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Stress is normal. Whether you're stuck inside sick, working through some winter blues or feeling a little overwhelmed with work, knowing how to handle stress is important.

What can you do about stress? When you're feeling emotionally upset, anxious or low, you have many options. Start by being emotionally honest with yourself about what you're feeling and then making time for important activities.

11 ways to calm down and beat stress from home (or nearby!)

1. Try deep breathing

New to deep breathing? Start by breathing in and out to the count of four.

Deep breathing lowers stress and anxiety. It can even help with pain. That's why it's a key part of our pain programs. Try four-square breathing. This is a technique done by professionals with high-stress jobs, like military and police officers, when they need to calm down quickly. Breathe in, pause, and breathe out slowly for four beats. Breathe in, slowly -- one, two, three, four. Hold in your breath for four seconds without forcing. Breathe out, slowly -- one, two, three, four.  

2. Meditate

Have you ever meditated before? 5-20 minutes can make a whole world of difference.

If you've never tried meditation, you might be surprised. There's extensive research to show the benefits of meditation. From stress, depression and even pain, meditation works wonders. Meditation can help stress relief, relaxation and getting in touch with uncomfortable emotions holding you back or causing you stress. 

3.Do progressive muscle relaxation.

Spend 10 minutes doing progressive muscle relaxation for a whole body calming effect.

Not sure what a progressive relaxation exercise is?  Have no fear! We'll explain it to you. In short, progressive muscle relaxation is the process of actively relaxing muscle by muscle. It's known to reduce muscle tension and decrease stress. If you're curious, grab your headphones, go lay down and listen to the guided whole-body muscle relaxation below.

8 other ideas for relieving stress and creating calm

Get creative to handle stress, a person painting

Go outside your thoughts or emotions and enjoy something else.

  • Take a quick walk: Walks are a great way to turn off and let go of stress. Even just a 10-minute walk has stress-reducing and positive emotion enducing benefits. Try walking for 10-30 minutes 3x/week and see if you feel any better. 
  • Do something artistic: When was the last time you lost yourself in a creative activity? When you get lost in a creative activity, it’s known as ‘flow’. A concept identified by ‎American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, spending more time in a ‘flow state’ can make us happier. Choose to spend 15 minutes coloring, painting, doodling, molding something with clay or arranging some flowers. 
  • Practice yoga:  Regular yoga practice increases calmness and positive emotions. Yoga involves connecting to the physical body and also breathing in a way that relaxes the mind. It’s a good whole body exercise that can be more or less intense depending on the type. Hatha or yin yoga are great types to start with, if you’re new to yoga. 
  • Do exercise: Exercise is good for mental health. Studies have shown that it can have a profound positive effect on depression, anxiety and stress. It can also improve self-esteem and positively impacts brain function.
Get creative to handle stress, a person painting

Be curious and honest. Challenge your to-do list.

  • Get real about your to-do lists: What can you realistically expect to accomplish today? Do you have 10 hours of work to fit into a 6 hour day? 
  • Name the emotion you’re feeling: Are you angry? Annoyed? Frustrated? Pinpoint the emotion and write anything you think about it. Once you identify and feel an emoiton, you’re on your way to solutioning it. 
  • Let go of things that add extra stress: Say ‘no’ to extra projects, if they don’t add anything positive to your life. Be conscious of how you feel as you do each activity, specifically social media. 
  • Make time for things you actively enjoy: Sometimes, we can become stressed because we don’t spend enough time on ourselves. Knowing what you enjoy and clearly communicating what you want to do is key to happiness and mental peace. Do you want more quiet time? More outdoor time? More intellectual work? Knowing those things can help you stay in control of your life and happiness.
  • Talk to a therapist: A professional can help you sort through issues in a fraction of the time it will take you by yourself. They can help you identify and address specific stressors and anxieties to work through. 

Want some professional help?

Join the thousands taking care of themselves with a holistic, patient-first approach.

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