Reducing stress: 7 simple steps to relaxation

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There are many signs to look for if you or someone you know is suffering from stress. There’s the physical symptoms of tiredness and headaches, but emotional and behavioural indicators such as increased anger, sadness and anxiety are also prevalent in identifying stress. If you, or someone you’re close to, is suffering from stress, there are lots of ways to combat its effects and get back to normal. Here’s 7 easy ways that could help you on your journey to relaxation.

1. Make time for fun and ‘me’ time

A common factor behind stress is seemingly having no time for yourself. It’s easy to get stuck in the same old routine of work, kids, cook, clean, sleep – plus the one million other things that are piling up. But, no matter how busy you are, you should always make time for a little fun. Read to the kids, play a board game, watch a little TV. It doesn’t have to take long, but even 20-30 minutes can make a big difference. Personal time is also important, so take some time for yourself and do something you want to do. When you think about it, would it really make all that much of a difference if you slowed down a little?

2. Exercise and stay active

Exercise releases all-important endorphins into the body, which interact with brain receptors to trigger positive feelings. Exercising regularly has been proven to ward off feelings of depression and anxiety, boost self-esteem, reduce stress overall and improve sleep. Improving your sleep is so important, as it combats the regular feeling of tiredness and aids clearer thinking. Furthermore, as we all know, keeping fit has countless benefits to your physical health.

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3. Talk to supportive people

The individuals you deem closest to you should be who you lean on in times of heightened stress. It’s often surprising how much of an effect talking about your issues can have. Whether it’s just workload getting you down or something deeper, having supportive people around you can help no end.

4. Get tidy and organised

Being organised evokes a sense of control; a feeling which is often missing when someone is suffering from stress. Keeping a to-do list handy reminds you of your daily tasks, and it’ll feel much better when you see the list get smaller and smaller. You’ll soon find that your seemingly never-ending task list does actually have and end, and you can easily prioritise in order of importance. Meal planning is a great way of cutting out long cooking times each day. If your home’s looking a little cluttered, set aside some time to give it some TLC and make it tidy and clean again. An untidy house is often a massive stressor in adult life, so tidying definitely helps!

5. Listen to your favourite music

It’s been proven time and time again just how much music affects the brain. It’s been shown to increase the amount of dopamine our brain creates, which is a neurotransmitter that helps to control the brain’s rewards and pleasure centres. If you’re aware of your own stress levels, and know that they tend to increase, try creating a stress-relieving playlist for when it’s most needed.

6. Cut out unhealthy habits

Relying on unhealthy solutions is one of the worst things you can do for your overall stress – not the mention your long-term wellbeing. If you depend on releases such as caffeine, cigarettes or alcohol to relieve stress, this what’s known as ‘avoidance coping’ behaviour can soon be your downfall. Short-term relief does not overcome long-term health. Tackle problems head-on and make strides forwards in reducing your stress in other ways.

7. Make your home a relaxation hub

Home is the place you should feel most comfortable. By infusing your household with calming elements, you can provoke a feeling on relaxation and serenity. Integrate natural elements such as stone walls/accessories, or wood flooring paired with a comfortable rug, can help to make a room feel much more tranquil. Cooler colours are also proven to be much more relaxing, so a fresh lick of paint could make a big difference. Lamps with dimmer switches will help you set a relaxing mood, and candles are a must-have accessory for ultimate cosiness.

It’s inevitable that, at some point in our lives, we’ll all feel bogged down with stress. Although it can be difficult to get out of the occasional rut, being proactive in making changes is imperative to fighting off its symptoms and getting back to normal. What other stress-relief tips have you got to share?

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