We all get stressed from time to time. The pressures of work, family, school and other responsibilities can lead to increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your body, driving up your blood pressure, increasing your muscle tension and revving up your heart rate. The good news is, if you respond to stress in a healthy way, cortisol levels will quickly decline, leaving you calmer and ready to tackle the things that stress you out.
But if you don’t cope with stress effectively, it can lead to chronic stress and a number of serious health problems. According to the National Institute on Mental Health, chronic stress can cause stomach problems, nagging headaches, insomnia, and irritability. It makes you more susceptible to viral infections and other illnesses, and it can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. It can also increase your risk of developing depression and anxiety or a substance use disorder.
Ready to calm those nerves and reduce your stress on the spot when you’re feeling the pressure? Try one of these three proven stress busters for the modern age.
Do Some Yoga
Where yoga was once considered a New Age practice for hippies and yogis, it’s now a research-based, surefire way to reduce your stress. Yoga combines body postures with breath control and lowers your stress hormones on the spot. It helps you improve your body awareness so that you can better recognize–and address–your body’s response to stress.
You can sign up for yoga classes at your local gym, or you can tune into any one of numerous yoga sessions on YouTube and get your yoga on in the privacy of your own home.
Meditate with an App
Like yoga, meditation is fast becoming a mainstream practice to help treat a wide variety of ailments, including stress. According to the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine, mindfulness meditation practice focuses on staying attuned to your bodily sensations, your breathing, and your thought patterns. It’s been found through research to reduce stress, help manage chronic pain, enhance your cognitive abilities, and reduce feelings of depression and anxiety. It also boosts your immune system, prevents cellular aging, and improves your self-awareness.
Mindfulness meditation apps can help you learn to meditate effectively. Try Headspace, a free mindfulness meditation app that will have you meditating like a pro in no time.
Color Yourself Relaxed
Coloring isn’t just for kids, and in fact, it can benefit stressed-out adults in some major ways. Coloring has been shown to reduce your heart rate, change your brain waves, and ward off negative thoughts. It focuses you on the present moment and produces feelings of calm and wellbeing. While you’re probably not going to keep a coloring book and box of crayons on your person at all times, you always have your phone handy. Try this sweet Android coloring book app featuring beautiful, intricate mandalas and 25 palettes with eight colors in each.
Don’t let stress get you down. As soon as you’re feeling the pressure, take a ten-minute break and so some healing yoga, calming meditation, or relaxing coloring for better mental health.