ICBA Blog

Feeling Overwhelmed? Try These 6 Ways to Reduce Stress

We’ve put together a mix of quick-fix and long-term stress busters

We all have those days where our to-do lists get out of hand, a big project tests our limits, or life happens and interferes with our goals. Stress makes our hearts pound, our jaws tighten, and our focus go haywire. Sometimes we need a fast way to regain calm and other times we need to stop work altogether to recharge and come back stronger.

Get some exercise
Studies show that aerobic activities like running, cycling, walking, etc., reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. In short, exercise is good for both your physical and mental health. If you’re having a stressful day, packed with demanding tasks and meetings, be sure to schedule in some exercise. Even if it’s just a walk around the block while you brainstorm, you’ll reap the benefits of improved mood and focus. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day, and you’ll build this stress-reducer right into your lifestyle.

Go to a restorative yoga class
Increased stress can exacerbate tension or pain and vice versa. Our jobs place certain physical demands on our body. If you’re a rideshare driver, you might be dealing with low back pain from being in a car all day. If you’re a musician, you might carry tension in your neck, shoulders, and arms. And sitting at a desk can create a host of issues. A restorative yoga class, even just once a week, will help you work out these kinks and leave the stress on the mat. You’ll also learn poses you can do throughout the day when you feel tension building.

Take a few moments to meditate
If you’ve never tried meditation before, the idea may seem a little daunting. Think of meditation as a way to clear your mind and relax your body. You don’t need a huge chunk of time to meditate. That’s why it’s perfect if you’re feeling overwhelmed midday. Meditation can also help you fall asleep easier and reduce overall anxiety. Try an app like Headspace to find a practice that works for you.

Take some deep breaths
We breathe constantly for our survival, but the way we breathe can impact our stress levels. If you’re panicked about work, for example, you might be taking quick, shallow breaths into your chest and not fully using your diaphragm. That can intensify anxiety and tension. Instead, breathe deeply so that your belly moves. To learn science-backed breath work exercises you can do in a matter of minutes, read The Healing Power of the Breath.

Do one thing at a time
We live in a multitasking society. Our devices buzz with notifications, and we quickly react to them, even when we’re trying to complete an important task. Sometimes all it takes to reduce stress is to focus on the one thing you need to get done right now. It may help to turn off notifications or shut out other distractions.

Unplug
If stress has become a constant in your life, you may need to unplug. Spend a day enjoying a hobby or reading a book. Or take a vacation. If you’re too busy to take a day off, at least set a time every evening when you no longer focus on work or check emails. Allow yourself time to truly recharge.