Stress Busters: 8 Tips to Lower Your Stress Levels

By Phil Baier, LCSW

We all experience stress in some form:  problems with housemates, work deadlines, not enough money, long bus or car rides, ending (or beginning) relationships, and dealing with personality differences can be stressful. There are countless experiences in life that cause stress and many of those we cannot control.

Stress raises levels of adrenaline, increases your breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. This causes your body to work harder. Over time, this pressure may cause great harm to your body. It is essential to reduce your stress in order to have a fit mind and body.

There are some simple and effective things you can do to reduce your stress every day:

1)    Get moving. Exercise can be a wonderful stress buster. Even if it’s just walking around the block (or the mall on a hot day), it gives your brain a break from everyday hassles. Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

2)    Motivate and inspire yourself. Put inspirational words and sayings on your refrigerator, a mirror, or inside your wallet or purse so that you can often see it, read it and believe it.

3)    Make time for yourself everyday. Just 5-15 minutes of breathing or meditation in the morning prepares you for your day.

4)    Use deep breathing. Breathing slowly helps to reduce heart rate and decrease stress. Practice deep breathing, and practice it often, so it becomes more of an automatic response when you are experiencing a stressful situation.

5)    Eat healthy. Eat smaller portions, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and stay hydrated by making water your beverage of choice. Avoid caffeine late in the day so that it does not interfere with getting good sleep, and don’t skip meals.

6)    Have a sense of humor. Laughing relieves tension. Play a fun game or watch a funny movie. Being serious at times is important, but knowing when to have fun and letting loose can be a stress buster!

7)    Listen to your favorite music. Listen to songs that relax you. The sound of ocean waves, rain, and other sounds from nature may also be soothing.

8)    Consider the power of a shower. Take a shower or a bubble bath. It will relax your muscles, and picturing a calm, peaceful place of your choice can relax you further.

The key to reducing your stress is to start by choosing only one or two of these tips and applying them in your life. When you master those, choose another one to practice. Practice doesn’t make perfect, but practice will reduce stress.

You don’t need to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. Whether you need help meeting a deadline, hauling groceries, or talking to a professional about what’s stressing you, ask for help when you need it.

“Phil Baier, LCSW, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has worked in the Human Service field for 25 years. He aims to help people reach their potential and lead successful lives.”