4 Easy Ways to Reduce Stress Every Day
Stress occurs when your body responds to challenges, burdens, and worries. Everything from minor daily annoyances to major life changes, such as a job loss or the death of a loved one, can activate stress. The body’s response to stress can take many forms, including faster heart rate, elevated blood pressure, tension headaches, indigestion, insomnia, poor concentration, anxiety, depression, irritability, and anger. It’s important to reduce stress because it’s a major factor in heart disease and creates a risk of stroke.
When you’re feeling stressed, there are plenty of healthy ways to handle it. Managing stress doesn’t need to be complex or take lots of time. Here are several suggestions for simple ways to manage stress that can fit into your daily routine.
- Find Ways to Relax
When you’re stressed, it may feel like your mind is racing and won’t stop. Relaxing your body can help calm down your mind. There are many ways to relax your body and mind, including:
- Relaxation exercises: Deep breathing is an effective way to reduce stress. Taking deep breaths helps your nervous system slow down and settles your body. WebMD provides several deep breathing exercises.
- Mindfulness techniques: Focusing on the present moment and how you feel can help take your mind off the things that are causing stress. This fact sheet provides suggestions on how to reduce stress through mindfulness.
- Spending time outside: Nature walks, gardening, and other outdoor activities are great stress-reducers.
- Pets: Spending time with a pet can lower your blood pressure. Even if you don’t have a pet and don’t want to adopt one, visiting friends or family who have a pet or volunteering at an animal shelter can help you relax and alleviate your stress.
- Hobbies: Music, art, and other hobbies are effective stress management tools. Singing, dancing, painting, and knitting are creative activities that will help you relax. For older adults, solving Sudoku, crossword puzzles, and jigsaw puzzles — or playing video games — can provide mental stimulation and reduce stress.
- Get adequate sleep
Stress and sleep are often intertwined: Stress can cause you to lose sleep, and the lack of sleep can increase stress. Stress can increase how long it takes for you to fall asleep, interrupt your sleep patterns, cause you to wake up during the night, and even cause nightmares.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, these tips can help you reduce stress and get a better night’s sleep:
- Make changes to your daytime behaviors: Exercising, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding caffeinated beverages after noon can help improve your sleep.
- Establish a bedtime routine: Find a relaxing activity, such as deep breathing exercises, to calm your mind and body just before going to bed.
- Seek help from a healthcare professional: If you continue to experience sleep issues, consult a doctor, therapist, or sleep specialist to address stress and insomnia.
- Exercise Regularly
The best approach to getting started is to find an activity that you enjoy so that you will stay motivated and maintain a regular exercise routine. The exercise you choose can be running, working out at a gym, playing tennis or another sport with friends, or joining a sports recreation league. For older adults, swimming, cycling, aerobics, yoga, and chair exercises are stress-relieving activities that are easier on the joints. To get the best health results, doctors recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week.
Walking is an activity that almost anyone can do. Two miles a day at a moderate pace is the ideal goal to improve your heart health, advises Dr. Herbert Semler, a cardiologist trained at the Mayo Clinic and our founder. But regular walking of any intensity and duration will help you reduce stress.
- Use an App That Helps You Track Your Progress
If your goal is to start walking to reduce stress and improve your health, a good way to keep track of your progress is to count your steps. Heart Club, our doctor-designed app, includes a step counter that helps you maintain a healthy lifestyle. This all-in-one app helps you track your activity, check your blood pressure, and have access to important medical data — all on your phone. Learn how Heart Club can help you manage your heart health.