5 stress management techniques will introduce you to various techniques for purposefully dissipating stress.
Specifically, this article will cover topics such as meditation, yoga, breathing techniques, art, and physically relieving stress.
Stress is a silent killer and seriously decimates quality of life. Learn how to meditate and practice yoga, look into breathing techniques, discover art as a stress busting therapy, and engage in physical activity. Severe and prolonged stress is dangerous and should be addressed as soon as possible.
Be sure to read on because chances are you can learn a thing or two about managing stress and with 5 stress management techniques, you’re spoiled for choice!
Table of Contents
- 1 5 stress management techniques: Introduction
- 2 Meditation to reduce stress: Technique 1
- 2.1 Five different meditation forms
- 2.2 Apps that can help you meditate
- 3 Yoga to combat stress: Technique 2
- 4 Breathing techniques to relax: Technique 3
- 5 Art as a therapy to contain stress: Technique 4
- 6 Physically venting stress: Technique 5
- 7 Tips for managing stress optimally
- 8 5 stress management techniques: Conclusion
5 stress management techniques: Introduction
Experiencing stress for long periods is detrimental to our health. It leads to various health problems such as obesity and reduced sleep quality.
Do you regularly suffer from headaches and stress, for example, because you are overworked? Or because you are short of hands for household chores?
Then listen to your body and the signals it gives. Addressing and reducing stress should be a primary goal if you wish to live as healthy and as long as possible!
Get to know about 5 stress management techniques that will definitely help reduce stress.
Meditation to reduce stress: Technique 1
There are different types of meditation to relax and dissipate stress.
Choose a form of meditation that suits you best and try to meditate for 15 minutes every day. Research shows that this is already sufficient to experience a positive effect.
Meditating at a set time is a good idea to sustain meditation in the long run (for example, every morning, afternoon, or evening).
Meditating in the morning is highly recommended because it gets you off to a great start in your day.
From the many varieties of meditation, we suggest 5 interesting types of meditation:
Five different meditation forms
In mindfulness meditation, you try to bring your attention to the here and now all the time. Here your attention must be both mild and open:
- Mild attention means accepting even the less beautiful aspects of yourself (which come up when you have an open mind).
- Open implies paying attention to pleasant and unpleasant feelings.
Common techniques include paying attention to your breathing and the body scan. In doing so, you become aware of every part of your body.
You can easily apply mindfulness meditation throughout the day, allowing you to consciously experience what is happening around you at different times.
For example, you can cycle mindfully, walk mindfully, eat mindfully, look mindfully at passersby, etc.
Tip: Mindfulness can also help when you’re trying to kick an old habit and change it into a new one, read our other article for more details: How Does Mindfulness Help with Changing Your Habits and Behavior?
Meditating with mantras
This form of meditation is also known as Japa and is one of the oldest forms of meditation.
This involves using certain words or sounds that bring mental peace. Transcendental meditation, for example, works with mantras that you receive from a facilitator.
One particular mantra is Om (pronounced al “aum” or “ah-oo-mm”). Indeed, Om is considered a primal sound in several Eastern traditions.
A mantra can be repeated internally or spoken, or chanted aloud.
Singing has the benefit of vibrations also producing a physical effect and providing deep, calm breathing.
Loving Kindness Meditation (LKM)
Compassion and mercy are the 2 basic concepts at the heart of Loving Kindness Meditation.
This form of meditation helps you get rid of anger. This annoying feeling gets in the way of happiness and harmony.
In LKM, you first try to envision a peaceful image of yourself and then internally say the following: “May I be happy, may I be healthy, may I be safe, may I be free from all suffering.”
In the next step, you do the same thing again, not for yourself but for someone close to your heart. You then change “I” by the name of the person you like.
Finally, you extend this to multiple people such as your family, friends, sports team, neighborhood committee, and so on to all living things if you wish.
This form of meditation can be very healing for people who have been wronged but also for people who have harmed others.
