Life seems to be getting more stressful than ever and today, teenagers and young adults are faced with a multitude of unique challenges, concerns, and issues. Pressures at home, school, work, and within social groups can all add up to a stressful life experience. There are, however, simple and effective ways on how to relieve stress so that excessive amounts don’t lead to serious health issues and erode your quality of life.
When stressed, anyone, including you and I, can feel empowered, proactive, and confident about dealing with stressful feelings rather than let the sensation overwhelm or diminish us. If, for whatever reason, you’re feeling stressed, here are ten simple and effective ways on how to relieve stress so you can get back to living a more relaxed and confident life.
Did you know that when you are stressed, your physiology becomes constricted, and your breathing becomes more shallow? When this occurs, it’s likely your holding in more carbon dioxide than you are oxygen.
“Taking a moment to breathe more fully and deeply is a way to refuel immediately. This allows you to get more oxygen into your system which, in turn, will help you to feel less stressed in the moment.”
David DiSalvo, in the article ‘Breathing And Your Brain: Five Reasons To Grab The Controls’, suggests deep, slow, controlled, and mindful breathing. The purpose, “full oxygen exchange” as DiSalvo calls it—allowing oxygen to enter the body and carbon dioxide to exit. A type of ‘deliberate practice’ which helps trigger a relaxation response, sending your body signals that “all is well.”
Give it a go!
Try it for yourself. Right now, stand up with you back straight arms to the side and close your eyes. Now, when you inhale, inhale through your nose for a count of five and raise your arms above your head keeping them straight all the way. Next, hold your breath for a count of ten, then exhale through your mouth for a count of five. Repeat two more times.
Feel any different? Most people will notice a difference in the way they feel almost immediately—feeling more relaxed and “in control.” The key takeaway here, whenever you’re feeling stressed, remember to practice deep, slow, controlled, and mindful breathing as it will help to take the stress response “offline” very quickly.
Don’t underestimate how useful venting can be. We all have moments when we unload our disbelief, displeasure, or disappointment about something or someone to another person. In one way or another, it can turn out to be a very therapeutic exercise. For instance, do you remember a time when you went on and on … and on about a particular thing that had you wound up? How did it feel to let-it-all-out? Chances are, it felt good, maybe even surprisingly good, and it’s an entirely healthy thing to do!
Whether you unload to a parent, friend, teacher, or counselor, venting allows you to get those stressful feelings drawn out of your system so they don’t overstay their welcome festering inside and leaving you to feel overwhelmed. Be cautious, however, to make sure you don’t keep complaining about the same things without doing anything about them. Otherwise, eventually, you might find yourself with no one to unload to.
3. Lighten Up
If you know exactly what it is that’s causing your stress, take a close look at these and make the decision to take action to reduce or remove it completely from your life.
If you’re not exactly sure on what it might be, journey back on your recent experiences and see if anything comes to mind. Are you feeling stressed because of something or someone? Or is it something else?
For many of us, according to WebMD, taking on too many responsibilities and over-committing ourselves is a common cause of stress. If this sounds like you, then, maybe it’s time for you to dial back on your responsibilities and commitments to a more manageable level.
One of the primary causes of stressful feelings in the body is a disconnection with our natural surroundings which applies in particular for those of us who live in a city.
For instance, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science found that between a group of people who walked in natural settings to those who walked in high-density city settings, the group who walked the natural settings showed decreased levels of stress.
If you live in a city or simply don’t get out enough, every now and then, make time to get away from your usual settings and take a stroll somewhere a little more picturesque—whether it’s out in the country, the beach or the forest.
Also, consider keeping plants in and around your home so you can bring some of that super-charged green energy indoors too!
5. Get Physical
Exercise is an effective stress-buster for many reasons. For example, according to the ADAA’s article ‘Physical Activity Reduces Stress’, stress, and anxiety surveys consistently show that getting active is a downright robust way to combat stress.
Some of the benefits of getting your body involved in physical activity including triggering the release of endorphins—a chemical produced in the Central Nervous System of your brain which acts as your body’s natural pain and stress reliever.
