1. Try Progressive Relaxation All the way from fingers to toes - tense and then release each muscle group in the body (lower arm, upper arm, chest, back and abdominals, etc.). Once the body is relaxed, the mind will be soon to follow!
2. Breathe Deep Taking a deep breath has been shown to lower cortisol levels, which can help reduce stress and anxiety. Studies suggest deep breathing can also cause a temporary drop in blood pressure.
3. Spark Some Scents Studies suggest aromatherapy can be a good way to relieve stress. Give Lavender a try! Scientific evidence suggests that aromatherapy with lavender may slow the activity of the nervous system, improve sleep quality, promote relaxation, and lift mood in people suffering from sleep disorders.
4. Laugh It Off Laughter can reduce the physical effects of stress (like fatigue) on the body. Look for a laughter workshop in your area. They are out there!
5. Drink Tea One study found that drinking black tea leads to lower post-stress cortisol levels and greater feelings of relaxation.
6. Exercise That post-exercise endorphin rush is one way to sharply cut stress. Endorphins are often classified to be the happy hormones. Any form of physical activity leads to the release of these feel good neurotransmitters. The increase in endorphins in your body leads to a feeling of euphoria, modulation of appetite, the release of different sex hormones and an enhancement of immune response. This helps combat the negative effects of stress.
7. Listen To Music Research points to multiple ways in which music can help relieve stress, from triggering biochemical stress reducers to assisting in treating stress associated with medical procedures.
According to a group of fancy Oxford University scientists, listening to the third movement of Beethoven's No. 9 might actually lower your blood pressure and help fight heart disease. In real life. Isn’t this surprising??
"Professor Sleight explained some composers, including Verdi, seemed to have managed to mirror the natural rise and fall of blood pressure in the human body. Verdi may well have been a physiologist,' he said, 'he hit on this ten-second rhythm in blood pressure and you can see it in his music.'" — Elizabeth Davis, Classic FM
Liz Birch is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist who provides services in her office in Orange, CA but also has options for home-based psychotherapy. Her areas of expertise are in communications, relationships, marriage strengthening, stress reduction, depression, trauma, ptsd and provides support to the military population and their families. She can be reached via LizBirchTherapist.com, email at LizBirchMFT@gmail.com, or by calling 714-614-0612.
Over the past few years I’ve become accustomed to utilizing phone apps to help my clients get through some tough times. It’s not a replacement for me, their therapist, but they do help when my clients needs some "on the spot" aid.
I thought I’d list a few that I use and ones that my clients have shared with me that they find helpful.
If any of you have other apps that aid in calming, supporting, encouraging or do some crisis management until personal help is available I’d like to hear about them.
Here are my top five that I’m able to access via my iphone.
Again none of the above mentioned apps are a replacement for in-person help but many of my clients have shared that they have been extremely helpful to them.
Please list your favorite self help apps (and maybe some pros and cons) in the comment section below. It's great to learn what works, and doesn't, from others.
*photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
I'm a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist who works with individuals, couples and families. I hope I inspire you to take risks and step out of your comfort zone. You might be surprised what you discover.