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DIY Stress Relief

Wouldn’t it be nice if doctors could prescribe medicine or perform procedures that would relieve stress for you? Unfortunately, they can’t: stress relief is a do-it-yourself (DIY) project.

Although TRE® is the linchpin of our stress-relief program, here are some tried-and-true stress-relief tools, most of them free. The more of these you try, the better you’ll feel. What do you have to lose?


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Shake

If you gain only one thing from this website, remember this: If you find yourself trembling or shaking after feeling overwhelmed (whether for positive or negative reasons), please allow the shaking to continue. When you shake, your body is re-regulating your nervous system. This energy will remain in your body until you discharge it. If you’re in a situation in which you have to stop the trembling or shaking, you can pick up where you left off later with TRE.

 

Yawn

Yawning, like deep breathing, is a good in-the-moment tool to relieve stress. Clicking the button below will take you to an article about Olympic Gold medalist Appolo Ono, who uses yawning as a secret weapon. Besides what the article points to in terms of brain effects, yawning also activates the vagus nerve, down-regulating the stress response system temporarily.

 

Relax deeply with yoga nidra

Yoga nidra is systematic guided relaxation that you do lying down while listening to recorded instructions. Clicking the link below takes you to a recording by Richard Miller, Ph.D, who has been instrumental in establishing yoga nidra in the United States. To make it more acceptable to the military, where it is used with veterans, Miller also calls yoga nidra "iRest," which is short for integrative restoration.  

 

Try guided visualization

If you find meditation challenging, guided visualization might work better for you. It engages your imagination and all of your senses. Psychotherapist and author Belleruth Naparstek is the queen of guided visualization. Clicking the button below will take you to her Health Journeys website. To receive a free download of a guided visualization, sign up for her newsletter (you can always unsubscribe.)


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Breathe

Can spending a minute devoted to a specific breathing technique twice a day reduce stress? You bet it can. It causes your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) to stand down and gives your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) an opportunity to restore balance. Clicking the button below will take you to a video in which Dr. Andrew Weil demonstrates the 4-7-8 breathing technique.

 

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Put feelings into words

Can repressing your emotions and being unable to communicate with the people you’re closest to cause stress?

Definitely. But there’s a tool that can help you easily identify and communicate your emotions.

Clicking the button below will take you to the website for the Mixed Emotions card deck, which was created by our very own Petra Martin.

 

Write

Research shows that writing expressively enhances immune function. “Writing about traumatic experience for as little as fifteen or twenty minutes a day for three or four days can produce measurable changes in physical and mental health,” says Dr. James Pennebaker, who pioneered a study on the effects of writing on the immune system. Clicking the button below takes you to Louise DeSalvo's book, Writing as a Way of Healing: How Telling Our Stories Transforms Our Lives.

 

Do what you're good at

Find out what you’re good at with this simple test. Rocking your strengths helps combat stress.


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Meditate

Study after study shows that meditation can benefit you down to the DNA level. Not sure how to get started? Not to worry. With Headspace, you’re on your way. Clicking the button below will take you to the Headspace website, where you can sign up for a free trial that enables you to experience a guided 10-minute “clinical meditation” session using your smart phone or computer.

 

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Move

What can you do in only 30 minutes a day that can benefit you in just almost every area of your life? Move. Click the button below and watch a video titled “23 and 1/2 hours.”

 

Accept what is

Is it stressful to resist what you can’t change? It sure is. Byron Katie calls this "arguing with reality."

Your body responds to your thoughts and fears as if they were actually manifesting. 

Learn to accept and appreciate what is and stop worrying about what isn’t through conscious inquiry.

Clicking the button below will take you to a page on Byron Katie’s website that gives instructions for doing what she calls “The Work.”

 

Wait 90 seconds

When you feel an unpleasant emotion, apply neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor's 90-second rule. An emotion lasts for 90 seconds, she says. "Once triggered, the chemical released by my brain surges through my body and I have a physiological experience. Within 90 seconds from the initial trigger, the chemical component of my anger has completely dissipated from my blood and my automatic response is over. If, however, I remain angry after those 90 seconds have passed, then it is because I have chosen to let that circuit continue to run.”

Observe emotions without judgment, and they will dissipate.