We know the world is a crazy place right now. Just when we think we are getting back to some sort of normalcy, some new form of crazy pops up. Since we could all use a little break from the pressure of our daily lives, we thought it was a great time to share some of our favorite tips to help reduce stress and anxiety.
1. The Physiological Sigh
There are a lot of different breathing techniques that help reduce stress and anxiety, but have you ever heard of the Physiological Sigh? Discovered in the 1930s, it can help you regain control quickly when you are felling particularly anxious or stressed.
A sigh is a particular breathing pattern - two inhales through the nose followed by a long exhale through the mouth. You may not realize it, but we sigh all the time – every 5 minutes or so. It’s an involuntary action that is essential to lung function - without it our lungs would fail! The two breaths in help increase the surface area of the lungs and remove CO2 while the long exhale causes the receptors in the heart to sense an increase in pressure and signals to the brain to slow down the heart rate. This action creates a relaxed feeling.
Some key times you may notice the natural sigh is when you are falling asleep or when you are crying. Have you ever noticed that sometimes you feel better after a good cry? Pay attention to your breathing during a big cry and you’ll find yourself naturally doing the two breaths in followed by an exhale – it’s the bodies way of naturally calming you down. By mindfully sighing a few times, you can reduce the symptoms of stress and anxiety very quickly. And it’s easy – take two breaths in through your nose followed by one long exhale through your mouth. Repeat this a couple of times and you will start to feel relaxed and at ease.
2. Walking In Nature
Just get outside and take a walk! Go to your favorite outside spot whether it’s a park, a hiking trail, or the beach. Listen to calming music or a favorite podcast but make a conscious effort to not take any phone calls. Even better, just listen to the sounds of nature around you and take an inventory of what you see and hear. Be in the moment. A stroll through nature is the perfect break to remind us of the beauty in the world. After your walk, you’ll notice that you feel relaxed and at peace.
Laughing is great for an anxious mind…there is even research that humor can help lower anxiety as much as exercise can. Make a point to be around people who make you smile or laugh. Watch a funny movie or take time for something silly that makes you feel good. “Laughter is the best medicine” isn’t just an old saying – it’s the truth!
4 . Dial In Your Nutrition
Eating a clean, healthy diet can help you combat physical stressors. Chronic stress affects how the body uses calories, raises the body’s metabolic needs, and can increase the use and waste of important nutrients. Stress can also lead to negative eating habits which will only cause more problems down the road.
A healthy diet not only supports a healthy immune system and the repair of damaged cells, but it also provides extra energy that is crucial to the body when coping with stressful events. Studies have shown that certain foods like vegetables and those high in omega-3 fats may help regulate cortisol levels, the hormone that helps the body regulate its response to stress.
Try to avoid stress-eating. When we stress eat, we eat quickly without really noticing what or how much we are eating. This can lead to weight gain and other negative health issues. Instead, focus on mindful eating which includes making healthy food choices, paying attention to what you eat and eating slowly and thoughtfully. Meal planning can be a huge help when it comes to mindful eating.
These are just a few of our favorite stress reducers. And whether you try one (or all) of these or have some stress-reducing tricks of your own, make sure you are taking the time to care for yourself. We all deserve a little stress-free “me” time!