It also helps to accept yourself better and let go of excessive self-criticism.
Research shows that Loving Kindness Meditation brings about positive emotions and makes people more empathetic. And positive attitude and empathy are really two qualities that our world strongly needs today!
This form of meditation starts from the observation that when you visualize something in your mind, it can then affect you as if you were actually experiencing it.
For example, visualizing a tasty apple can activate your salivary glands even if there is no apple at all nearby.
Several studies show that people who train only in their thoughts become stronger, just as if they had actually trained.
By visualizing what you want to accomplish, you help yourself on your way to that goal.
And that goal can really be anything, such as a promotion at work, a physical achievement, losing a certain number of pounds, gaining better health, becoming more confident, becoming more persistent and disciplined, etc.
In guided meditation, you listen to someone give directions to meditate.
This may be through personal contact, a group, or otherwise.
Nowadays, there are also a lot of meditations available online.
Guided meditation is very suitable for those who have no previous meditation experience and those who are reluctant to meditate alone.
Apps that can help you meditate
Thousands of smartphone apps have been developed to help people meditate.
The following 5 meditation apps are really among the best on the market, in our opinion:
Stop, breathe, and think
This application allows you to enter your own feeling state as a starting point for your meditation moment.
Based on that, you can then begin specific meditations that fit your mood and feeling of the moment.
Meditation is tailored to your mood of the moment, in other words!
This application for meditating is especially interesting for getting a holistic view of your overall health!
Thus, you can perfectly combine this application with other registrations and measurements such as your blood pressure and heart rate.
So thanks to this app, you can get a clean and general picture of the effect of meditation on your overall health.
Smiling Mind is a smartphone app made specifically for children and teens.
The younger users of this application to meditate are invited on a special trip to the land of Mindfulness…
For the very young, teenagers and adolescents, this smartphone application is fascinating to get in touch with the concept of meditation in a cool way.
This smartphone app is primarily aimed at the business world and then, more specifically, at the well-being of employees.
The Whil application is of particular interest to companies that aim to make their employees feel better through meditation.
This application offers numerous possibilities to keep track of the evolution, which after a while provides a good insight for the meditating employee himself…
And also, the company can gain interesting insights through it.
The Headspace application is one of the most popular meditation apps for smartphones.
Depending on what you want to accomplish, you can choose from hundreds of different meditation sessions.
Meditation sessions are available around themes such as sports, health, performance, relationships, love, friendship, stress, etc.
Yoga to combat stress: Technique 2
Like meditation, yoga is a technique that was developed over many centuries in the East and, especially in the last few decades, has seen a tremendous rise in popularity in the West.
Yoga and meditation are not so different
It is tempting to argue that the two are very different because yoga is about physical techniques and meditation is about thoughts…
But that, unfortunately, is a typical Western dualistic view of mind and body.
After all, yoga is part of a philosophical tradition that goes far beyond mere physical exercises.
In fact, with the help of yoga, you try to control the mind, emotions, and urges optimally to achieve peace and balance.
The health effects of yoga are mainly similar to those of meditation. But by performing the corresponding movements and postures, yoga is ideally suited to keep your body supple and limber.
6 types of yoga
There are many varieties of yoga.
Depending on your situation, abilities, and desires, you can choose and try one of the following yoga variants:
Prana Yoga Flow
Prana yoga contains elements from several other yoga forms. Pran means life force.
The exercises of a Prana Yoga Flow session focus on physical, mental, and spiritual aspects.
Yin yoga focuses mainly on the joints and connective tissue, making you more supple and flexible.
Yoga nidra is a very gentle form of yoga performed lying down.
This form leads to deep relaxation and can help with sleep problems, expelling stress and anxiety.
Bikram yoga is a particular case of yoga because it is done in a hot room of 104° Fahrenheit.
During a classic Bikram yoga session, a set series of 26 exercises is performed each time, which can be quite challenging and intense.
