How To Reduce Stress
Learn to lighten the weight of a long year with these simple tips.
Running a business in these uncertain times can be both mentally and physically taxing. There are, however, a few ways to lighten the load without leaving the very desk that's at the center of all this stress. Bonus: Each of these mood-boosters can be accomplished in as little as five minutes.
Alternate nostril breathing
Alternate nostril breathing is a way to focus on your breathing, relax and unwind. The extra oxygen in your body will help increase your energy, reduce anxiety, increase your focus and provide a sense of inner calmness. In Sanskrit, it is known as nadi shodhana pranayama which translates to “subtle energy clearing breathing technique.” One study found that alternate nostril breathing lowered heart rate and blood pressure of participants. Another study found a relationship between this method and increased calmness.
Instructions: Hold your thumb over one nostril and breathe in and out slowly and deeply. Alternate with your other nose hole. Repeat five times.
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Gentle humming creates vibrations and oscillates airflow in ways that are therapeutic. A research study found that this simple act increases nitric oxide release 15-fold and dramatically increases sinus ventilation. Another published in the International Journal of Yoga found significant deactivation of the vagus nerve during humming sessions with an easy “om”. Calming of the vagus nerve has been found to relieve pain and treat depression.
Instructions: Sit upright in a comfortable position, relax and close your eyes. With your mouth closed, gently hum one sound on every exhale. Popular humming sounds are the aforementioned om, but humming your favorite song can be just as helpful. Inhale through your nose and repeat. If your mind wanders, return your focus to the sound of your humming.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) tapping is an alternative therapy believed to be helpful for anxiety, depression, chronic pain and stress. The idea is that tapping on different parts of the body helps increase energy and reduce pain. A 2019 study of 203 participants found a significant reduction in heart rate, blood pressure, levels of cortisol (stress hormone), anxiety, depression, PTSD symptoms and pain levels.
Instructions: Think about one problem you wish to solve. Think of a phrase to repeat while tapping. For example, “Even though I feel stressed around this deadline, I accept myself”.
Use two or more fingers and tap five times on the side of your hand, top of the head, the beginning of the eyebrow, the side of the eye, under the eye, under the nose, chin, the collarbone, under your arm and then the top of your head again. This short video provides easy instructions.
Acupressure is an alternative medicine technique similar to acupuncture. It has been used for centuries and originated in ancient China. Acupressure is believed to help with well-being, a greater sense of calm, pain relief and reduced stress.One study of 135 participants found that acupressure helps reduce anxiety. This article explains more about where the hand pressure points are located.
Instructions: The Outer Gate Point, two inches up from your wrist, boosts energy. Grip the area two inches above your wrist with your thumb and index finger and gently squeeze. Hold the squeeze for 30 seconds and switch arms.
The Hand Valley Point reduces stress. Grip the area between your index finger and your thumb with your other index finger and thumb. Reach in about one inch to get a good grip on the thicker part of your hand. Gently squeeze. If you are stressed, you may feel pain in this area and may need to reduce the pressure. Hold this grip for 30 seconds and switch hands. Feel the stress melt away.
Neck and shoulder stretches
We hold a lot of tension and stress in our necks and shoulders. Loosen up and improve focus with a few simple movements and stretches.
Instructions: To relieve tight shoulder muscles, lift your arms straight up in the air and reach for the ceiling. Hold. Try to lengthen your back by stretching upwards as far as possible in your comfort zone. Repeat five times. This stretch also increases blood flow, energy and focus.
A stretch for your biceps is the Elbow Pull which increases flexibility and improves range of motion. Lift arms over your head, grab your elbow and let your hand relax behind your head. Then switch sides.
To reduce neck tension, lower your head so that your chin is tucked. Look up to the ceiling. Repeat. Another technique is to sit erect and look left and hold, then look right and hold for a count of five on each side.
It's possible to manage stress, while building a successful business, by doing a few of these exercises daily.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer