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Five Unexpected Ways to Reduce Stress

Published on August 3, 2022

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Let’s face it: many of us in today’s fast-paced world are feeling stressed out a lot of the time. It can feel like there’s a never-ending stream of hectic demands, instant messages, emails and other responsibilities buzzing around us at all times, which isn’t necessarily an environment that’s conducive to peace and tranquility. Luckily, there are tactics you can put to the test to reduce stress and find relaxation. And no, you don’t need to make drastic life changes, move to the Himalayas, or break the bank on a fancy spa vacation to de-stress.

Reduce Stress with These Tactics

Here are five ways to reduce stress you may not have tried before:

1. Tense and Release All of Your Muscles

Beautiful young woman meditating in Savasana pose on floor close up, practicing yoga at group lesson,
Photo by fizkes/Adobe Stock.

When you think of relaxation, you may think of gentle movement like yoga or stretching. However, one proven technique that can help your body and therefore, your mind, relax is progressive muscle relaxation (PMR).

By tensing certain muscle groups like your legs, arms and feet and then releasing them, you’re signaling to your body that it’s time to relax and let go. This technique can be ultra-relaxing and stress reducing, especially if you’re holding onto a lot of tension in your muscles from clenching, anxiety or a long day at work.

2. Practice the 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique

Rearview of a young woman sitting on a mountain top peacefully gazing at low-lying morning clouds and the pastel colours of a tranquil sunrise
Photo by marvent/Adobe Stock.

When we feel super stressed, it can often feel like we’re not grounded in our bodies or in the present moment. One effective way to help with this and reduce stress is the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique, which engages all your senses to help you anchor yourself in reality when you feel overwhelmed.

All you have to do is look around and notice:

  • 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can touch
  • 3 things you can hear
  • 2 things you can smell
  • 1 thing you can taste

These things could be anything from the sound of the lawnmower next door to the scent of laundry detergent, but the key is to focus your energy on the sensations you’re experiencing in the moment to get out of your head and into your body.

3. Go to a Rage Room

Man in the rage room smashing chair and old computer with a baseball bat
Photo by Arturs/Adobe Stock.

Have you heard of rage rooms? They’re all the rage (sorry). The simple concept behind a rage room is going to a safe and controlled space where you can release your anger, break things and cause some damage without the negative repercussions (like, you know, jail time).

If you’re feeling some pent-up aggression that needs to be released, you might want to find a rage room in your area and book some time for a session.

4. Try Color Therapy to Reduce Stress

Woman enjoying therapy in spa with color therapy, colorful lights stimulating the psyche
Photo by Kzenon/Adobe Stock.

The use of color therapy or chromotherapy as a treatment for certain mental and physical health ailments can be traced back to the time of the Ancient Egyptians. Essentially, some people believe that by looking at certain colors like orange, red, or green, we can shift our energy, increase happiness and reduce stress.

Of course, it’s important to note that color therapy isn’t typically accepted in the western medical community, but if you typically find things like looking at art, coloring in an adult coloring book, or painting your nails to be therapeutic and relaxing, then chromotherapy could be a viable stress reduction tactic for you. 

5. Recite Positive Affirmations

Woman at home write affirmations on a diary while drinking a cup of tea.
Photo by simona/Adobe Stock.

Studies have shown that positive self-affirmation can reduce feelings of stress and increase problem-solving abilities. Try coming up with a positive statement about yourself, your life or the world that you can believe in and repeat like a mantra throughout the day.

While you may feel silly at first, reciting positive affirmations is a technique that several public figures and thought leaders like Louise Hay and Wayne W. Dyer swear by. If you don’t feel comfortable saying your affirmations out loud, you could try writing them out in your journal over and over again until you really feel them, à la Bart Simpson.

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Lead graphic by VectorMine/Adobe Stock.

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The Author
Mackenzie Patterson is a Toronto-based writer and journalist. She enjoys long walks, iced coffee on tap, and discovering all the latest and greatest health and wellness trends.