No matter how many methods you use in your daily life to lower your overall stress levels, there are still likely to be points in your day when you will feel a surge of anxiety that needs to be diffused.
Releasing transient stress quickly can prevent it from multiplying and resulting in a whole day, week, month, or life of stress. It’s good to have some quick stress-relieving techniques ready to pull out of your hat in these situations.
Here are 13 efficient ways to release stress quickly so you can get on with your day. You can modify these to fit your personal circumstances.
Number 1: Use Positive Affirmations
Positive affirmations are definitive statements that you say to yourself with authority. Over time, they can change the way your subconscious mind reacts to certain triggers. Having several of these ready to go when you’re feeling stress can help you release it quickly.
Here are some examples:
- I am fully equipped to handle this situation with confidence.
- I feel peaceful and approach today with tranquility.
- I embrace joy and positivity.
- I am relaxed and calm.
Say your chosen affirmation over to yourself 3 to 5 times while breathing deeply. The more you use positive affirmations, the quicker they will work for you in stressful situations.
Number 2: Practice Visualization
Visualization is a highly effective technique in which you imagine yourself experiencing the feelings or outcomes that you wish to have. It’s a particularly useful strategy to use when you wish to decrease your stress quickly.
Simply take a moment to close your eyes and breathe deeply. Imagine the tension and stress exiting your body through your fingertips, toes, and the top of your head with each exhale. During each inhale, visualize peace entering and spreading through your entire body. Within a few breaths, you should feel noticeably calmer.
Visualization is also an excellent technique to use if the stress you’re feeling is the result of performance anxiety of some sort. Imagining yourself performing the task properly and successfully can not only create calmness in your mind, but it can also actually help you accomplish your desired result.
Number 3: Count Your Blessings
It’s hard to feel anxious when you’re focused on being grateful. So the next time you feel yourself getting stressed, take a moment to list in your mind a few things in your life that make you happy. If you have trouble thinking of any at first, start small. You could begin with something as simple as “I’m grateful for the sunny day today” or “I’m thankful to have a job.” As you practice counting your blessings, it will become progressively easier to do.
Number 4: Maintain Something Fun to Anticipate
It can be helpful for stress-release to always have something to look forward to. This could be something big such as a vacation, or it could be something small, such as dinner with friends. When you have these small or large events planned into your semi-immediate future, you can think of them in moments of extreme stress, and the thought can help calm you down quickly. Building fun things to anticipate into your schedule will give you a consistent go-to happy thought when stress strikes.
Number 5: Do Something Physical
Maintaining a consistent exercise schedule can help reduce your overall stress. But doing something physical can also calm you down during transient moments of anxiety. You could take a quick walk around the building or block, jog in place for a couple of minutes, squeeze a stress ball, perform a little dance, or do a few yoga moves. Physical activity burns stress, lowers blood pressure, releases endorphins, and brings about more peaceful feelings.
Number 6: Take Some Healing Breaths
When you feel your stress level rising, take a moment to perform some healing breaths. It can be amazing what simply breathing deeply can do to lower your anxiety. When people are anxious, they tend to breathe in a more shallow manner, and it may become necessary to remind yourself to breathe deeply. You can learn more in our article “Breathing Techniques for Relaxation.”
Number 7: Read an Inspirational Quote
Spend a few moments one day collecting and recording your favorite inspirational quotes. You may record them by writing them all in a notebook, printing them individually and hanging them in various places around your workspace, leaving them scattered throughout your home on sticky notes, buying them as framed art to display prominently, or simply by memorizing them. When you’re feeling stressed, read or remember one or more of these quotes. This can leave you inspired to handle your current situation in a positive way and help you release the stress.
Number 8: Smile or Laugh
The simple act of smiling or laughing can completely change your perspective and accompanying emotions in the blink of an eye. Look at a picture of a loved one, think of something funny that happened recently, keep a joke app on your phone and read one, or simply put a smile on your face even if you’re not feeling like it. The popular saying, “Fake it ’til you make it,” can be put to good use in this situation. Even if you’re forcing a smile at first, your body will respond by helping you feel the actual happy emotion soon enough.
Number 9: Seek Out a Hug
Connecting with another human through physical touch releases the “love hormone,” oxytocin. This chemical helps lower your blood pressure and decreases the stress hormone, cortisol, in your body. So if you’re at home when stress strikes, find a loved one and hug it out. If you’re at work, it might be a little trickier, but consider working out a “hug agreement” with a trusted co-worker. Seeking each other out for hugs during stressful times can help both of you cope better.
Number 10: Count Slowly to 10
This suggestion is so common as to be a bit cliché. But the reason this technique is recommended so often in connection with stress relief is because it works. Giving yourself the space of 10 seconds to center yourself, regroup, and breathe oxygen into your body is sometimes all it takes to release anxiety and feel calm again. For even more stress-fighting power, you can combine this with the above visualization suggestion of imagining stress leaving your body with each exhale and calmness entering with each inhale.
Number 11: Have a Crunchy Snack
Munching on a healthy snack, especially a crunchy one, can help you physically release stress. Focus on how the food tastes and feels, removing your attention from the stressful stimulus. Keep these types of snacks around at all times to avoid indulging in less healthy varieties such as sweets or chips.
Number 12: Have Some Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is actually a stress-fighting food because of the antioxidants it contains. It’s also comforting and triggers the release of endorphins that bring down your stress levels because it tastes good. Be careful not to overindulge, but use this as an occasional tool in your stress-fighting arsenal. You can learn more about stress-fighting foods in this article: “Healthy Foods That Fight Stress.”
Number 13: Keep Colors and Smells Nearby That Help You Feel Cheerful or Calm
Visual and olfactory cues can drastically and quickly affect your mood. If stress has a tendency to make you feel depressed, keep colors and smells nearby that help you feel cheerful. If, on the other hand, you have a tendency to become worked-up or hyper in response to stress, surround yourself with calming colors and scents. This can take the form of flowers, aromatherapy, framed artwork, wall or furniture colors, clothing, accessories such as purses and jewelry, or favorite cups, pens, and other office supplies. When you feel stress rising, look at or smell your calming or uplifting objects for a moment.
Now that you’ve learned these 13 easy stress-relieving techniques, here are a few general tips for getting the most use out of them:
- Having a good stress-coping regimen that keeps your overall anxiety levels low can make it easier to release stress quickly as it comes up. Regularly practicing yoga, doing meditation, exercising, consuming a healthy diet, and connecting with loved ones are all examples of ways to maintain good stress levels. When you’re doing that, these techniques for quickly releasing transient stress are likely to work even better for you.
- It’s possible that you will be able to choose one of the above strategies and use it with good results every time you need it. However, it may be a good idea to practice several of them instead, so you’ll have options to use the one that best fits each situation.
- Positive affirmations are the most effective when they’re repeated, so you may want to practice a few chosen ones at other times, too, such as right before you go to sleep or as soon as you wake up. You can learn more in this article: “Positive Affirmations for Stress-Reduction.”
- Learn the signs your body gives you that stress is building up. Maybe you get sweaty palms, develop an increased heart rate, feel butterflies in your stomach, have a desire to cry, or experience a flash of anger.
- Once you learn to identify your body’s first signs of stress, you can start to employ the above techniques earlier and earlier in its course. This will result in increasingly better results.