21 simple ways to cope with stress

Even positive stressors: new job, new baby, wedding planning can often feel overwhelming.  Aside from irritability and headaches, stress plays an active role on the body’s physiological responses. While our body is pretty incredible, it, unfortunately, doesn’t know the difference between the stress of frustrating traffic and the stress of  being chased by a bear. Once the sympathetic system (the “fight or flight” aspect of the nervous system) kicks in, the body responds with shortened breath, decreased digestion, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and increased glucose release.

Which is great…if you’re being chased by a bear. If you’re waiting in line at the post office, not so much.

Chronically functioning in a sympathetic state doesn’t make your body tolerant of the effects, instead it leads to hypertension, weight gain, decreased immunity, mental confusion, anxiety, digestive problems, and a plethora of auto-immune disorders.


zen 2Realistically, we will never eliminate stress in our life. Nor should we. And, we need that sympathetic system for when true emergencies do arise. What we can do, though, is change the way we respond to stress.

While a tropical vacation or an afternoon at the spa would be delightful, you can also find balance and calm in under a minute.

When you find yourself reacting to events outside of your control, try these 21 simple tips for coping with stress.

  1. Drink a glass of water. Proper hydration increases mental clarity, improves digestion, decreases appetite, and improves quality of sleep (click here to see how much water you should be drinking)
  2. Play with your pets
  3. Take a walk outside
  4. Sing loudly
  5. Inhale/diffuse pure quality essential oils: lavender, sage, peppermint, or orange (need tips for how to choose quality essential oils- click here)
  6. Draw/color
  7. Organize or toss 12 items (waiting in line is a great time to go through emails or saved Facebook articles)
  8. Take a nap
  9. Exercise. Sworkit has great workouts you can complete in five minutes- no equipment necessary.
  10. Hug
  11. Correct your posture: improves digestion, decreases anxiety, increases oxygen and blood flow. (click here for more benefits of proper posture)
  12. Get a massage: decreases stress, improves circulation, increases immunity, decreases joint pain, improves digestion, increases range of motion.
  13. Have sex (consensual and safely, of course!)breathe 4
  14. Breathe. Inhale four counts, exhale four counts. Repeat as needed.
  15. Try something new.
  16. Eat foods rich in antioxidants and stress-reducing vitamins & minerals: oranges, avocados, almonds, and sustainable salmon.
  17. Delegate. Chores, errands, tasks…
  18. Read.
  19. Visit/call a friend or loved one.
  20. Be present. Anger is worrying over the past, anxiety is worrying about the future. Focus on the now.
  21. Find a focal point. Add flowers or a favorite photograph to a high stress area (car, office, homework room) to bring visual calm.

We can’t always control traffic, late meetings, cranky kids, or chaotic schedules.  We can only control the way we choose to respond to them.  Balance is an option.

Although, if you really need that tropical vacation and a travel partner…let me know!

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