By Paul Triggs, LMSW
Stress is a common reaction to challenges that everyone could relate to at one more point or another over the course of their lives. For example, in a 2015 survey by the American Psychological Association they found nearly 25% of participants experienced “extreme stress” (Welch, 2016). Although, this was a small study nearly a quarter of the participants disclosed periods of extreme debilitating stress. Stress can occur in many different situations both in public and private settings with no way to avoid it completely. That fact is particularly true in the city that never sleeps and is always asking for more. Here are a few tips to decompress and ground yourself before the next challenge arises.
⦁ Paired muscle relaxation
Pair muscle relaxation is a technique which incorporates deep breathing and physical movement to take your attention away from the stressor. For example, during paired muscle relaxation you could clinch your fists during each breath in and slowly let them go during the exhale. Another way this could be done is a public setting is with your feet. In other words, you would squeeze your toes as hard you can during the inhale and slowly let go on the exhale. The advantage of the second technique is the exercise would be less obvious and could be utilized in public settings where added attention is not wanted.
⦁ Write a note or a letter to explain why you feel stressed.
One benefit to writing a note or a letter is this will provide an outlet to get what is bothering you out instead of ruminating about the situation. The letter or note will also allow you to review your thoughts and decide whether they are even worth your time. Another benefit of utilizing this technique is you can say whatever is on your mind no matter how mean or cruel and there will be no outside judgement.
⦁ Listen to music or another type of entertainment that promotes positive feelings.
The benefit of listening to music or a podcast is they provide a distraction from your current stressful situation and promote more positive vibes. For example, studies have proven that listening to music can reduce the release or cortisol which is your bodies main stress hormone (Heid, 2018). Additionally, music has been proven to reduce feelings of pain and has even been considered beneficial before surgery to improve a patient’s outlook (Heid, 2018).
⦁ Try some vigorous exercise such as pushups and jumping jacks.
The benefit of exercise is you can take your mind off the stressful situation and increase your health at the same time. The use of exercise such as pushups and jumping jacks do not require much space or time but could yield good results. For example, physical activity has been proven to increase endorphins which are known as “feel good hormones” (Healthline, 2019). Additionally, vigorous exercise yields many health benefits such as strengthened immunity and better sleep which will reduce the frequently of high stress situations (Healthline, 2019).
⦁ Use your lifeline and phone a friend.
The next time you feel very stressed and need to vent call a friend. The benefits of discussing challenges and obstacles has been empirically proven because it works. On the other hand, sometimes your friend may not know what to do in certain high stress situations and a professional may be the right solution. If you feel consistent levels of high stress and would like to apply all these techniques more under the watchful eye of a dedicated professional reach out to our team. The first step of using your lifeline may be hard but you deserve to feel better and we are trained to make that a reality.
Welch, A. (2016). Why So Many Americans Are Feeling More Stressed Out. Retrieved from: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/stress-levels-in-the-u-s-continue-to-increase/
Heid, M. (2018). You asked: Is Listening to Music Good for Your Health? Retrieved from: http://time.com/5254381/listening-to-music-health-benefits/
Healthline. (2019). Exercise as Stress Relief. Retrieved March 26, 2019, from: https://www.healthline.com/health/heart-disease/exercise-stress-relief#1