In Kundalini yoga, much attention goes to the breath, and work with mantras and chakras.
The spiritual dimension comes out strongly here.
This popular yoga form focuses on breathing and specific postures (asanas).
You can learn these step by step that will make you relax and make your body more flexible and stronger.
Some tips for practicing yoga
- There are numerous online yoga programs with clear and helpful instructions and guidelines. One of them, for example, is the Daily Yoga application for smartphones.
- Yoga is quite safe but don’t force it and build up slowly.
- Shortly before starting a yoga session, it is better not to eat or at least not to eat too heavily.
- Music can make yoga more enjoyable, and the tunes can help you get in the right mood and persevere. There are specific yoga playlists on YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Music that can get you started. Or, of course, you can just choose your own music that you like.
- Keeping up with yoga is more successful if you practice it in groups at certain times (for example, once or twice a week). In addition, it is best to include shorter sessions of 10 to 15 minutes daily on your own. It’s best to do this at a set time, so it becomes a habit. Ideally, start your day with 10 to 15 minutes of yoga (possibly followed by 10 to 15 minutes of meditation).
- There are also particular forms of yoga for specific people and situations. For example, there is pregnancy yoga or yoga for people with cancer.
- Yoga is basically suitable for everyone. So don’t be fooled into thinking you are too old, too fat, too sick, or whatever. It’s not true. Yoga is genuinely accessible to everyone!
Breathing techniques to relax: Technique 3
Can you consciously control your heart rate and blood pressure? The classic answer is “no” because it is done by the autonomic nervous system.
You can’t control your heart rate and blood pressure to go down or up by simple mind control.
Indirectly regulate your heart rate and blood pressure through breathing
But there is an indirect way to regulate your heart rate and blood pressure through breathing.
Through a simple breathing technique, anyone can calm down within a minute, activating the parasympathetic nervous system.
Similarly, you can lower your stress level in as little as 60 seconds. And this is particularly useful when you have to perform an important but stressful action, for example.
Think about giving a speech, giving a decisive penalty kick in a sports match, playing a more difficult passage during a piece of music, having an important conversation, or when an initial provocation threatens to turn into aggression.
Breathing is the link between meditation and yoga. A breathing technique is something that anyone can apply at any time, even without anyone else noticing.
This allows you to quickly create the calmness needed to control your nerves and focus on what you want to accomplish instead of becoming the plaything of your emotions.
This skill is also known as emotion regulation.
5 breathing exercises to reduce stress
Below we share some breathing exercises that you can easily try yourself:
Lie on your back and put your hand on your belly.
Make sure your belly goes up when you inhale and down when you exhale.
You breathe in and out slowly and quite deeply.
The best way to do that is to breathe in and out through the nose, although you can also breathe in through the nose and out through your mouth.
In this simple technique, introduced by British physician Rangan Chatterjee, you breathe in while counting to 4. When exhaling, count to 5 (1 beat longer).
Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT)
Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) is a promising technique developed to help patients in intensive care units get off artificial respiration.
It was later found that the technique has several effects that are also useful in other conditions (for example, in people recovering from heart surgery).
By the way, the technique is also used to improve sports performance.
The principle is to use a simple device in your mouth to strengthen your breathing muscles.
During the exercise, it seems like you have to breathe through a narrow opening that offers resistance, which strengthens your respiratory muscles.
Research suggests that you can achieve remarkable results with as little as 30 of those breaths (equivalent to about 5 to 6 minutes of practice), such as increased lung capacity, heart rate variability, and improved endurance.
This is a form of meditation where your attention is focused on your breathing.
However, the idea is not to change anything about your breathing with mindful breathing.
You just observe and pay attention, for example, to how the breath flows through your nose or how your chest and abdomen move. Usually, this mindful approach will cause you to spontaneously slow down and breathe deeper.
This breathing technique specifically aims to stimulate the vagus nerve (hence “vagal” breathing), thereby stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system.