Regular exercise, even at a low to moderate rate of intensity, ensures that these “feel-good” chemicals are flowing through your body frequently, helping to not only alleviate the feelings and internal conditions of stress but also to help take your mind off whatever it might be that’s causing you stress.
Many of us overlook the benefits of how a good nights sleep can make a huge difference to how stressed we feel. Whether you get enough or not, sleep plays a vital role to both our physical and emotional well-being. Unfortunately, in today’s day and age, for many teenagers and young adults, getting a decent amount of quality sleep is becoming less and less common.
Studies by the APA on stress and sleep, for example, found that the younger generations of today are getting, on average less sleep, reporting poor sleep habits and causing them to feel more irritable than those who get a good nights sleep.If you’re feeling short on sleep, there are two things you can do starting today to help increase and improve the quality of sleep you get each day.
Sleep needs to be a Priority
First, make it a priority to get to bed earlier every night for at least the next seven days. If you can get yourself into bed earlier, then, put away anything that keeps you awake—including your phone! If you have to, the moment you’re under your covers, turn your phone off or disable the WiFi connection and switch it to flight mode. By doing this, you set yourself up for an uninterrupted nights sleep.
Give it a shot for the next seven nights and after the seventh night reflect on how you feel. Are you still stressed? Maybe so, but do you feel better at handling it?
Secondly, if getting to bed earlier each night is just not an option, try to take fifteen, thirty, or even a full hour of your afternoon for a power nap.
In an article published by the Daily Mail, studies revealed:
“Workers who power napped for at least 45 minutes during the day had lower average blood pressure after suffering psychological stress compared to those who didn’t sleep.”
Numerous University studies attest to the stress-relieving meditation benefits, and you don’t have to be religious or spiritual to practice it either.
Meditation can be as simple as getting quiet and focusing on your breathing. It allows you to “become a watcher” of your thoughts and emotions as well as a useful technique, for detaching from stressful energies and tuning into the part of yourself that is unaffected by it all.
It all may sound a bit strange to you if you’re not entirely familiar with meditation, but the more you practice meditation, the easier it is to understand the benefits and live from this peaceful, transcendent place.
To try mindfulness meditation for yourself go to Mindfulness Solution and try a free guided recording my Dr. Ronald Siegel.
8. Be Creative
Putting time and energy into an artistic project has proven to be a healthy and effective way to relieve stress.
“Whether you have an interest in music, writing, dance, painting, sculpture, or something else entirely, spending time channeling your energy into a creative outlet can help to relieve those stressful feelings.”
Plus, you’ll also be channeling your energy into something positive.
If you’re not artistic by nature, there are still many creative things you can do. For example, you could listen to some relaxing or inspiring music, or watch an uplifting movie.
Coloring is another option, and it isn’t just for kids anymore, either. There are lots of adult coloring books available that have beautiful, intricate designs that can be a perfect creative outlet for anyone.
9. Pet Time
If you have a pet at home, you’ll know the joy and happiness they can bring. Taking the time to play with your pet is an excellent antidote for stress relief.
Animals don’t get hung up on negative emotions, and they are always in the present moment. In addition to loading you up with joyful energy, they can help remind us to live and appreciate the present moment.
10. Tune In
Whether you believe in an existing religion or prefer to follow your own spiritual path—tuning into a connection with something greater than yourself can bring a mystical-like sense of strength and well-being.
“A connection with a higher power, or a deeper purpose can support you in feeling less stress in your daily life no matter what the circumstances.”
See also: 17 of the Best Fidget Toys for ADHD, Stress, & Anxiety.
Your busy school, work, and social life will bring about many different types of stressors, but you don’t have to endure and suffer from the unpleasant feelings. Remember, when the need arises, put these time-tested tips into practice. The more you do, the more it will become easier for you to be in control of your stress-levels—no matter what the cause.
So, my challenge to you is this, if you’re feeling stressed (or know someone who is) over the next seven days, make an honest effort to try at least one of the ten stress relief solutions provided to you here. If you can do that, eventually, you’ll find yourself enjoying a better quality of life—a life you may never have dreamed of.