March 27, 2023

In the heat of a stressful moment, you may need a few ways to destress, cope and take some pressure off yourself.

It’s important for physical and mental health to have ways to destress or manage your overall stress level. Getting enough sleep and regular exercise are two such tactics for counteracting life’s day-to-day stresses.

But sometimes life is especially stressful, and you need some self-calming techniques to help you cope in the middle of an upsetting moment or a bad day.

Consider these 3 tips for quick relief when your stress level is spiking:

Read the signs. Your body gives off signals when you feel stress. For example, some people experience headaches or muscle tension, or become easily distracted. Get in the habit of paying attention to your body’s cues. The quicker you can identify stress, the quicker you can squash it. 

Taking a few slow, deep breaths is an effective way to lower your heart rate and steady your emotions a bit in just a few seconds. 

Awaken your senses. Sight, sound, smell, taste, touch and movement are not just senses, they are tools. Besides deep breathing, use your imagination and experiment to find the right sensory techniques for you.

  • Sight: Keep cherished photos, keepsakes or a houseplant on display. Focus on their beauty and the happy associations they remind you of.
  • Sound: Listen to a favorite tune. Use a sound machine at night to play soothing sounds as you fall asleep.
  • Smell: Use an essential oil diffuser. Wear your favorite perfume or cologne.
  • Taste: Drink a warm cup of tea. Enjoy a minty piece of gum.
  • Touch: Wear soft clothing. Wrap yourself in a warm blanket.
  • Movement: Go for a walk. Take breaks during your workday to stand up and stretch if you sit most of the time.

Make relief a habit. It’s not always easy to remember destress tools in the moment. Practice makes any habit successful. Keep experimenting until you find the right techniques for you.

This post was provided by Health Plus, which provides resources to support the health of Vanderbilt faculty and staff.