Stress can be sneaky and cause physical symptoms like hives, headaches, or weight gain.

One way to try and reset both our body and mind is by taking a nap, even if it’s only for ten minutes. If we are lacking sleep to begin with, it can make it more difficult to manage stress.

While it is not advisable to take a nap in the middle of work, a party, or in public, it is sometimes necessary in order to manage stress and anxiety.

Some quick tips and tricks can help you lower cortisol levels. If you need some ways to calm stress quickly, check out our ways to calm stress in five minutes or less.

Strategies for Coping with Stress

If you are recognizing a pattern of deeper significance, it might be beneficial to take a longer break with our 30-minute tips, or speak to a professional to get to the heart of the matter.

Acknowledge Your Stress

Admitting that you’re stressed can help you feel better and might be the first step to asking for help.

Facing stress can be seen as an opportunity to reset your mind and take it as a chance to grow. Researchers say that when your brain is under stress, it is actually rewiring and trying to learn from the experience so you can handle it differently next time.

So, think about whether the stress is a buildup or related to a more long-term issue. If it’s unrelated to anything, maybe it’s a sign your mind and body need a nap.

Choose another one of the following tips if the problem is related to something that cannot be immediately fixed.

Chew Gum

Chewing gum can help to reduce stress levels. If you have some gum with you, try chewing it for a few minutes. One study of 101 adults found that people who chewed gum while working had lower stress levels.

The act of chewing gum can be therapeutic, helping to take out any pent-up energy and potentially providing stress relief – but only if it’s done with vigor!

Drink Stress Reducing Tea

There are several supplements that can help reduce stress and anxiety, but they may take a while to have an effect.

Although it may take a while for the drink to take effect, taking a break to make tea can be helpful. So why not make a drink that is also known to reduce stress?

Studies have shown that 1 gram of apple cider vinegar or matcha tea can take up to 95 or 60 minutes respectively to work.

Although it takes tea at least an hour to take effect, just stepping away can signal your body to relax. Plus, once you return to your desk, time may fly faster than you think.

Inhale Essential Oils or Invest in a Diffuser

Aromatherapy, which is also referred to as inhaling essential oils, is a popular technique that is said to help calm the mind in times of stress, anxiety, and insomnia. This technique focuses on using scents to holistically balance your physical, emotional, and psychological health.

Popular essential oils for combating stress include:

  • lavender
  • rose
  • vetiver
  • bergamot
  • Roman chamomile
  • frankincense
  • sandalwood
  • ylang ylang
  • orange blossom

Pick out scents that you like the smell of. For example, if the smell of peppermint makes you think of happy times spent with family, then go for peppermint.

Essential oils can be used to help reduce stress. To use them, apply three drops of oil to a cotton pad and breathe it in deeply 10 times. You can also purchase a diffuser to release a constant, calming scent into your room or office.

Stretch at Your Desk

Even when you feel like there’s a rush to finish your work, it’s still important to take breaks. If you can’t leave your desk, try stretching for five minutes without interruption.

Stretching can also help alleviate discomfort and pain from work-related injuries. To do this:

Put your palms together and push them up into the air.

Stretch and hold the pose for 10 seconds.

Rotate your torso to the left for 30 seconds, then to the right for 30 seconds. Repeat.

Go for a Walk

Exercise or walking can help reduce stress. It allows you to get away from the situation and also helps your body release endorphins, which make you feel good.

Walking can be thought of as a moving meditation. It can help you forget previous tension and relax so you return to the situation calmer and more collected.

Intervene With Mindfulness-Based, Stress-Reduction Techniques

Sometimes stress can cause you to have negative thoughts that can take you down a bad path. One way of avoiding this is to focus on the present and what you can do now.

Write It Out

Trying to put your stress into words can help you better understand what is causing it, and how you might be able to solve the problem.

This text is suggesting that writing out your stress can help you to identify patterns and figure out deeper reasons for your stress. Keeping these notes on hand can help you to avoid stress in the future.

Try the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

In tapping or psychological acupressure, you tap specific points on your body while saying setup phrases. This helps you to acknowledge your issues and accept yourself.

