Just as stress is different for each of us there is no stress reduction strategy that works for everyone. Jogging and other aerobic exercises, different types of meditation, prayer, yoga and tai chi are great for many people but when imposed on others, prove dull, boring and stressful. There is certainly no shortage of stress relievers, so be sure to check into as many as needed to find the one(s) that work for you!
Example Stress Relief Activities
- progressive muscular relaxation exercises
- autogenic training
- deep breathing
- massage therapies
- visual imagery
- self hypnosis
- listening to music
- volunteer work
- taking short breaks
- nutritional supplements like chamomile, spearmint, kava kava, adaptogens and St. John’s wort
- Feldenkrais and other bodywork
- postural techniques
- keeping a daily journal of events and how they feel
- playing with pets
- sitting under a pyramid
- Strong emotional support from group therapy, family or friends is a powerful stress buster.
Medical Stress Relievers
- prescription tranquilizers
- beta-blockers for specific complaints
In addition, a variety of cranioelectromagnetic stimulation devices have been found to be effective and safe for anxiety, insomnia and drug resistant depression.
Most of the above are designed to reduce the annoying somatic and emotional effects of stress. The focus in recent years has been on preventing such problems, which makes more sense.
This involves identifying the sources of stress in your life and finding ways to avoid them or reduce their impact.
We sometimes create our own stress because of habits and traits that can have harmful effects that can be reduced using cognitive restructuring techniques such as behavioral modification, assertiveness training, time management and stress inoculation.
Others turn to smoking, alcohol or drugs to relieve their stress but these short-term solutions eventually cause even more stress. Long-term use of prescription medications can result in dependency or adverse side effects and some supplements can have similar problems or interact with other drugs.
St. John’s wort has been shown to interfere with numerous medications and kava kava is banned in the UK because of liver damage.
As indicated, they key to reducing stress is to prevent it. Getting enough sleep, a proper diet, avoiding excess caffeine and other stimulants and taking time out to relax may be helpful in this regard.
Many stress relievers work because of the power of the placebo effect that comes from having faith in the procedure or the therapist. Other very different approaches can achieve the same results because they reduce feelings of helplessness and provide a sense of control over the problem.
Stress is an unavoidable consequence of life. There are some stresses like the loss of a loved one that you can’t hope to avoid and others that you can prevent or influence.
The trick is in learning how to distinguish between the two so that you’re not constantly frustrated and devote your time and talent to areas where you can make a difference.
I have found that using the Serenity Prayer has had surprisingly effective results. I repeat it as many times as I need to until a feeling of peace and calm comes over me. Sometimes that takes one or two repetitions. Sometimes it takes a hundred. It varies from day to day.
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