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Jul 28, 2023
6 simple ways to instantly reduce stress
Man closing his eyes as he is de-stressed.

Quick Take

  • Stress can disrupt our daily routines.
  • There are ways to relieve stress quickly to focus on getting things done.
  • Seek help if you have frequent or lengthy periods of stress.

Stress is part of everyday life. According to the American Institute of Stress, 55% of U.S. adults experience some stress daily, while 94% of American workers feel stress on the job. Sometimes, stress can help energize and motivate you to get things done. At other times, however, stress can be so overwhelming that it becomes difficult to focus on what you’re doing.

When that happens, take a few minutes to try one — or more — of these simple tips to immediately quell your stressful feelings, allowing you to tackle your tasks with a calmer and clearer mind.

1. Clear away the clutter

A cluttered desk or workspace can add to your stress. Try taking a few minutes to clear away the items you don’t need so your job looks less chaotic.

2. Stretch it out

Take a moment to stand up and try some simple stretching exercises to help relieve muscle tension. Be sure to take a deep breath first and exhale during the stretch. Stretching helps prompt your parasympathetic nervous system to help you relax by slowing your heart rate and calming your mind.

3. Chew on this

Surprisingly, research shows that chewing a stick of gum can help reduce stress while giving you a quick pick-me-up. If gum is not to your taste, a small piece of dark chocolate can give you a moment of pleasure while lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

4. Get physical

Exercise relieves stress by releasing endorphins that help improve your mood. Taking a break from your daily routine to do 20 jumping jacks or take a brisk 10-minute walk can help you relieve tension and feel more energized.

5. Put your stress on ice

Applying a wrapped ice pack or a cold damp towel to the sides of your neck is another way to activate your parasympathetic nervous system to reduce your heart rate and relax your body and mind.

6. Laugh it off

Laughter is actually good medicine for reducing stress and anxiety, so take a moment or 20 to watch funny videos or a favorite sitcom. The act of laughing has been shown to decrease blood pressure, which can help you calm down while taking your mind off your troubles.

If these techniques do not help alleviate some of the stress you are feeling, or if you are experiencing stress too often or for long periods of time, consider speaking with your physician or a mental health professional. Check with your health plan if you need help finding someone near you.

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