9 Ways to Reduce Stress

| 1/24/2011 12:30:00 PM

Stress can have a lot of negative side effects on the body: weight gain, high blood pressure, insomnia, lack of focus. Many health articles will recommend lowering stress as a way to better health—but how do you lower stress? The answer: in whatever way works best for you. Here are 9 ideas, from the obvious and simple to those that require more effort, to get you started. Experiment and find out what makes you feel best.

1. Watch your caffeine intake. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system and makes the heart race, making you restless, anxious and irritable. Caffeine can also disturb sleep, leading to more stress.

2. Drink herbal tea. Tea is the obvious go-to remedy for reducing stress. Something about a steaming mug of hot liquid calms the nerves. Opt for decaffeinated herbal teas such as chamomile, tulsi, lavender and holy basil.

herbal tea 
Decaffeinated and herbal teas can help calm nerves and reduce stress. Photo By Ting Cheng/Courtesy Flickr. 

3. Breathe deeply. Breathing exercises are a good way to destress. By making the body feel the way it does when it’s relaxed, deep breathing sends a message to the brain to calm down. Breathing exercises are also relatively easy to perform. For the most basic exercise, sit up straight and inhale slowly. You should feel your stomach expand outward—not your chest swelling—as air pours in. Exhale slowly, then repeat.

4. Practice yoga. Yoga’s combination of postures, controlled breathing and mediation provide stress-relieving benefits. If you can’t squeeze in a class, check out the Yoga Journal’s list of stress-reducing yoga poses.