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Seven Ways to Help Relieve Stress

Stress is an issue that many of us struggle with every day in our highly stressful society. Bills, jobs, family responsibilities, and feelings of not having enough time in the day can cause us to feel stressed and overwhelmed. Over time, an overabundance of stress in our lives can take a toll on our overall mental health and physical well-being. To compensate for the daily stress we feel from demands and responsibilities, most of us seek out activities or hobbies to help relax. Though this is absolutely healthy and necessary for our mental health and happiness, for someone who has struggled with substance abuse in the past, the desire to relieve stress can resurface old impulses to use drugs to take the edge off. Luckily, there are many small, and healthy ways we can relieve stress and feel more in control of our emotions, schedule, and demands. Here are seven ways to healthily relieve feelings of stress.

1. Meditate
Spending a few minutes meditating every day helps to ease stress. Research suggests that meditating daily can alter your brain so that you are more resilient to stress. To meditate, just sit up straight with both feet on the floor. Close your eyes, and try to quiet your mind. Focus your mind on positive thoughts or mantras. You can also use this time as quiet reflection. Meditation can either be done quietly or by reciting out loud.

2. Listen to Your Favorite Tunes
Listening to soothing music has been linked to lower blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety. Listening to soft classical music can help you focus your mind and relax. Or, if you’re looking to blow off some steam, you can rock out to your favorite rock songs, releasing stress by singing along and jamming out.

3. Sweat it Out
Exercising has long been known and used as a way of getting rid of stress. Not only does exercising release feel-good endorphins, but it can help ease depression and anxiety. All types of exercise can be good for your mental health, whether it be running the treadmill at the gym, going for a walk around the park, or dancing. Just get up, and get moving.

4. Keep a Stress Journal
Maintaining a stress journal can help you discern what triggers your feelings of stress, and methods of deal with those stressors. Every time you feel stress, jot it down in your journal. Keep track of things like: what caused your stress, how you felt about it, how you acted, and what you did to make yourself feel better. Over time with active use, you will begin to notice certain patterns and themes that will help you develop better coping mechanisms in the future.

5. Puppy Love
Spending time with your favorite furball of love can help provide comfort and relief after a long, stressful day. Research has found that people can experience an increased output of endorphins and dopamine in as little as spending five minutes with an animal. Don’t have a pet? Find a buddy that will let you love on their dog or kitty for a little bit. In one study, patients who spent a short amount of time with a dog before an upcoming operation experienced 37% reduction in their anxiety levels.

6. Talk it Out
Sometimes, just spending some time chatting with a friend can help you to relieve stress. Face to face conversation will help to best maintain that personal connection. As an added bonus, conversations with friends often lead to a couple of good laughs, which by themselves can be a good relief.

7. Do What You Love
In our culture, we tend to prioritize work and productivity while downplaying leisure activities and play. Doing something just for fun that may not seem “productive’ is often perceived as trivial, frivolous, or even lazy. However, free time is anything but trivial. In fact, having free time to enjoy leisure activities is crucial to our mental health and well-being. Doing things like playing an instrument, reading a good book, playing a favorite RPG, playing sports, crafting, or even just drinking coffee while people-watching, are wonderful ways to nurture our mental health. So don’t feel guilty about taking a little “self-time” to decompress.

So if you’re feeling stressed out, try these methods to help you relax and feel better about your day. Lowering daily stress helps to maintain good Vancouver mental health and an overall happier outlook.

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