While overall, long-term stress management is important, there are some times when you are particularly stressed out and you really need to take care of it right away, before your body’s “fight or flight” mechanism is triggered and you’re awash in adrenaline. Below I’ve listed ten ideas that are nearly all free, and many can be done at work, where you’re most likely to be stressed.
1. Put on some music and dance. Or, if you’re commuting in your car, put the music on and sing along.
2. Listen to recorded nature sounds (if you can’t get to real ones) like ocean waves, a mountain stream or a rain storm. This is one of my favorite ways to de-stress. When I’m having a particularly stressful day at work, I put on the headphones and listen to my mountain stream cd. In this series of videos on YouTube, you can watch and listen to ocean waves on a beautiful beach in Hawaii. Or you can check out this DVD series if you want better quality.
3. Exercise. Exercise is one of the best stress busters around, and it’s free. Go for a walk, and walk as briskly as you can. Take the stairs at work and get your lunch somewhere that’s at least a couple of blocks away.
4. Do some deep breathing. When my stress is particularly high, I tend to hold my breath and breathe shallowly. This video is helpful, although if you’re at work, be aware that you really need to hear what she’s saying. This video has subtitles.
7. Laugh. Watch, listen to or read something that you know will make you chuckle. Your cell phone is a great place to keep these “portable” stress relief tools. I keep a video of my son laying on his back trying to put his shoes on when he was two.
8. Take a quick nap (also known as a Power Nap ). Sleep is one of the most powerful healing agents there is, so even if you think you’re not sleepy, give it a shot.
9. Watch fish swim in an aquarium. One reason that so many doctors’ and dentists’ offices have aquariums is that they’ve been shown to relieve stress. If you don’t have an aquarium, you can watch a DVD or get a screensaver .
10. Try aromatherapy. Origins’ Peace of Mind is a good choice, or you can use lavender essential oil. Massage a small amount into your temples and breathe deeply.
Deborah Gray wrote about depression as a Patient Expert for HealthCentral. She lived with undiagnosed clinical depression, both major episodes and dysthymia, from childhood through young adulthood. She was finally diagnosed at age 27, and since that time, her depression has been successfully managed with medication and psychotherapy.