Don’t Eat Your Stress: 10 Simple Stress-Relieving Techniques
The phone rings right when you come home from work. The dog needs walking, the kids are hungry, and what was it you were going to make for dinner?
Twenty-first century life throws a lot at you and it’s easy to get caught up in a cycle of uncontrolled stress—a cycle that could have you reaching for the nearest snack, undoing all your hard work to reach your weigh loss goals.
Finding ways to reduce your stress levels—ways that don’t involve eating large amounts of chocolate cake—can help you maintain your weight loss as well as head off more serious health consequences in the future.
Rather than turn to food, try one of the following simple stress relievers
1. Breath Work: Even something as simple as taking a few deep breaths can make you feel less stressed. When you’re stressed you often breathe shallowly or even hold your breath. Pay attention to your breathing. Breathe in through your nose for a count of three. Hold for a moment, then breathe out for a count of three.
2. Meditation: Just a few minutes of meditation can calm your mind and body. There are many types of meditation, but one of the simplest ways to get started is to focus on something, such as your breath, while allowing your thoughts to pass through your mind without judging them. You might also choose a guided meditation app, CD, or other tool to help you.
3. Guided Imagery: Close your eyes and picture yourself in a peaceful, happy place. Maybe lying on a beach with warm sunlight shining on your skin, or perhaps breathing the scents of moss and ferns while walking slowly through the woods. Search online for “free audio guided imagery scenarios” to jump start your imagination.
4. Movement: Go for a brisk walk. Do 10 jumping jacks, practice yoga, or dance around your living room. When you’re physically active, your brain produces endorphins, natural painkillers that also help reduce stressed out feelings. Even five minutes can help!
5. Aromatherapy: By activating smell receptors, certain essential oils can help reduce stress and anxiety. Diffuse into a room, or put a few drops on a cotton ball to sniff when you feel tense. Lavender and clary sage are two popular choices.
6. Play “Dead”: Lie on the floor in what is known in yoga as savasana, or “corpse pose.” Close your eyes and breathe. Allow your body to sink into the support of the floor and let your stress flow out of you.
7. Single Task: Multi-tasking raises stress levels as your brain tries to juggle multiple activities. Focus on doing one thing at a time, paying full attention to what you’re doing.
8. Soothe Your Body: To relax your mind, do something that feels good to your body. Sit in a steam room or sauna, soak in a warm bath, schedule a massage, or give yourself a hand or foot rub.
9. Pet Therapy: Stroking an animal lowers blood pressure. Pet, play with, walk, or otherwise interact with a pet. If you don’t have one of your own, offer to walk your neighbor’s dog, or volunteer at an animal shelter.
10. Laugh: Read something funny, talk to your most hilarious friend, or let your favorite comedian crack you up. One of laughter’s many health benefits is reducing stress.
When you’re frazzled and stressed to the limit, it’s difficult to make the healthy eating choices you want to make. Try one—or all—of these simple stress-relieving activities the next time stress has you in its grip.