Stress can be debilitating if left unchecked, and often it’s more effective to take a serious look at the causes and effects on your body and mind than to opt in for quick fixes. However, the immediate de-escalation of stress can not only help in the short term, but also help mitigate long term damage to your health. We have some go-to remedies to quickly reduce and manage stress that are easily accessible, sometimes completely free and will help you get through the next stressful situation you face.
It often sounds too easy to be effective, but breathing is a proven way of immediately reducing the physical response to stressful situations and so calming the mental response (particularly if the physical response induces greater anxiety and fear to the situation). We strongly suggest the Buteyko breathing practice to calm down an overstimulated nervous system.
Buteyko breathing consists of controlled exhaling, pausing and inhaling to regulate disrupted breathing patterns. As a quick guide, it looks something like this:
- Take one deep, relaxed breath
- Place your index finger and thumb on each side of your nose and gently press to ‘plug’ your nostrils closed
- Pause your breathing until you feel you need to take a breath, and exhale slowly
- Release your nostrils and breath naturally for ten seconds
- Repeat as many times as you need.
You can do it anywhere, any time, but typically it’s better to find a little private space to practice it so you can fully commit. Do this for as little as two minutes to feel an immediate difference. Not only will this help assist the stress response, but it’ll also help in these responses escalating to panic or anxiety attacks.
- Bach Rescue Remedy
This is a stress placater for your pocket. In either spray or drop form, this is a nifty product to have on hand to assist with onset of stressful situations and subsequent responses. It doesn’t interact negatively with medications, and can be used very discreetly – just a few drops or sprays under the tongue. The formulation uses a combination of the essence of five botanicals to create a calming response. It is fairly cost effective and can be purchased at most pharmacies and health retail stores, including CK Health. Carefully check ingredients for any possible allergy reactions.
- Practice mindfulness
You’ve likely heard the term ‘mindfulness’ used a lot in the pursuit of managing your stress levels, but it can be difficult to know where to start in applying it to your actual life. Mindfulness can be everything from a quick anxiety-relieving exercise, all the way to the entire way of life. For the purposes of this article, however, mindfulness is for the immediate release of stress. For that, it can be created very easily using tactile and sensory techniques. For example, remove your mind from the stress-causing situation or event taking place and hone in on the sounds you can hear – from loud traffic, to a distant bird chirping. What can you feel, see and touch? Feel the fabric of your clothes, rub your finger tips together, or hone in a visual aspect of your environment. Taking note of the minutiae of what is around you will create a state of mindfulness that can effectively use greater consciousness to distract your brain from stress.
- Talk to a trusted friend or loved one
It’s not always easy to open up to others when we feel vulnerable, but it is the best time to do so. If you have someone you can trust, and who is a positive influence on your life, it can be enormously helpful to be free to speak to them in a non-judgemental and open space. It could be an organically approached situation; calling a close parent or your best friend in these moments.
Or, it could be more formally achieved, especially if you’re finding yourself in a stressed state more frequently. Ask someone you trust if they mind being your designated go-to in times when you can’t escape responses to stress on your own, and maybe ask them to remind you of things you need in those moments. This could be as simple as them reminding you to breathe, or practice mindfulness.
- Practice progressive relaxation
This is similar to mindfulness, but with more of a focus on release techniques. When you’re in a stress response, squeeze a part of your body, such as your arm or hand, and then release. Repeat this several times. The tensing and release of muscles in one isolated area of the body creates a state of immediate relaxation, and offers a distraction from the stressful situation.