situation. Foods high in Vitamin C include oranges and other citrus fruits, kiwi, strawberries, broccoli, kale, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, etc.
Omega-3 fatty acids: Fatty fish such as salmon and tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Nuts and seeds such as almonds, pistachios, walnuts, and flaxseeds are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
The omega-3 fatty acid has been shown to reduce stress hormones, protect against heart diseases, depression and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
According to WebMD, we should aim you to eat at least 3.5 ounces of fatty fish twice a week.
Magnesium: According to WebMD, adequate Intake of magnesium helps in preventing headaches, fatigue, and premenstrual mood changes.
Good sources of magnesium include spinach and other leafy greens, cooked soybeans and salmon.
Herbal supplements and teas: Some herbal supplements and teas such as chamomile tea, mint, black tea, barley tea, passionflower, etc. are commonly used to reduce stress and anxiety and improve sleep quality.
NOTE: Please consult your doctor before using any herbs or supplements.
I also encourage you to reduce your caffeine intake when trying to relieve stress as caffeine causes the body to release adrenaline and cortisol.
2.MEDITATING ON THE WORD OF GOD AND PRAYING
This is my most powerful way to relieve physical and mental stress. Spending time with God does not only help me relieve stress, but it is also the only reason I can successfully apply all the other tips mentioned in this article.
When I spend time with God by praying, studying and meditating on His Word I am re-energized and renewed.
God helps me through the Holy Spirit to overcome my fears and worries. He gives me the enablement to be a better person such that I can love and treat people right, be disciplined enough to eat right and exercise, to make right choices and decisions, I can forgive and move on from past mistakes.
Spending time with God gives me the power to face life and its challenges daily without drowning or giving up.
I encourage you to commit to spending time with God daily. If you can, I advise you to make it the first thing you do daily. His Words has solutions to every problem. His words are soothing and His promises never fail.
There are so many scriptures in the Bible that tell us how God desires that we trust Him completely and not worry or stress about anything.
Philippians 4:6-7 says, ‘’Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (NIV).
Matthew 11:28-30 also says, ‘’Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (NIV).
You can also read John 14:27, Psalm 23:4, Psalm 55:22, and Psalm 34:4.
3.SPENDING QUALITY TIME WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Spending quality time with friends and family is a good way to relax from work and everything else. You are in a relaxed friendly environment where you can have an engaging heart to heart conversation.
You can play and laugh which is a very good thing as your body releases oxytocin which promotes well-being as it makes you feel good.
You can get good support with chores, childminding, etc. from family which would go a long way to help you relieve stress.
NOTE: Sometimes spending time with friends and family can be a source of stress. Know when to draw the line and avoid such meet-ups and gatherings.
5. SELF-CARE ACTIVITY (ALONE TIME)
I highly recommend that every woman engages in a self-care activity as often as possible. It is a wonderful way to de-stress.
Most times we are so carried away with work or looking after everyone else or every other thing asides ourselves and our personal needs.
Neglecting yourself for so long has so many negative effects. Asides that it is draining, it also tells on your appearance, your emotions, your health, and your overall performance.
You don’t have to break the bank to carry out a self-care activity. You can make it simple like taking a nap, having a bubble bath, dancing, home manicure, and pedicure, moisturizing and exfoliating, a massage, trying some new makeup, lighting a scented candle while having a glass of wine and listening to soothing music, turning off your phone just to sit quietly and meditate, taking a walk, getting a gratitude journal, dancing, baking, etc.
The list is endless. You can always find a new idea online if you run out of self-care activities. All I am saying is try spending quality time doing something relaxing or something that makes you happy just by yourself where all the concentration is on you.
6. LEARNING TO SAY NO
Learning to say no is one important habit that would save you from a lot of stress. Developing this habit has been a lifesaver.
We must learn to say no to anything or anyone that puts us under undue pressure thereby causing undue stress.
