Phoenix VA Health Care System
Quick Stress Relief Pointers
There are countless techniques for preventing stress. Yoga and meditation work wonders for improving our coping skills. But who can take a moment to chant or meditate during a job interview or a disagreement with your spouse? For these situations, you need something more immediate and accessible. That’s when quick stress relief comes to the rescue.
The speediest way to stamp out stress is by engaging one or more of your senses—for example using your sense of sight and sound—and incorporating movement can help calm and energize yourself. Here’s some pointers:
If you’re a visual person, try to manage and relieve stress by surrounding yourself with soothing and uplifting images. You can also try closing your eyes and imagining the soothing images. Here are a few visually-based activities that may work as quick stress relievers:
• Look at a cherished photo or a favorite memento.
• Bring the outside indoors; buy a plant or some flowers to enliven your space.
• Enjoy the beauty of nature–a garden, the beach, a park, or your own backyard.
• Surround yourself with colors that lift your spirits.
• Close your eyes and picture a situation or place that feels peaceful and rejuvenating.
Are you sensitive to sounds and noises? Are you a music lover? If so, stress-relieving exercises that focus on your auditory sense may work particularly well. Experiment with the following sounds, noting how quickly your stress levels drop as you listen.
• Sing or hum a favorite tune. Listen to uplifting music.
• Tune in to the soundtrack of nature-crashing waves, the wind rustling the trees, birds singing.
• Buy a small fountain, so you can enjoy the soothing sound of running water in your home or office.
• Hang wind chimes near an open window.
If you tend to shut down when you’re under stress, stress-relieving activities that get you moving may be particularly helpful. Anything that engages the muscles or gets you up and active can work. Here are a few suggestions:
• Run in place or jump up and down.
• Dance around.
• Stretch or roll your head in circles.
• Go for a short walk.
• Squeeze a rubbery stress ball.
The power of imagination
Sensory rich memories can also quickly reduce stress. After drawing upon your sensory toolbox becomes habit, another approach is to learn to simply imagine vivid sensations when stress strikes. Believe it or not, the sheer memory of your baby’s face will have the same calming or energizing effects on your brain as seeing her photo. So if you can recall a strong sensation, you’ll never be without access to your quick stress relief too.