10 Ways to Combat Stress

November 09, 2021

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!):

  1. Physiological sigh.
  2. Eating carbohydrate. Reduces cortisol and adrenaline. Fruit or starch is preferable, refined sugar not recommended for many reasons.
  3. 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.
  4. Muscle relaxation. Focus on relaxing your muscles as much as possible. Start from the head and work your way down to your feet.
  5. 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.
  6. Walking. Outside in nature is best but a treadmill is also fine.
  7. Nature therapy(ART). Just sitting down and viewing nature for a few minutes can be very restorative.
  8. Meditation. Not necessary to have eyes closed or be somewhere secluded. I prefer open monitoring meditation when in busy places.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

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Focus Armoury Writing about productivity and motivation.