Little ways to reduce your stress every day

Stress much? Not at all? Oh good, me neither. 

Not true. I’ve been known to get overly stressed. I’ve been known to be a high-stress person. And stress is not good for us. In fact, it’s downright bad for us.

Gone are the days of being proud to be spastically busy and overwhelmed. We now know that living a more balanced life is much more important to our overall well-being and longevity. And while you may not be able to change the demanding responsibilities of your job, nor cut out all of the things you have to do each day in your role as a parent/sibling/friend/care-giver/whatever-you-may-be, you CAN change the way you handle and react to that stress.

That’s right, you have the power to reduce your stress in little ways.

Why stress talk? Well, when my friends at UnitedHealthcare told me that their latest campaign to promote wellness in April was all about “stress awareness,” I was certain I wanted to join them again to promote it. (In case you missed it, I’ve also talked about “How to start moving more every single day” and “How to have a more nutritious day” over the past couple of months.)

While I no longer work behind a desk in a high-stress corporate manager role, I still encounter stress each day in my life as a fitness professional and writer. And through my experiences in many different jobs, I’ve found that you really can trick yourself into dealing with things better if you do it mindfully.

So without further ado, here’s my take on reducing stress …

Little ways to reduce stress every day via A Lady Goes West

Little ways to reduce your stress every day

  • Get outside. Step away from what you’re doing, take a walk and get some fresh air. No technology allowed on this walk, unless you plan to talk on the phone about something not business related. During your walk, enjoy nature, and breathe in the scents of the trees and flowers. It’s calming. It will clear your mind.
  • Talk or laugh it out. Instead of bottling up your emotions, call a friend or a family member and talk it out. Extra points for chatting about funny stories that make you laugh, because laughter is a great stress reliever and a great way to change your frame of mind.
  • Snuggle up. Give a big hug to someone you love, or cuddle with your pet. Physical affection is pretty important stuff.
  • Reminisce. When things get tough, look at a picture of a good memory and daydream about that particular time and place. I’ve always enjoyed keeping happy photos in my workspace, and one glance at smiling faces of my friends and family can help me through some tough moments. Remember that not all situations are stressful and better times are ahead — just like the ones you see in those pictures.
  • Move and sweat. Hit the gym or the pavement. Exercise is a great stress reliever, because it gets your blood flowing and gives you a chance to release tension in a positive manner. While your workout doesn’t have to be high in intensity, it should be just enough to get your heart-rate up. And even 15 minutes will do, so schedule it into your calendar and get it done.
  • Create a calming scene. If you have the ability to access a candle and some music, you can design your very own zen-like spa setting. With a nice scent and relaxing tunes, sit down in a comfortable chair and breathe deeply. The chance to get away from everything you need to be doing and soak up some soothing aromas can bring you back to normal in no time. If you’re in an office, try putting on some headphones, smelling some essential oils and closing your eyes in your chair.
  • Be an artist. No really, try your hand at artwork. When was the last time you colored, drew a picture or doodled? Maybe some mindless creation on the page (and no, not on the computer) can make you feel more like yourself. This is something I’ve not ever tried, but it’s on my list for my next episode of stress!
  • Practice daily gratitude. I’ve heard of many people coming up with a daily word of gratitude, or a daily thought about something they are so incredibly thankful for. Maybe you write this word down each morning and pull it out to look at every time you need to step back and breathe. This could even be turned into a journaling project, if you’re really into it. This is another one that I am going to commit to during stressful times — such positivity is always a good thing.

That should do it! With just a bit of effort, you can bring your body and mind back down to normal, which is right where you want to be.

Join the “We Dare You” campaign to win pre-paid gift cards

Now that you’ve thought about how to handle your stress a little better, why not test your luck at a giveaway? You can be a part of UnitedHealthcare’s “We Dare You” campaign, whether you are a UnitedHealthcare member or not, just by entering to win in a few ways.