Spur Your Mammalian Diving Reflex

Submerging your face in ice-cold water for a short period of time can help reduce stress levels by activating the diving reflex. This reflex slows the heart rate and redirects blood away from the periphery of the body and toward the heart and other vital organs. These physiological changes have been shown to decrease anxiety.

You can relieve pain from a headache by pressing ice packs against your eyes, upper cheeks, and temples while leaning over and holding your breath.

Van Dijk warns that people with low blood pressure, heart problems, or eating disorders should get clearance from their doctor before attempting this strategy.

The diving reflex is something we share with other air-breathing vertebrates. You can think of it as a way of channeling your inner dolphin.

Distract Yourself With Strong Sensations or Mental Games

If you are struggling to look at a situation objectively or make decisions, taking a quick break can help reset your mind.

Although repeatedly avoiding your negative feelings and escaping through Netflix, video games or alcohol can lead to more distress, in the long run, occasionally distracting yourself by using strong sensory input or engaging in mental games can offer a respite from acute stress.

According to Kelly Koerner, a clinical psychologist and author of “Doing Dialectical Behavior Therapy: A Practical Guide,” taking a break from work can be beneficial for your mental health. It can help you see the big picture and give you the courage you need to move forward.

To take your mind off of stress, try chewing on a hot pepper, listening to loud music, holding ice cubes in your hands, or smelling a pungent cheese. Alternatively, you can “make an alphabetical list of car models, flowers, colors, or create a mental top 10 list of your favorite movies, novels or places,” Taitz said.

Sucking on a lemon or just imagining doing it can help you relax, according to Van Dijk. The action of salivating in response to the lemon activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which has a calming effect.

Look at Fractal Shapes in Nature or Art

The idea that nature can be relaxing has been around for a long time, but recent research has shown that looking at art and computer images that look like natural patterns (fractals) can have a similar effect. Fractals are shapes that repeat on smaller and smaller scales and are often found in nature (for example, in chambered nautilus shells, snowflakes, cones, tree branches, or leaf veins). They look pleasing to the human eye, and looking at them has been found to reduce physical signs of acute stress.

Some of Jackson Pollock’s paintings were found to be fractals, which helps explain why they are so popular. Humans tend to prefer lines that are not straight or smooth, and have a moderate level of complexity.

We tend to like fractals because they are found in nature and everything in nature is imperfect. This is similar to the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi which accepts imperfection and impermanence.

If you can, try to spend some time outside in nature to reduce stress. If that’s not possible, try looking at fractals, which are imperfect patterns that occur naturally. Singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen said that even though everything has cracks in it, that’s how the light gets in.

Speak to Yourself in the Third Person

When we get caught in the middle of an emotional storm, we often become fused with the negative thoughts in our head. It can seem like everything is bad, now and in the future. The more we try to rationalize our way out of it, the more we get stuck in negativity.

Zooming out and referring to yourself in the third person can help you get some distance from a difficult situation and see it as a challenge rather than as something you’re overwhelmed by.

According to Kross and other’s researchers, talking to yourself in the third person takes the edge of stress off and defuses it, often quite quickly. The next time you get stressed, try coaching yourself the way you would talk to someone you care about. Saying the words aloud might work better than doing it silently. When you talk to yourself, make sure you don’t slip into self-criticism.

Act the Opposite of the Way You Feel

When you are feeling an emotion, your body naturally has corresponding postures, facial expressions, and behaviors. However, if you don’t want to express the emotion you are feeling, you can try to do the opposite of what your body is telling you to do. This may help to lessen the intensity of the emotion.

A recent review showed that even just changing your facial expression can change how you feel. For example, participants in a 2012 study reported more positive affect and lower heart rates during stress recovery after they smiled. The effect was stronger for those who displayed a “Duchenne smile,” one that involves the eyes in addition to the mouth.

Finzi said that information about facial expressions is sent to the brain through cranial nerves that are connected to facial muscles. He added that this happens without a person being consciously aware of it. For example, if a person sees a snake, their face will show a look of fear in 40 milliseconds before they become aware of their fear.

So, when your negative emotions seem overwhelming, try smiling as it may provide some immediate relief.

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Rhoda is an award-winning dietitian, mature age model, and CEO of Sayvana Women.  

She is the creator of the Elegant Eating Solution, an affordable program that helps women avoid weight regain and feel great about themselves, without restrictive eating.

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