Learn to be in control of your choices and decisions even if it means turning down certain requests, invitations, relationships, or people.
Nothing is worth your peace of mind.
Say a ‘’HELL NO’’ to anything that would cost you your peace and put you under undue pressure.
You can politely tell someone ”no” and it is not in every instance that you are obligated to give a reason for saying no. Sometimes it is necessary but not all the time.
There are some instances in the Bible where God made it clear that it is OK to say no. The story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42 is one of such.
Mary sat comfortably at Jesus’s feet listening to all He said but Martha was upset that Mary was not helping her out with the preparations that needed to be made.
When Martha requested that Jesus should tell Mary to help her, Jesus refused by saying ‘’Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Also, the ‘’PARABLE OF THE TEN VIRGINS’’ is another example (See Matthew 25: 1-13).
7. TIDYING AND DECLUTTERING
Having a clean and tidy house makes me feel calm and less stressed. One of the first things I do when I feel stressed and can’t figure out why, is to look around the house to tidy or declutter.
Most times I unconsciously stress out when my house is untidy and 90% of the time, once I tidy up I feel better instantly.
Decluttering and tidying can make a great difference in your mental health because a cluttered and untidy household can make you less productive and focused. It can interrupt and affect your sleep as well.
Try carrying out proper tidying and cleaning of your household at least once every week, then decluttering once every two or three months. You will be surprised how that would positively boost your stress levels.
8. GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP
Sleep is a powerful way to reduce stress but it is usually difficult to have a good sleep when you are stressed as stress interferes with our sleep cycle.
High levels of cortisol stimulate alertness and vigilance which would interfere with our sleep pattern as it would cause us to drift in and out of deep sleep.
Exercise is a good way to enhance your sleep when you are stressed (as earlier mentioned).
I also advise creating a calm and soothing atmosphere just before your bedtime like dimming your room light, turning off the TV and putting away your phone. Reading a book just before bedtime also helps.
Give yourself room to wind down 30 minutes before bedtime. I personally have my alarm go off 30 minutes before my actual sleep time. This is a reminder to prepare my body and mind for sleep.
Some herbal tea like chamomile tea also helps to promote good sleep.
As adults, it is recommended that we get around 7-8 hours of sleep daily.
9. FIND A RELAXING HOBBY
Taking a break from everything and engaging in a hobby is a good way to de-stress because your hobby is something you enjoy doing. This would cause your mind and body to relax and you will feel refreshed afterward.
If you like to travel, going on a vacation every once in a while is a good way to de-stress. If you cannot afford a vacation there are so many other things you could do without breaking the bank.
I enjoy window shopping; it is one of my favourite hobbies. I love to play scrabble, read a book, watch a movie over a good meal and wine, sit out with friends and just spend quality time with family.
If you cannot figure out what you love to do, looking online for ideas is a good place to start. There are loads of options online.
Procrastination is a terrible way to elevate your stress levels. When you have some tasks or things lined up to accomplish, the earlier you start with them, the better.
It does more harm when you avoid doing them because you are never going to be at rest until they are done.
Just start by breaking down your tasks into small segments and creating a step by step plan to actualizing them. You can also create a reward mechanism for every task achieved just to motivate you to do them.
Stress is inevitable in our modern world but our bodies were not made to be consistently under stress especially chronic stress.
We must make conscious efforts to minimize or reduce our stress levels to be in good health.
Stress depresses your immune system thereby making you susceptible to viruses and infections. Stress also affects your overall productivity and performance in life thereby deterring you from achieving your goals and dreams.
God’s desire is for us to be sound body, soul and mind. He wants us to cast all our cares on Him and trust Him to take care of all our needs. He needs us to be in good shape to fulfill the purpose he has given us here on earth.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a certified nutritionist or a certified fitness coach. Every recommendation and advise on this post with regards fitness and nutrition has been given after carrying out a careful research from certified sources like WebMD. All recommendation has also been carried out and tested by me with positive outcome.