Here are 11 simple ways to reduce stress naturally, these things will remind you, it’s ok to actually enjoy the ride, even if you’re not where you want to be yet.
Have you ever had one of those days when you get so insanely overwhelmed with todo’s, that you forget you are actually alive? Or who you actually are?
I don’t know how to describe it. But, I had quite a few days like that lately. It’s like my whole life consists of doing doing doing. So much that I forget about little things like feeling good, experiencing new things, exploring, going outside…or, you know – living.
It’s times like this in life when most of us ignore the simple, but important things in life.
The little things that might not be on your agenda today, but can make a whole lot of difference in every area of life.
Things like for example: Do you feel good today?
That’s a basic need.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting more from life, but to do’s simply never end. In fact, if you’re like me, you’d add more to dos to your list every single day. Or hour. They’re just never ending.
But deep down we know if we go through life just “pushing through” and doing doing doing until we achieve everything we want, there’s a pretty big chance we’ll end up burnt out and unhappy. Whether we achieve those dreams or not. Because it’s a long journey. It’s not even a marathon. A marathon is boring, life’s more like an expedition (excuses moi if you like marathons. Also pardon my French – I don’t speak it).
So let’s treat it as one. Live, learn and enjoy.
Even if you need to get your report done by tomorrow, remember that you’re allowed to feel good while you’re still working on it.
Whatever you’re going through right now, you can either go through it feeling stressed or feeling well. And this is completely your choice.
In case you choose you want to feel better, here is a collection of small things you can do daily to reduce stress naturally and to feel good, no matter what’s happening. These are easy, small things that take almost no time or big effort.
11 ways to reduce stress naturally every.single.day.
Sounds kinda annoying, but if you can’t eat healthy all the time because you’re busy, invest either some time in making your own smoothie or some money to buy one that’s actually healthy. Drinking even just one smoothie a day can make a difference in the way your body feels immediately. It’s like a huge shot of energy that goes straight to your brain. A smoothie with fruits and vegetables makes you happier, less stressed, smarter and more energetic even according to science. If you don’t have any ideas for a delicious smoothie recipe, start with this one, I’m sure you’ll love it.
2. Finish one little thing you’ve been putting off
This doesn’t have to be a work thing. It could be paying bills or cleaning your desk. This thing, no matter how small and insignificant it might seem, is hanging in there somewhere on your mind making you a little more stressed than you need to be. But since it doesn’t take much time or effort – start and finish it.
Cleaning your desk takes no more than 10 minutes. You’ll be surprised how relieved you can feel after you do this. The next day you do another thing you don’t feel like doing. And then you start feeling better and better. More importantly, you feel in control, which is a super important stress-reliever.
Whether you like exercising or not, it is perhaps the most powerful tool you have against stress. Even science says moderate intensity exercise is linked to improved memory, lower rates of depression and Alzheimer’s disease. (research here)
All great, but I must say, I never really feel like exercising. Even while I am doing it, sometimes I wanna go to sleep or drink coffee or eat or stare at my phone. Here’s the thing: I exercise anyway. Every. Single. Day. And 5 minutes into it I start feeling great. I have more energy, am less cranky and more positive.
Now there will be some days when all you can and want to do is stretching. Do it. Don’t feel guilty about it. Don’t think that if you’re not doing a 1h long sweaty workout then it’s not worth it. If it makes your body feel good – do it. Your mind will thank you for that too.
4. Create something
Okay, so this is also a huuuge stress reliever! Instead of sitting in front of the computer, consuming someone else’s work while your eyes are bleeding, you can create something on your own. Letting some creative energy out feels so good, it’s unbelievable.
Definitely, do something that is different from your work. Write, knit, paint, draw, take pictures, play some music, sing or cook something. It doesn’t have to be perfect or to take a long time. Give yourself 10 minutes and you’ll see the benefit. And nobody needs to see what you’ve made if you don’t want to share it. Do it for yourself.
5. Gratitude – 3 things
Every day when you wake up or maybe before you go to bed, say three things you are grateful for. It might be simple things like the smell of the roses, the feeling after a workout, the taste of your food, your family or your body that is functioning and going through all this with you. 3 things.
