Life is stress. That’s the definition of life I heard somewhere at a time when I didn’t understand what it meant. But now with the economy in a rut, the environment going down hill faster than we can correct the wrongs, plus personal stressors…life is definitely “stress.” And we do need stress relief more than ever!

Ways to Reduce Stress

Whether it is debt relief, your career, a relationship, raising your grandchildren, or illness that is causing you stress, you need to find ways to reduce the stress you’re experiencing. Woman’s Day (February 1, 2010) has a list of 10 simple, inexpensive ways we can help ourselves achieve stress relief so the stress doesn’t get the best of us.

  1. Listen to slow tunes. This first bit of advice is one that I do during my often stressful 45-minute commute to and from school where I’m a high school special education teacher, which is stressful in itself. Slower music tunes are shown to lower heart rate and blood pressure.
  2. Give yourself a time out. When I can’t find a quiet spot to spend 5 minutes of “down” time, I go out to my car or take a short walk outside. The sunshine alone helps boost my mood.
  3. Burn a scented candle. One fragrance that helps me is lavender. I can’t burn a candle at school, but I can use a lavender lotion which calms the nerves – actually lavender reduces the the activity of genes normally elevated in stressful situations. Other fragrances that are reported to do the same are lemon and mango. (Try using a lemon scented cleaner or air freshener in the home, too.) I also keep some lemon drops in my bag and car.
  4. Laughter is the best medicine. A good laugh increases your heart rate and blood pressure. After the laugh, they are lowered and you feel more relaxed.
  5. Lend a hand. Helping others helps us feel good. It also helps us put our own life into perspective. Cutting the grass, running an errand, cooking a meal, tutoring children, providing transportation, etc., for neighbors or friends can be small acts of kindness that have big results in relieving stress.
  6. Exercise with a friend. Exercise has the same effect that a good laugh gives you, only with more healthy benefits and longer lasting. Exercising with a friend helps you connect with someone so that you won’t feel so isolated. You’d be surprised how many others have the same stressful concerns.
  7. Lend emotional support. Call someone you know who is going through a difficult time and listen to her as she shares what’s going on in her life. It will help her by venting and you feel less stressed. It takes the focus off of your troubles.
  8. Chew sugarless gum. The repetitive motion of chewing is calming, putting the stress on the gum and relieving tension. It also may lower cortisol, a stress hormone.
  9. Distract yourself. I go on Facebook and play Bejeweled, trying to beat a friend’s points. When I don’t have access to my laptop, I take out my Sudoku book and challenge my cognitive skills. Games can be found also at
  10. Loosen up. Feeling stressed? Wear loose clothing. Pressure on your stomach or back can cause discomfort which causes tense muscles.

Take Care of Yourself!

The main point here is to take time out for yourself. Don’t lose yourself within all the madness that may come your way. Take care of you first and it will help you take care of what needs attention. If you’re not at your best, then you can’t do your best.