Laughing is my all-time favorite stress reducer. Laughing with friends, laughing alone, laughing in the shower, laughing in my sleep. Laughter relaxes muscles, lowers blood pressure and eases mental tension. Researchers find that laughter may also reduce levels of hormones that both elicit stress responses and suppress immunity.
Keeping plans realistic with respect to available time and physical/mental resources is important in managing stress. Some of us write lists and we can get carried away. If my list is longer than there are hours in the day, I might want to work on how I plan my day. Going out to dinner on Friday night can be lots of fun, but for some people it is the wrong night of the week. If you are getting off work at 5 p.m. and have plans to go meet someone for dinner an hour away and you get caught up in rush hour traffic, you have to ask yourself, “what is wrong with this plan?”
Breathe. The reason meditation and yoga are so effective in reducing stress levels is that people learn how to breathe. The way you breathe can influence your mind, your body and your mood. The mere act of focusing on your breathing is relaxing, even if you do nothing else. Take time for yourself. Sometimes we just need to sit quietly by ourselves and let the lungs fill up with air and release the stress we are carrying around.
Another good stress reducer is to talk to friends. Do things with your friends that you enjoy and that put you at ease. Talk to your friends when you are struggling and ask them for help. Women are more prone to take advantage of friendships as a stress breaker then men. However, men do release stress by getting together with friends and doing physical activities, such as playing basketball, or working out. Any type of physical activity, including sex, can be effective in helping to control stress.