3 Ways to Relieve Stress Naturally
If you’re reading this, you’ve got one or more of these: a new baby, a busy job, friends, family, social activities, and more . . . it’s no wonder you’re stressed!
Yoga, deep breathing, exercise, meditation—you know all of these are great natural ways to cope with stress, but you barely have time to brush your hair, much less get on the mat or om your way to total bliss. If only you had a fast and effective way to stop stress in its tracks.
Turns out—you do. At your fingertips.
In my work as a tapping coach using Emotional Freedom Techniques and Thought Field Therapy-Algorithms, I have the joy of helping people get rid of their stress. Most of the time, both my clients and I feel more refreshed and relaxed at the end of a session. I use a modern technique to literally tap in to the centuries-old healing power of acupressure. The best part is, you can use it on yourself, and it can work fast.
When I work one-on-one with people we can go deep into sources of stress and change long-held patterns so that you simply don’t react to stressors the way you used to. But you can also just apply what I call “first aid” techniques to de-stress in the middle of your busy day.
Here are 3 different ways to address your stress, plus one fun idea you can do alone, or with your toddler! Try one or all.
1. Connect To Your Heart
Simply close your eyes and put both hands over your heart. Let your mind bring up a favorite memory or place. Breathe a few gentle breaths as you enjoy the memory, not trying to alter your breathing, just letting it flow in and out like ocean waves. Simply be nice to yourself. If possible, give yourself a minute to bask in this feeling. If you don’t have a minute, try for five breaths. Almost any situation can wait long enough for you to take five breaths.
2. Tap Without Words
Simply notice what’s bothering you and where you feel it in your body. Then use the first two fingers of one hand to gently tap these points:
- The inside corner of your eyebrow, right next to your nose
- Under your eye on your eye socket, about the center of your eye
- Under your arm on the side of the body, right about the middle of the bra strap (or a hands-width down from your armpit)
- Under your collarbone, just about an inch to one side of the middle of your chest.
Notice now how you feel now about what was bothering you, and how it feels in your body. You may be amazed at how quickly the intensity of the feeling will start to go down. You can repeat this technique to see how low you can bring it.
This is from Thought Field Therapy-Algorithms, one of the techniques I use with my clients. TFT was recently accepted as evidence based in the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP).
3. Tapping and Talking About It
When it’s important to you to put things into words, try this technique. You can do the following out loud, or just mentally.
Describe what’s bothering you, such as: “My to do list is making me crazy!”
Name where you feel that in your body, if you do: “My stomach is tight.”
Give yourself some self-acceptance: “I accept how I feel right now.”
Now put all this together in a really simple statement of how you feel: Even though my to-do list is making me crazy and my stomach is tight, I accept how I feel right now. You can change the last part of the phrase to anything positive that makes you comfortable.
Now, starting at the inside corner of the eyebrow near the nose, gently tap several times (5 or more taps) on each of the points shown in the diagram.
You can start at the top of the head and work down, or tap in any order you like. You can tap on either side of the body, or use both hands and tap both sides at once.
Silently or out loud, repeat brief reminders of your statement as you tap, such as “making me crazy” or “this tightness in my stomach.” Stick to the statement you started with rather than letting your mind wander and gather even more things to stress about.
One round will take under 20 seconds. Now, check in with the feeling, thought, and/or sensation you first identified. Notice a drop in your stress level, a change in your thoughts, or a lessening of the sensation? Great, that’s what you’re looking for. Feel free to repeat the rounds until you feel more relaxed and in control of your thoughts.
You don’t have to get 100% improvement. Even if you only notice a small shift at first, you may be surprised an hour or so later when you realize that your mood has changed or your feeling of stress has lifted.
Bonus Tip: Play “Smell The flower, Blow The Bubble”
Here’s a playful way to tackle your stress that I learned from Steve Gross of the Life Is Good Kids Foundation, an expert in using play to help kids heal from adverse childhood experiences.
This is something you can do yourself just for the fun of it. But if you have a child old enough to play pretend or follow your actions, it’s a wonderful way to introduce them to a relaxation technique.
Pretend you have a beautiful flower in one hand, and a bubble wand in the other. First, bring the pretend flower to your nose and smell its glorious perfume. Then, bring the bubble wand to your lips and gently blow a huge bubble. Rinse and repeat.
See what you did there? While playing pretend with a flower and a bubble wand, you were also doing deep rhythmic breathing. Good job!