Everyone experiences stress at some point or another, and in the short term it can help keep us motivated, meeting those crucial deadlines. Too much stress, however, can put you under strain both physically and mentally, encouraging unhealthy coping mechanisms like smoking or excessive alcohol intake – both of which can impact heart health.

Finding easy ways to relieve stress can help you handle the pressure in a heart-friendly way. But what is stress relief exactly, and how can you put it into practice?

What is stress relief?

When the pressure’s on, whether you’re getting ready for an upcoming event or just dealing with a packed to-do list, it can be difficult to step back and take a breath. Starting yoga or taking a meditation class are great long-term stress management techniques, but when you’re right in the middle of something, they’re not very practical!

Stress relief provides quick techniques that you can put into practice straight away. Try these simple tips on how to relieve stress to find balance again, without taking too much time out of your busy schedule.

10 ways to relieve stress:

  1. Breathe deep: If your breathing is quick and shallow, rest a hand on your chest and watch it rise and fall. Concentrate on getting that hand to move more slowly and more regularly. When looking for good ways to relieve stress, counting your breaths or even inflating and deflating a balloon are also great options.
  2. Try a massage: Nothing quite beats a full-body massage for relieving stress, but for a quick fix, close your eyes and slowly massage over your brows, using your thumbs to make little circles. Use your fingers to knead your shoulders and neck – this is excellent for relieving tension from sitting at a desk.
  3. Doodle: Tap into your creative side for a few minutes and doodle a whimsical design on some scrap paper. If you have a little more time, taking a life drawing class or picking up painting are other great ways to relieve stress.
  4. Smell the roses: This works especially well if you respond strongly to smell, but we all feel more relaxed when we sniff freshly cut grass or biscuits baking in the oven. Smelling a favourite perfume or flower are surprisingly good ways to relieve stress and ground you in the present.
  5. Talk it out: Just asking someone about their day and slowing down to listen to their response can be a great way to relieve stress. It’ll take your mind off your own problems, and social interactions can also help you feel less isolated – which is often a key aspect of stressful experiences. Of course, choosing someone who’ll listen to your problems can help even more!
  6. Embrace the tiger: To perform this Tai Chi exercise, throw your arms out as wide as they can go, then bring your hands into your stomach until your palms touch. Embrace the good with the bad, and then stretch your arms back out as wide. Once the stress isn’t in control, nothing can stop you!
  7. Drink a cuppa: One of those time honoured and easy ways to relieve stress, the ritual of making tea can instantly help to calm you down. Concentrate on your actions and breathe in the steam from your mug slowly.
  8. Have a hug: People who have had a hug recently are often much calmer when dealing with emotional situations than people who haven’t had any physical contact, so ask a friend or partner for a quick hug to start your day.
  9. Look: You may have thought it was just procrastination, but looking at cute pictures of animals online can actually improve your mood. They’ll also take your mind off the problem and allow you to come back to it in a more collected frame of mind.
  10. Smile: Boosting your mood, smiling can relieve stressful feelings and shed a ray of sunshine on everyone around you, too!

For more information and tips on how to relieve stress, check out our article on stress management techniques here, where you can find plenty of other ideas to help you relax!