You’re likely already doing this, but it’s more about the how. Are you taking quick, shallow breaths? Well, don’t. To relieve stress, try taking long, slow breaths, holding them, then letting them out slowly, as well. Four seconds in, hold for four and exhale for four is one popular method, called “square breathing.” If you don’t feel like counting, just breathing deeply and making sure your stomach, not your chest, expands is the important part. Place your hand on your stomach if need be to get used to making this happen.
It’s not just teenagers that journal. Psychiatrists have found a significant reduction in stress and anxiety for people doing certain kinds of journaling. One kind is called a “gratitude journal,” and, you guessed it, involves writing down all the things you are grateful for. The exercise of searching your mind for good things alone apparently reduces stress. Another practice, called a “worry hour” recommends putting off all your worry until one hour of the day. In this one hour, then you will focus on your stress, writing anything you can possibly think of that could be worrying you. Sounds weird, but it works.
You know how your doctor keeps telling you to exercise more and it will help all the things you go see her about? Well, it’s time to start listening. Exercise has positive effects on virtually every area of your life. Stress is another area it helps. If you make a regular habit of working a workout into your schedule, you will see your stress melt away, along with some pounds.
Yes, that’s an order. Socializing is shown to reduce stress. Laughing is also shown to reduce stress. Really, anything where you are enjoying yourself and around people, as long as it’s not a destructive habit like binge drinking, will reduce your stress. Binge drinking may make you feel better in the moment, but the effect on your brain chemistry and sleep, not to mention the hangover the next day, will only worsen your overall stress levels.
So, you’re stressed out because you spend all day sitting down in a poorly-lit room staring at a screen? You know what you shouldn’t do when you get home? Sit down in a poorly-lit room and stare at a screen. No. Instead, turn off the email notifications on your phone, maybe leave your phone behind altogether, turn off your television and computer and go do something low tech. You could take a walk outdoors, read a book, cook a meal, paint, dance, play an instrument, whatever you want, but by all means, give yourself some time away from the tech.