In doing so, inhale slowly for 6 counts and then exhale slowly for 6 counts, preferably using abdominal breathing (see first breathing technique above).
You could possibly use an app, pacer, or website that shows you exactly when to breathe in and out.
Art as a therapy to contain stress: Technique 4
Perhaps this technique sounds a little strange to the ears. Still, today there is increasing scientific interest in using art as therapy.
After all, it turns out that people engaged in art experience more well-being.
While the relationship could also be the other way around (that people who feel good are more engaged in art), it is not at all crazy to assume that art can have a beneficial effect on us.
Because it calms you, but perhaps also because you can recognize the familiar human feelings of the artist.
Art can also express difficult or impossible feelings to put into words.
You can think of a visit to a museum or gallery as a form of mindfulness, pausing for a moment to consider specific (art) objects. Thus, it provides a mental resting place.
By the way, you don’t have to be a connoisseur at all, like everything, or even understand it. Anyone who has ever been touched by art will know what a good feeling this can give!
Especially with music, the effects are sometimes stunning. For example, in people with advanced dementia, songs from childhood and adolescence are often the last things to trigger a response.
For example, several neurologists at home and abroad play comatose patients’ favorite music to try to bring them back to consciousness (like that fantastic dj set from David Guetta at that unforgettable music festival at which the patient in question was present for several days and also stayed overnight at the campsite with all his/her camping gear ).
Reading also appears to have beneficial effects. For example, research shows that people who read feel better and live longer.
Even stronger is the effect when you actively practice art yourself. For example, when you play music yourself, just about every part of your brain becomes active.
Learning to play an instrument also allows for developing new connections in your brain, something that was thought impossible for a long time.
Moreover, the beneficial effect of music is independent of your age! In other words, you are never too old to learn to play an instrument!
Physically venting stress: Technique 5
A final technique under the pillar of stress management is to (physically) relieve stress.
In fact, physical activity including going camping appears to be one of the best ways to address stress.
The form of this exertion can be anything and therefore varies: cycling, swimming, walking, working in the garden and mowing the lawn or digging a well, organizing a training session on an elliptical, working out at a sports club, doing sit-ups, etc.
Tips for managing stress optimally
Finally, here are some tips on how to manage stress optimally:
Sex can be a great way to de-stress.
Just be careful how and with whom because otherwise, it might become a source of stress. Make love safely and with contraceptives to avoid disease and pregnancy.
Dancing is an excellent way to relieve stress (and it has numerous other benefits).
Make time for yourself
For example, retreating to the vegetable garden, reading a book, listening to music, or going out on your own for a change…
Have contact with animals
Having contact with animals can be very helpful in cases of acute stress, especially in cases of anger.
A dog you walk with, a cat you caress, a bunny that comes to nibble a carrot, sheep you meet and throw some grass, a curious horse that comes to watch at the fence…
Animals can be real lightning rods for your stress…
Take a short walk
It sounds trite, but the effect of a walk cannot be underestimated, especially in cases of acute stress.
A 30-minute walk, for example, will already reduce your stress.
Hiking can be done anywhere, but hiking in nature is particularly healing.
In addition, it is also good to incorporate exercise as a daily routine in your life.
This can be done, for example, by walking or biking to work (or other stressful encounters such as training or evening classes).
Pause before you react
This can be either a response to an email or an action.
Many problems arise because people overlook this rule!
Never react immediately but let everything sink in first. And respond only when you have cooled down and become less emotional.
5 stress management techniques: Conclusion
In this article, you were introduced to stress management techniques such as meditation, yoga, breathing techniques, art, and physically relieving stress.
These techniques can help you reduce your stress and improve your overall health.
Severe and prolonged stress is dangerous and should be addressed as soon as possible. Above, you can choose from several ways to relieve your stress.
Depending on your character, attitude, values, and goals, you can select a particular technique from our 5 stress management techniques to relieve your stress