Excessive levels of stress can put the brakes on our productivity big time.
Having a set of tools to reduce stress levels in the short term but also long term is a real game changer. I’ve limited this list to things you can do yourself and requires a limited toolset.
Here’s my list, ordered from the quickest/easiest to perform(not most effective!):
- Physiological sigh.
- Eating carbohydrate. Reduces cortisol and adrenaline. Fruit or starch is preferable, refined sugar not recommended for many reasons.
- Diaphragmatic breathing. More effective when done lying on your back. If you have a heart rate tracker you can find the breathing pace that produces the biggest amplitude in heart rate. This is around 6 breaths/min for most.
- Muscle relaxation. Focus on relaxing your muscles as much as possible. Start from the head and work your way down to your feet.
- Silence. The sounds and high levels of loudness in most cities can really jack up your nervous system. Put on some noise-cancelling headphones(no music) and play some nature type sounds(water, forest, rain, etc.). Add earplugs underneath for extra sound reduction.
- Walking. Outside in nature is best but a treadmill is also fine.
- Nature therapy(ART). Just sitting down and viewing nature for a few minutes can be very restorative.
- Meditation. Not necessary to have eyes closed or be somewhere secluded. I prefer open monitoring meditation when in busy places.
- Activating the mammalian dive response. Most effective if you submerge your face(cheeks, forehead, eyes…whole head isn’t necessary) in cool water(10-15 celcius). But splashing cool water on the face can still have an effect.
- Napping. Naps are by far the best way to reduce stress but are unfortunately not always practical. 10-30 minutes is optimal if not sleep deprived. Don’t nap late in the afternoon or less than 5 hours before nighttime sleep.
There can be a large variance from person to person in how effective these tools are. Try a few for a few days and see what works for you.