Is stress stressing you out?

The American Institute of Stress lists the top 50 things that stress can do to you, from teeth clenching to becoming a compulsive gambler and impulse buyer. You have likely experienced stress and its effects on your mind, body, relationships, and more.

While the world may not be easing up on ways to make you feel stress, here are some practical, easy tools you can use to reduce stress. best of all, they don't cost a thing.

Your mind, body, soul, and relationships will thank you for incorporating these into your life.

Take a break to decrease the mental pressure and improve your focus.

 A 2011 study out of the University of Illinois Urbana suggested: "From a practical standpoint, our research suggests that, when faced with long tasks (such as studying before a final exam or doing your taxes), it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task!"

Set boundaries

An article in Psychology Today stated, "healthy boundaries allowed {us} to take better care of {ourselves}—emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. The article went on to say, "Clearly established boundaries help us to take care of ourselves emotionally, physically and spiritually. Our boundaries help us to become less concerned about how we are viewed and more satisfied with the perceptions we have of ourselves."

An article published on health.harvard.edu found that spending at least 20 to 30 minutes immersed in a nature setting was associated with the biggest drop in cortisol levels. The Japanese call this Forest Bathing.

In the study, 'spending time in nature' included 10 minutes or longer, three days a week for eight weeks, in an outdoor place where they could interact with nature. The settings varied from yards to public parks to green areas near their place of work. They also either walked or sat during their nature time.

Practice your 3-D breathing, 

A three-month, informal study conducted by an Integrative Movement Specialist using her dad with significant and advanced medical conditions of COPD, emphysema, diabetes, etc., showed how three-dimensional breathing could positively affect a physically stressed body. During the three months, she had him practice three-dimensional breathing, taking just 5-10 breaths three times per day, breathing in and out through his nose at a ratio of in for 3 seconds and out for 5-6 seconds. He monitored his pulse, O2, blood pressure, and blood sugar.  

Each recording showed an improvement in one or more areas.

Most often, there was an improvement in several stats. O2 readings would go up into the upper 90 in saturation, the pulse would slow down, blood pressure would come down, and from time to time, even his high blood sugar readings would drop a few points.

Imagine the physical stress taken off his body just by practicing three-dimensional breathing.

Spend time by yourself

An article in Forbes shares the thoughts of Psychotherapist and international bestselling mental strength author, Amy Morin.

In the article, she states several benefits of spending time alone one includes, "Studies show the ability to tolerate alone time has been linked to increased happiness, better life satisfaction, and improved stress management. People who enjoy alone time experience less depression."

I look forward to hearing how you used these tools or which ones you use that help decrease stress in your day.