- Aromatherapy: Results of studies using aromatherapy indicate that it helps aid in relaxation and stress relief. One such study published in the May 1998 edition of Palliative Medicine documented the calming effects of aromatherapy on a group of mostly breast cancer patients receiving radical cancer treatment. Their high tension, stress and anxiety levels dropped significantly after treatment. Essential oils have been found to affect brainwaves and alter behavior, though their mechanism of action is not well understood. Scents of lavender and citrus are two of the most often used for stress-relief, so keep these essential oils on hand and rub some into the temples in times of stress.
- Yoga: Researchers from Kaleida Health-Millard Fillmore Hospital in Buffalo, NY, measured whether yoga or listening to classical music or nature sounds could relieve stress. While all approaches worked to some extent, yoga worked the fastest to lower the blood pressure of those people subjected to mental stress.
- Breathing exercises: Breathing or relaxation exercises are becoming increasingly embraced by mainstream medicine as among the best remedies for stress. Like meditation, these exercises are meant to give your mind and body a quick timeout. Whenever you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed by daily events, stop and inhale deeply through your nose, then exhale slowly through your mouth to the count of 8. Practice this regularly throughout the day and you'll find yourself better able to diffuse your stressful moments.
- Aerobic exercise: Physical activity is a great stress buster, plus you'll be amazed by how much better you'll look and feel. In addition to distracting you from your troubles, exercise has an overall relaxing effect. Aerobic activity, in particular, can reduce anxiety, depression and tension. Brisk walking or bicycling for 20 to 30 minutes three to five times a week may be all that you need to help you manage stress more effectively.
- Develop a support network: Studies show that women are better able to cope with emotional stress than are men due, in part, to their stronger support networks. When stress becomes a problem, spending time with loved ones, meeting with friends or even caring for your pet may help. Or you may consider talking to a member of the clergy or a healthcare professional. All of these things activities can help get you through times of stress and related depression or anxiety.
The most important thing is to realize that you are not a victim of your circumstances. Rather, use these tools to change your perspective on the events in your life that make you feel stressed and take control of your reactions to them.