We live in stressful times. Sometimes it seems as if modern society was designed to cause stress, anxiety, and depression. We are barraged with an endless stream of nonsense from the Internet, email, social media, and fake news sites. Most of this stream of garbage is very depressing.
It makes sense to reduce your stress levels. But how do you do it quickly?
We know that over time, we can reduce stress by removing the triggers that cause stress in our lives. Taking a digital detox. Sleeping more. Exercising more. Spending more quality time with family and friends. Meditating. Praying. Fasting. Reading. Writing. But all these things take time and only work over the long haul.
How do you reduce stress in the short term? Because when you’re feeling stressed you want a solution sooner rather than later, right?
Here are four quick ideas you can use to immediately reduce stress, backed by neuroscience and brought to you by one of my favorite writers on the Internet, Eric Barker of Barking Up The Wrong Tree.
1) Clench and relax your facial muscles.
Your brain and body communicate with each other. When you feel stress, your body tenses up, including the muscles in your jaw and face. When you relax your facial muscles, you send a signal to your brain that it’s time to relax.
I first realized that my facial muscles were tense most of the time during a meditation session. I never realized that I had a habit of tensing and clenching my facial muscles. Once I realized my facial muscles were tense, it was pretty easy to just mindfully relax my facial muscles when I was feeling more stress than usual.
2) Breath deeply and slowly
Breathing properly stimulates the vagus nerve which is one of the quickest ways to change your emotional state and reduce stress. You have to breathe correctly though. To do it, just breathe in slowly for a count of six, pause at the very top of the inhalation, then breathe out through your nose at the same rate for the same amount of time.
If you want to increase your energy, do the opposite (breathe faster).
3) Splash cold water on your face
This is one of my favorite things to do in the summer when I’m in Colorado. In Houston in the summer when you turn on the cold water it’s not really cold, it’s lukewarm. In Colorado the cold water is actually really cold. I love to splash cold water on my face almost as soon as I get out of bed in the morning.
4) Dance to one of your favorite songs
This last idea may seem goofy but it works. In fact, I find that sometimes when I’m in a particularly great mood I will listen to music and “jam” spontaneously. When I listen to one of my favorite songs turned all the way to eleven, I’m often tapping the beat on my car’s steering wheel or doing a little mini-dance while I get ready for work. I know I probably look like a complete idiot but frankly when I’m in that mood I don’t care. It works.
These tips help me feel calmer and help me be in the moment. When we’re stressed, we’re not able to be present and experience what’s happening around us. Try these tips and you’ll be able to “be there totally,” in the words of Eckhart Tolle.