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9 Practical Stress Relief Tips That Work

You already know what stress feels like. You may feel edgy, moody, agitated, frustrated, overwhelmed, and/or as if you are losing control. And depending on what is causing your stress, doing things for stress relief may seem difficult, especially when it seems like you have no time. But taking time to provide your mind and body with some stress relief opportunities will help you to stay strong through this tough time. It can help you stay focused, think clearly, and even reduce your risk of a heart attack. It may also provide some much-needed adrenal support, especially if you have adrenal fatigue.

What Is Stress?

An image of a woman holding her headStress is your body’s response to a challenge. Stress can be both physical and psychological, and one form of stress often leads to other forms. Mental stress affects your body, and physical signs of stress can have neurological symptoms.

The minute your body perceives stress, it goes into fight or flight mode. In other words, it prepares your body to either fight a threat or run away from it. This action is started in the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis and carried out by your NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response. This system calls for a rise in cortisol and adrenaline production, with certain body systems moving into overdrive and others slowing down or shutting off altogether. The latter is because your body doesn't consider these necessary for your immediate survival.

A certain amount of stress is good for you, such as exercise or studying.

However, this stress system is designed for times when the stressful period is of short duration, and everything returns back to normal once a situation passes. At this point, your body can reactivate those essential processes, like digestion and reproduction, that it turned off to support your immediate survival.

Long-term stress, on the other hand, can cause health issues that stay with you over a long period. Problems develop when your body is constantly in overdrive. Examples include anxiety and depression developing due to a hormonal imbalance or gut issues. Heart disease and high blood pressure can also develop. Adrenal fatigue could also develop as the adrenal glands are unable to keep up with the high levels of cortisol output demanded of them. This condition has many varied symptoms and recovery is a long, arduous process.

However, stress relief exercises could help you cope, helping to turn off your stress response when you do not need to be in fight or flight mode. This also supports your mental and physical health in the long run.

How Stress Affects Mental Health

Stress can lead to many health issues that present as a large variety of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Furthermore, problems with brain function can cause a cascade of events that could affect other body systems. This is especially true when you have adrenal fatigue to contend with.

Long-term, high levels of stress hormones can cause an imbalance in your brain's chemical composition and contribute to physiological issues that could also affect brain health. An increased risk of stroke due to high blood pressure is a good example. It could also result in irregular neuronal activity.

Those exposed to constant stress may develop one or more of the mental health issues:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Feelings of impending doom
  • Insomnia
  • Lowered stress tolerance

How Do Stress Relief Measures Help?

Stress relief measures may help you at both a psychological and physiological level. This is because they help you calm down, become centered, and let go of feelings of stress. At the same time, this calming effect helps lower stress hormone production which, in turn, provides adrenal support. This also promotes the production of other hormones and allows other key bodily functions to restart or return to normal. You may even see a drop in blood pressure and heart rate.

Practical Stress Relief Measures That Work

A bowl of healthy saladThere are many different ways to provide yourself with some much-needed stress relief. You can pick a few of them according to what suits you personally. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to stress relief. Here are a few stress relief measures to try:

Diet

Taking a long, hard look at your diet and making appropriate changes is a good way to give your body the fuel it needs to handle stressors and recover. The adrenal fatigue diet is a good diet to consider. It recommends you cut down on sugar, coffee, and other stimulants, cut out processed foods, and concentrate on eating a wide variety of organic fruits and vegetables as well as lean protein.

Exercise

Exercising is a great form of stress relief. But it does not necessarily mean a strenuous gym workout or running ten miles. Depending on your stage of adrenal fatigue, such strenuous physical activity could do more harm than good. Instead, consider a brisk walk around the block, hiking, or even taking yoga or tai chi classes. The latter two give your entire body a great workout, and you can progress at your own pace.

Meditation

No matter the type of meditation you practice, the aim is to focus your attention while quieting all the thoughts running through your mind causing you stress. It helps instill a sense of calm, peace, and balance. Meditation also helps support your emotional wellbeing which, in turn, helps support your physical health.

Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises are one of the quickest ways to get some stress relief, and you can do them anywhere. You simply take a deep breath through your nose, hold it for a few moments, and then breathe out slowly through your mouth. But you can also do this behind your desk at the office when things start getting too much, in your car, or even while standing in line at the grocery store.

Visualization

Also known as guided imagery, this stress relief method suggests you use your imagination to transport you somewhere peaceful. For example, you might visualize lying under an apple tree with soft grass surrounding you. Imagine the sun peeking at you between the leaves, with a gentle breeze softly stirring your hair while you hear bees humming in flowers nearby.

Journaling

Writing your thoughts down in a journal is a great way of dealing with stress. Many therapists also advise their patients to do this as a means of stress relief. It allows you to get your thoughts out there while examining and reflecting on them. If you find yourself wanting to complain, rant, or dealing with racing thoughts, a journal is a great place to let those thoughts out.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

This technique lets you focus on the tightening and relaxing of different muscle groups. You can use it in conjunction with deep breathing exercises to help with stress relief.

To start with, find somewhere you can lay down. Then, close your eyes and start with your breathing exercises. Then, starting with your head, visualize your muscles relaxing. From there work your way down to your neck, your shoulders, and slowly progress down to your toes. Do this as many times as you like. You will soon feel a sense of calm and relaxation.

Get Some Sleep

An image of a man sleepingMany stressed-out people find it difficult to sleep. Conversely, this lack of sleep causes more stress. So, how do you go about getting some good quality sleep when you just cannot fall asleep? You can try employing a few techniques. These include:

  • Listening to some calming music before bedtime
  • Sticking to a schedule
  • Keeping electronics out of your bedroom
  • Ensuring a calming environment in your bedroom
  • Ensuring your bedroom is not too warm or too cold
  • Taking a warm bath or shower before climbing into bed
  • Drinking a glass of warm milk or eating a handful of nuts before going to bed
  • Not consuming any caffeinated drinks after 2 pm in the afternoon

If you still can't get to sleep after 30 minutes, get up and do something constructive, like tidying a drawer or writing in a journal. Consider reading a boring book. Then repeat the procedure.

Connecting With Other People

Connecting with people is one of the easiest ways to reduce stress. Talking about your issues, having some fun, and laughing with others gets your mind off what causes your stress.

But not all of us have our family nearby or have a large friends’ group. How do you get to be amongst people if you are an introvert?

You could consider starting a new hobby where you get to meet other people. An art class, for example, or a reading club. Or getting involved with a soup kitchen. Volunteering is also a great way to get out and be amongst people while doing something worthwhile for others.

In Closing

We live in a very stressful time. We see this by the number of people with health issues relating to stress and adrenal fatigue. And one way to address stress is by incorporating stress relief measures into our daily lives.

If stress is getting you down, here are a few things you can do:

  • Make sure you understand what stress is and what it can do to your health.
  • Determine your stressors and reduce them if possible.
  • Try using some of the stress relief techniques discussed in this article.

If you would like to know more about or need assistance with stress relief, the team at Dr. Lam Coaching can help. We offer a free** no-obligation phone consultation at +1-626-571-1234 where we will privately discuss your options. You can also send us a question through our Ask The Doctor system by clicking here.

© Copyright 2022 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Lam’s Key Question

Any stress relief measures employed will help support adrenal fatigue. This is because stress is the #1 cause of adrenal fatigue. Doing whatever you can to address stress with therefore help support adrenal health. In so doing, you may even see a decrease in various related symptoms.

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