Updated: Dec 22, 2018
So much about our mental health is about physicality. Solutions to stress are no different. If we want to reduce stress in our lives we focus on the causes of it. That's very much good of course! Yet so much of our stress can already be relieved if we accept that it is a physical thing too. Your body is just producing as little too much cortisol. The good news is that cortisol can be reduced instantly. How? By doing explicitly physical things. Such as...
Shaking is my personal favorite. It's what animals do after a anxious situation, to relieve themselves of stressful feelings immediately. It's also what athletes do to shake of the anxiety that builds up just before their match or race. It's what performers do just before they go on stage to pump up the good feelings. They jump, they shake, they growl, they heave a big sigh. And it's what you can do when you have feelings of stress: just start to shake lightly and let your body shake off the stress naturally. A few minutes can already be enough.
Singing - even if you can't really sing - is a great way to relief stress instantly. Music in general is one of the few things we know of that unifies our left and right brain functions. This is essential to stop overthinking and make our thoughts and feelings truly become one. Plus, when you sing you exhale a lot of air. This means your body is signaled to slow down the production of cortisol and ease the heartbeat and breathing. Here too, a few minutes can already be enough. So the neighbors won't have too endure too much...
Dancing has of course a similar effect as shaking and singing. Again, it's the physicality of it all. Your left and right brain communicate, your heartbeat goes up in the right way, your breathing adjusts itself and the overthinking stops.
Stretching is also a natural and quick stress reduction technique. The stretches that will help the most are those that open up your body. Arms wide and open, swinging from left to right, legs long and far... everything that feels like opening up. This of course is especially good to do in the office where singing and dancing might not be very appropriate. Stretching relieves stress instantly. Yet I do recommend to do it for at least fifteen minutes or longer, so your body can truly relax into it.
Belly breathing is also a physical way to reduce stress fast. When you are stressed, your energy goes 'upward' in the body and you naturally start to breathe from the chest. Sinking the breathing, just easily and without too much emphasis, is perfect for getting that cortisol under control again. Just watch the belly go up and down and don't stress about the breathing itself. Should work in minutes.
That's it for now. We could talk about many more things of course, including martial arts or the walk. But the most important thing to remember is that stress is equally mentally driven as physically produced. If you accept this then anything physical, even the lightest of movements, can already reduce stress greatly.
And take it easy. Love.