Visit the We Dare You website, share a photo of a funny moment or complete other activities shown below. This contest is open to everyone in the U.S., and you can enter once a day, every day for extra chances to win. So what are you waiting for?

To enter, all you have to do is go to the We Dare You website and do any of the following:

  • Share a photo of a “laugh-out-loud” moment on Instagram or Twitter or on the We Dare You website with the hashtag #LaughOutLoudWDY (and doing this could also give you a chance to win a Go Pro Camera!)
  • Test your smarts and answer a quiz question about stress management 
  • Watch a video on “3 Ways to Relieve Stress Naturally” and share your opinion 

There are weekly prizes of $25 pre-paid gift cards and monthly prizes of $400 pre-paid gift cards, so you have plenty of chances to win. And winning something? That’s a good way to take your mind off of your stress too.

There you go, my friends, that’s all I’ve got for you today. I hope you have a lovely Thursday. 

Find a way to de-stress a bit today, and I’ll see you back here tomorrow for “Friday Favorites.”

**Disclosure: This post was sponsored by UnitedHealthcare, however all the views and opinions are completely my own.

Questions of the day

How do you de-stress?

What’s one good thing that has happened in your week so far?

What’s the biggest “laugh out loud” moment you’ve experienced recently?

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48 Comments

  1. Stress? Me? Never… ok maybe sometimes? My favorite way to de-stress is get outside, especially with my dog. I love being able to just walk for long amounts of time and relax. One good thing that’s happened so far this week is I taught my first full BODYCOMBAT class last night and did ok! Laugh out loud moment would be when I showed up to work with my pants on backwards on Monday morning! Hope you find time to relax today!

    1. Hi Jenna! Pants backwards? Okay, that’s funny! And congrats on the COMBAT class, teaching a program for the first time is incredibly nerve-wracking I know. And I would LOVE to have a pet one day to take on walks outside! Happy Thursday! Here’s to stress-less day for us both!

  2. I’m a high stress person, but exercise helps a lot, A good workout can totally reset my day and change my frame of mind. That’s one of the reasons I’m loving my mid workday workouts right now. I used to think there was no way I could spare an hour in my workday because I was so busy, but it’s amazing how taking a break to hit the gym re-energizes me. I’m a lot more productive after too.

    1. Hi Chrissy! I think it’s AWESOME you take a moment away from work to get in a sweat session. I bet it helps you to be even more productive in the afternoon. Keep it up!

  3. Love these suggestions, Ashley! Stress has a way of sneaking up on us but we have to be watching and change things up to reduce it. I know I was stressed for way too long and finally have relaxed!

  4. Great tips! I have so much stress in my life. I really wish I could just throw it in the dumpster. Hiking and doing a low intensity workout helps me. Even blogging has been stress relief. Getting your thoughts out in words is a good way to offload everything I’m feeling.

    1. Hi Megan, I agree — as a writer, I love to write things down to uncover what is really stressing me and bothering me. And throw it all in the dumpster! That’s a great way to visualize getting rid of your stresses. πŸ™‚

  5. I think talking it out is the most effective way for me, and then to do something about it! Not just let it get bottled up! I once wrote a post that likened dealing with stresses and such as a workout–make a plan, get in there, warm up to it, deal with it, and then unwind!

    1. Hi Susie! Yes, talking it out is very important. And you are write about dealing with stress with a “plan” — that’s a great way to think of it! Happy Thursday! πŸ™‚

  6. I’m with you on easily becoming a big ol’ ball of stress! I am not good at de-stressing but agree that getting outside for sunshine and fresh air as well as a good workout are key to feeling a bit more sane πŸ™‚ I also try to put good nutrition and lots of water in my body when I’m feeling a little anxious. Not surprisingly, it helps!!

  7. Great list! Basically anything that can get you out of worrying about the future or being sad about the past works wonders. I usually go for something creative… write about a topic that makes me happy…. put on a fun song and dance. You seriously can’t be stressed out whilst dancing!

