— By Jennifer Branett and Sandip Roy
Is stress the major obstacle in your life?
And, do you really desire to get rid of those unwanted worries and stresses, and enjoy your life to its fullest?
Of course, those hard-to-face days come at some point in our lives. And when they do, instead of facing the challenges positively, most of us develop a stressful attitude towards them.
However, it is also worth noting that training your mind to stay calm isn’t too complicated a task when we know the right steps.
Meditating, practicing regular workout sessions, performing positive and healthy activities like yoga, getting yourself engaged in the mind refreshing practices such as singing, dancing, painting, or whatever your hobby is, and avoiding the overuse of social media, can reduce your anxiety and stress levels.
[Do Facebook friends lower your happiness levels? Find out here.]
So, are you ready to kick out the stress from your life? Then read below our carefully plucked tips on how to refresh your mind from stress to lead a positive and healthy life.
10 Tips To Refresh Mind From Stress
1. Practice Belly Breathing
People who practice deep breathing exercises have observed a considerable amount of anxiety reduction. There’s a scientific explanation. Slow, deep breathing stimulates our wandering nerve which then releases an anti-stress chemical called acetylcholine. Now acetylcholine, incidentally the chief neurotransmitter of our parasympathetic system, slows down our heart rate.
Here’s how you can practice the deep breathing (also called belly breathing) exercise:
- Lie down or sit with your back straight. Place a hand over your belly. Draw a deep breath through your nose so that your belly rises and pushes out your hand. Now hold your breath for around 5 seconds, and then exhale through your mouth for around the same 5 seconds. For maximum benefit, repeat it a couple of times each day, up to at least a total of 10 minutes a day.
- If you are unable to hold your breath for 5 seconds, then you may adjust down the inhalation time. However, make sure that you exhale each time twice as long as you inhale.
2. Do This Yoga Pose
In yoga, it’s said that relaxation is a conscious endeavor that lies somewhere between effort and non-effort. In yoga, you consciously relax your body muscles. In this state of conscious relaxation, you are not in a grip of automatic muscle tension. Your muscles are relaxed, yet they can take commands from your brain to move at will.#Relaxation is a conscious endeavor that lies somewhere between effort and non-effort. Click To Tweet
Shavasana, or the corpse pose asana, is an especially effective exercise for deep relaxation. It’s usually done at the end of an yoga session, and helps reduce blood pressure and anxiety.
In this, you lie down flat on the ground with your arms and legs spread slightly apart. Then, focus on each part of your body to relax it, until you relax your whole body. Breathe in and out slowly and deeply. After doing this for 5 to 10 minutes, open your eyes, stretch out, and get up.
3. Eat Healthy Food
Studies find strong relationship between what we eat and how our brain performs. A healthy, nutritious diet helps our mood and mental faculties functioning at an optimal level.
Some foods influence the neurochemicals that cause anxiety in the human body, while other foods boost the brain chemicals that result in a sense of peace and cheerfulness. According to research indicates, some foods that can have a relaxing effect on your mind are: avocados, blueberries, green tea.
Food also affects sleep, and thereby our mental state during waking hours. Studies have shown that those who sleep less are more likely to consume energy-dense foods — such as fats or refined carbohydrates. Sleep deprived people also eat fewer portions of vegetables, and have more irregular meal patterns.
A study of 80 institutionalized older people fed on melatonin-rich cow milk (that is, milk drawn at nighttime) found that it resulted in their better activity next morning. This indirectly indicated that they had better restful sleep the night before.
Research by Rondanelli found a concoction of melatonin, magnesium, and zinc taken daily for 8 weeks, 1 hour before bedtime, improves sleep quality and total sleep time 43 older, insomniac people.
Artificial sweeteners as aspartame block the transport of important amino acids to the brain leading to reduced levels of dopamine and serotonin, that can further cause anxiety, insomnia, mood swings and headaches. Alcohol is a known central nervous system depressant.
4. Listen To Music
You might prefer listening to the rock or pop or metal or grunge, however, nothing works better than some peaceful, soothing tunes when it comes to relaxing yourself. Such music is known to calm down your mind. Plus, it can divert your focus away from stress.
Music decreases our anxiety levels and lowers the systolic BP. A research with 55 university students revealed that while mere music listening was effective in reducing stress, the most powerful effects were found when, to begin with, ‘relaxation’ was the reason for music listening.
- In addition to calming music, you may also listen to white noise that is specially designed to aid people to feel more relaxed and stress-free. Alternatively, you could try listening to the natural sounds such as the noise of forest, chirping of birds, sound of flowing water, and traffic hum.
