Easy Stress Relief: Shortcuts To Relaxation

Stress Management Shouldn't Be Stressful!

Stress management can be tricky; sometimes when we need stress relief the most, we are least able to give ourselves what we need.  Those experiencing chronic stress may feel too overwhelmed to take on a new exercise habit that can make them more resilient to that stress. Those plagued by a stress-inducing thinking patterns may find it more uncomfortable to sit in quiet meditation and take the mental break that they need.  When we're feeling overly stressed, we may become more prone to unhealthy behaviors that can bring more stress, feeling too drained to take on healthy habits that could benefit us in the long run.  Even those who aren't under severe levels of stress may find it easier to think about taking on stress-relieving habits than to actually do it, if the habits require a high level of effort or lifestyle change.  This is why it helps to have a few go-to stress management techniques that require little effort but bring significant relief.  

The following are truly simple stress relievers that can help you feel significantly less stressed in the moment, or can bring lasting benefits over time.  If you feel too stressed to make major life changes, try a few of these and feel better with minimal effort. Then work your way up to full stress management plan that you can maintain long-term.

Get In A Good Laugh

Sharing a laugh can take the edge off of a stressful day, and make it a stress-relieving evening.. Daly-and-Newton/ Getty Images

 Laughter relaxes the body and soothes the mind.  While exercise does this quite well and brings other benefits, most people (especially when exhausted) find it easier to relax with a good laugh than suit up for the gym, so "laugh therapy" can be an easier go-to stress relief habit to maintain than exercise.  (If you relax and de-stress with a few good laughs, you may find yourself energized enough to get in a good workout when you may have otherwise taken a pass.)

Getting laugher in your life is simpler than you may think.  Getting together with friends who you can really relax with, reading a few good jokes, or even watching a favorite comedy re-run have all been found to be beneficial, and can get you giggling pretty easily.  Learning to laugh at what is stressing you can bring all the benefits of laughter and take the edge off of what you fave as well, helping you to more easily see the situations in your life as "challenges" rather than "threats."

If you can work a little laughter into each day, you may find yourself motivated to take on more involved stress relief activities, but even if you don't, you'll find yourself feeling less stressed, which is the goal here.

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Tune In To Tune Out

Listening to music can lift your spirits, energize you, and keep you focused on the present. And it's as easy as pressing "play.". Maskot/ Getty Images

 Research shows that regular meditation builds resilience toward stress and brings many other benefits.  However, maintaining a regular meditation habit may be something to work up to; those who have a lot on their minds or who have high-stress thought patterns like perfectionism or pessimism may find it initially challenging and have a difficult time maintaining the habit.

Listening to music is a strategy that many find simpler to maintain.  While it may not carry the exact same benefits as meditation, music does bring a list of stress relief benefits of its own.  One of the main advantages of music is that you can put it on in the background and continue your regular activities, and it can relax you without much added effort on your part.  If you actively listen to it, music can help you stay focused in the present moment, banishing rumination and other stress-inducing thoughts.  Music can also effectively increase your energy level so you may be motivated to do other activities that can reduce your stress levels.

For these reasons alone, listening to music is a stress management trick to try, particularly if you find yourself balking at stress relievers that require more motivation.

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Smells Like Stress Relief

A little peppermint aromatherapy really can relax and energize you after a long day.. Moncherie/ Getty Images

 Aromatherapy--essential oils that soothe stress through scent--may sound too good to be true, but it does work.  This is a useful low-stress option because you can literally dab on some oil or put a few drops into a diffuser and feel less stressed (or more energized, depending on the scent) without giving it another thought.  

Aromatherapy can be used to improve sleep quality or feel more relaxed during the day, or it can be used to breathe energy into your stressed self when you need it.  Using it in your home can relax your family without their needing to do a thing.  Or it can be used to deepen a meditation session if you want to work up to that. 

Peppermint aromatherapy has been shown to boost mental sharpness and energy, so if you'd like to get yourself motivated to engage in a more active stress relief activity, aromatherapy can be a nice stepping stone to more healthy habits.

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Ongoing Stress Management Help Can Make A World Of Difference

Taking stress management one step at a time can change your life, particularly if you are facing chronic stressors. I offer many other stress management resources including free e-courses on a variety of topics; a weekly newsletter that includes tips, tools, and research; and help through social media as well. With small, regular doses of stress relief information, you can make the most effective changes for yourself when you feel ready, and know that the help will always be there. Connect now and become an expert at managing the stress in your life!

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