This will help you realize that no matter how many things are going wrong, your situation is not all that bad. And you still have things to be grateful for.
Gratitude makes you happier and more positive. Even in patients with chronic inflammatory conditions like arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease, a study has shown that gratitude reduces the symptoms of depression – making life better, even if not everything is great.
6. Smell the flowers
There’s no reason to stop appreciating the beauty and sweet aroma of flowers, even if you’re super busy and important, okay? In fact there are many reasons to do the opposite. Because whether you can take care of a flower or not, flowers have been used for thousands of years to relieve stress.
And a few years ago a study showed that a certain odorant in flowers can reduce stress markers in blood (that’s in rats, but hey!). So whether you smell some flowers in the park or get some flowers in your office or house – it will have a great benefit for your health.
So stop taking everything so seriously, look at the funny side of a situation, let go and laugh wholeheartedly.
And laughing daily is easy – all you need to do is watch a funny movie, a funny youtube video or look for some funny quotes on Pinterest if you need some funny ideas. Life’s too short to be serious and focused all the time.
Music can make you happy, it can make you sad, it can make you aggressive and it can calm you down. Basically music can play with our emotions, anyway, it wants. We’re just puppets on strings.
But I read in one scientific paper that this is exactly the kind of music that can reduce the levels of stress hormone cortisol. More than minor music like for example Beethoven’s Fur Elise – this one actually makes you sad.
Another tip from that science paper: to increase happiness and all its biological markers like endorphin, serotonin, and dopamine listen to pleasant music.
What’s pleasant music?
Well, studies show it’s NOT techno. In fact, techno does all the opposite – raises cortisol levels and reduces endorphin levels. Listen to something light, cheerful or relaxing.
You can find the research here.
9. Be around animals
If you’ve read this post, then you already know petting a dog can improve your immunity. Even if that dog is not alive, but stuffed. I know – that’s sick.
10. Go out for a walk in nature
Take some time for a walk in nature. By nature I mean obviously park, if you’re in the city. I aim for 30min, and I try to do it every day. Those minutes could be the most inspiring of your day. You will come up with ideas, find solutions to problems you’ve been trying to figure out for hours, maybe days in your office.
In today’s world we’re so disconnected from the one thing we actually are – nature. But whenever you go back to it, it won’t take long to relax and recharge. I even found some studies that support this. One of them showed how people who go more often for a walk in nature are less depressed and have lower rates of high blood pressure (see study here).
11. Do something nice for someone else
Even if it’s the last thing you feel like doing – be nice to others. Give someone a compliment, give your seat on a bus to a pregnant woman or help an elder person cross the street.
Whatever you decide to do, helping others makes us happy. And no matter how insignificant this act might seem to you, it will put you in better mood. You made someone else’s life better today.
Even science supports this, showing that kind people are happier and their happiness increases, when they count their acts of kindness throughout the week (see this study).
So do something nice for someone else every day.
And here’s the key in my opinion: expect nothing in return.
It doesn’t have to be anything big or anything that takes too much effort on your side.
Then at the end of the week – remember and count all these acts of kindness. How did it make you feel? Proud, better, happier? More grateful?
And that is it. 11 small things you can do today to reduce stress, feel happy and just enjoy life even if you have 123 to do’s on your list.
One of my biggest mistakes has always been saying: “Well when I’m ready with this, I will take care of myself. I will make my smoothie, I will do my exercises, I will listen to some music and call my friend.”
And this never happens. There’s always more to do. And that’s fine, there will always be more things to do and more dreams to follow. This is what life’s about – progress, movement. That’s what makes us truly happy.
But it’s important that with all this goal pursuing, dream chasing and living everyday life, we still remember we are alive NOW.
Not after we fulfil our dreams. Right now. Because nothing’s promised. So there’s really no sense in putting off feeling good for the future.
Do something today to make yourself feel better, even if you feel awful and you don’t feel like it and would rather spend your time scrolling.
I challenge you to pick 3 (just 3) out of these 11 little things, put them on your daily to-do list and make sure you do them every day for the next week.
I hope you enjoyed this post, let me know what you like to do to reduce stress. What part of your day makes you smile? Let me know, and if you enjoyed this, make sure to share it with a friend, so more people can feel better starting now!