- Binaural beats is an exceptional kind of sound that generates greater number of specific brain waves. The alpha pattern of binaural beats, especially, are known to enhance relaxation. In an experiment, patients were given to listen binaural beat audio just before they went into cataract surgery, to find out if it had any effect on their operative anxiety. The researchers found that it reduced their heart rates more than those who listened to plain music or no music.
5. Do Some Physical Exercise
Physical exercises are an effective remedy to de-stress your life. Physically fit people show reduced cardiovascular and neuro-hormonal responses to psycho-social stress, as compared to those who are unfit.
Physical training raises our resilience to stress-causing situations. Rats have been shown to have reduced startle response and lower anxiety when they were earlier trained on treadmill, as compared to sedentary ones. The researchers concluded that endurance training helps grow resilience and recovery from stress.
Regular exercise may also have an antidepressant effect. It does this by protecting us from being bogged down by chronic stress, because depression is often a disorder of our increased reactivity to stress.
By the way, exercise also increases your lifespan. Those who walk briskly for 150+ min/week can increase their life expectancy by 3.4–4.5 years, whatever their body weight.
Not sure how to get into a regular habit of exercise? Then read this immensely popular post: How To Make Exercise A Daily Habit: The Only Guide You’ll Need.
6. Spend Time With Cute Animals
A Japanese study showed that people who frequently looked at the pictures of cute animals had lower levels of stress and anxiety, and also had improved moods.
As per the other studies, people who often interact with animals have lower blood pressure and less stressed than those who rarely get in contact with animals. So, you could get yourself a puppy or a kitten, play with your friend’s cat, or take your neighbor’s dog for a walk.
If you still aren’t feeling calm, then you might opt for animal-assisted psychotherapy — a rehabilitation especially used for diminishing stress and worries using animals including cat, dog, and horse.
7. Distract Yourself
Practicing your hobbies is a great way to take away your mind’s focus away from stress and anxiety. Here are some activities that can probably calm your mind:
- Try painting, sketching, or even doodling an image. You’ll definitely get compelled to concentrate on making the drawing, while pulling yourself away from thinking about the causes of your stress.
- For some, weaving bracelets or knitting sweaters is another great way to divert the focus from the stressors.
8. Avoid Stressful Acts
Social media platforms can indeed induce stress. Facebook use can cause envy and depression in you. In fact, social scientists working at Facebook wrote in a blog post that passively scrolling through Facebook can harm users’ mood and mental health.
A German study by Brailovskaia and Margraf found that Facebook users score significantly higher on narcissism, self-esteem and extroversion than those who don’t use the platform. Surprisingly, the users also have noticeably higher values of social support, life satisfaction and subjective happiness.
So, be it spending time on your Instagram account or just WhatsApp chatting with your friends, try not to spend excessive time on your social apps. Besides the cell phone, also aim to shut off the television, and close down your laptop or computer, and see if the tech-free time makes you feel relaxed. We’re sure you might be pleasantly surprised.
9. Hang Out With Your Loved Ones
Stress often affects our social lives. When we are under a lot of stress, or under prolonged stress, we often pull ourselves away from our social interactions. We become hostile and irritable.
However, when stressed, staying alone and away from a companion or loved ones may well ramp up our stress levels, as then we are more likely to focus on the stressors. Spending more time with our family and friends, instead, may help us with reducing the stress load, and finding better ways to cope with it.
Research has shown that social support not only reduces the stress levels, but also lessens the feeling of pain when a hand is dipped in ice-cold water.
If you want to know how to better reduce your stress, here are 10 Easy, Effective Strategies To Beat Stress.
10. Go On A Vacation
According to some recent surveys and studies, if you’re under stress, you are more likely to forget your stressors while on vacation than in your regular environment.
Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco found that there is indeed a thing called “vacation effect”. Their study showed that everyone benefits from a vacation, both physically and psychologically.
You can plan an outing with your friends to some hilly or peaceful areas. It is better if you visit the spot where you can interact with nature as it may help you to get a quick recovery from your stressful mind and encounter nature to its finest.
Reading the above-mentioned tips, you’d have made up your mind of kicking out stress from your life. So what are you waiting for? Start practicing the listed activities and say goodbye to anxiety.
Remember, how do you think about stress is more important than the stress itself. If you think you can cope with your stress, then stress will not affect you as much adversely as those who think their stress is drowning them in.How do you think about stress is more important than stress itself. If you think you can cope with your stress, then stress will not affect you much adversely. Click To Tweet
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Author Bio: Jennifer Branett is an aspiring entrepreneur and a successful blogger. She writes for Tenreviewed, Makeupher and Smarthomepick, on healthcare, home improvement, personal finance, art, fitness and more. She hopes to continue her journey of self-fulfillment and self-discovery, as she keeps providing value to people’s lives. Follow her on Twitter. Sandip Roy is Founder of Happiness India Project.
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