  8. I love this post! I used to be such a stress-case and would always be really unhappy. Now, I just do like frozen and “Let it GO!”. Exercising and having a creative outlet are really great tips and things that have helped out tremendously!

    1. Hi Marielle! For sure! I hope to have a little pet one day to snuggle with! πŸ™‚ Hope you’re taking it easy and NOT stressing today!

    1. Hi Jess! I have never been good at meditation either, but I do think a nice stretching yoga sessions calms me down. And you are right, we ALL have some form of stress. Happy Thursday! πŸ™‚

  9. I like this Ashley! I did a drawing class at the Met in NYC and it was probably the most relaxing 3 hours my bf and I spent in two years in that city. It totally transported us into this other world. I think it’s just a matter of discipline to make time for these daily activities! I was taught TM meditation at the age of 6, and I find that helps too.

    Have a great Thursday!

    1. Hi Jill! Oh that sounds like fun! I’d love to go to a drawing class one day. And focusing on something outside of ourselves like that is a such a good way to change your mindset. Nice you were able to do it with your BF too! πŸ™‚

  10. Move and sweat is definitely my go to for relieving stress. It is amazing what a little workout can do for your mood and anxiety level. I notice myself much more anxious when I don’t get in a workout in.

  11. Wow! Thanks for sharing! I could always use some de-stressing tips πŸ™‚ Also, can’t wait to sign up for the We Dare You To program!

    –Your Sweat Pink sister, Ginger

  12. Great tips, Ashley! I love getting outside when I am stressed even though it seems like the last thing I should be doing when I have a lot on my plate. That sunshine and some cardio (or even just sitting) makes me feel so much better!

    1. Hi Doc! Uh-oh, I’m glad you have a way to keep it in check. I hope things calm down for you. Looks like you wrote about stress too? Coming to check it out now! πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Kersten! Totally agree with you! Sleep and movement. Both of those things can solve a lot of problems. Hope you’re having a great day! πŸ™‚

  13. I really love this list and practice a few myself. Getting outside is one of my favorites, especially coming from a stressful workplace where I felt like I couldn’t leave the office… ironically, we did have a lot of windows and natural light. One other fave of mine is to turn up my favorite song of the moment and dance it out!

    Have a great weekend, Ashley!

  14. These are all such great tips Ashley! I totally know what you mean about getting outside – sometimes I just have myself walk home so that I can have time to myself without staring at my computer screen. Btw, have you heard of Headspace? A few months back, I was really stressed about taking the GMAT – to the point where I was almost having panic attacks. My doctor and One Medical Group recommended Headspace and their whole concept is about taking 10 minutes out of your day to meditate. It’s really great! xo Lisa
    http://www.strumsimmersip.com/

    1. Hi Lisa! Thanks so much for stopping by. You know, Headspace sounds faintly familiar, but I have not tried it myself. Such a great idea though. Sometimes we need to be forced to calm down and turn off. I hope your GMAT went well! And I used to love walking home in the city, but now of course in the last couple months, I moved to the East Bay and have a car! Too bad! Hope you have a great night!

    1. Hi Cassandra! I love it! Those are great ways to de-stress. I need some window shopping (and real shopping!) in my life heheh! Have a lovely night! πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Cassie! Yes, yoga is a great stress reliever! But for people who don’t do yoga, going to yoga may be more stressful than it’s worth hehehe!

  15. Top tips Ashley! I definitely notice that on the days I go for a walk I feel less stressed. I also find writing down what I need to do less stressful, as sometimes things become bigger in my head than they are in real life. xx

  16. Nice article, Ashley!
    Joining an MBSR course is what I did πŸ™‚ MBSR is Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. Mindfulness is a way of practicing awareness. MBSR course is an 8 week course, I am very at the beginning now, but I can recommend for anyone. I also will look at your list and maybe try some of them as well πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Karl! Well that sounds like an interesting concept! A course designed to help you be more mindful? Of course that’s going to help with the stress! Keep it up and have a great day.

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