5 Instant Ways To Counteract Stress When You're Feeling Overwhelmed
As anyone who lives in 2019 is well aware, stress happens—a lot. And it can be hard to find ways to make it go away, especially when we can't always control what's causing it in the first place.
The sneaky thing about stress is that many of us often don't start managing it until we're burned out, overwhelmed, or already reeling from its mental and physical effects. Getting a regular stress-reducing practice or outlet into your routine is priority one—think daily exercise, meditation, or adding aromatherapy to your wind down every night (lavender + peppermint + bergamot essential oils—trust us).
Then, whenever you feel you're hitting that point of overwhelm, try out these research-based tactics.
What to do if you need to calm down — right now.
1. Make a mental shift. How many times have you thought, "I have so much work to do, and I don't know how I'll get it all done in time," or "Nothing's going right; what else will I have to deal with today?" It's natural to feel helpless when you're stressed out, but while you can't control what happens around you, you are in control of how you choose to experience it. Opt out of that negative feedback loop by focusing on a constructive intention or simply jotting down your gratitude. A study published in Clinical Psychology Review found that individuals who kept gratitude journals reported better moods, less fatigue, more restful sleep, and even showed lowered levels of inflammation related to heart health—all in all, a simple recipe for decreased stress in the long run.
2. Take three deep belly breaths. Bouts of major stress, whether caused by a real fear of an imminent threat or perceived dangers like worrying you might lose your job, can trigger an autonomic fight-or-flight response. One way to break through this uncomfortable feeling is with deep, controlled breathing, which has been linked to lower stress levels. Breathwork is the core of ancient mind-and-body practices like yoga and meditation, but you can do a calming deep-breathing exercise anytime and anywhere you're experiencing a particularly stressful moment: Take several slow breaths, inhaling through your nose and expanding your belly, then exhaling through your mouth.
To make the most of this relaxation technique, we like to start by taking a serving of a high-quality CBD oil to help us get settled. Just one dropper-full of Charlotte's Web CBD Oil, taken each day or twice per day, is a simple way to experience the balancing effects of CBD, which works with our body's endocannabinoid system to support homeostasis. Charlotte's Web makes full-spectrum hemp extracts from hemp grown in the U.S. on family farms that is carefully tested over 20 times from seed to soil to bottle—which means you're getting high-quality CBD oil, the way nature intended. Charlotte's Web is created using proprietary hemp genetics, the same genetics that have been featured on CNN with Dr. Sanjay Gupta multiple times.
3. Put on some music. The "Mozart effect" is the real deal: Numerous studies have found that listening to music can alter brain activity and counteract the physiological signs of stress, making it an effective relaxation technique during stressful situations. It's no wonder music therapies and sound baths are becoming more and more common.
4. Laugh it off. You already know how great you feel when you have a good laugh—and you're not imagining it. Turns out, social laughter triggers the release of endorphins—one of our happiness-boosting hormones—and effectively helps lower cortisol levels, reducing some of the physical and mental effects of stress, according to research published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
5. Do something kind. Research from the Association for Psychological Science suggests that doing intentional, helpful acts for friends, acquaintances, and strangers—even if it's something small like holding a door open—could mitigate the impact of everyday stressors and even boost daily well-being. The study noted that a higher number of helpful acts correlated with higher levels of daily positive emotions and better overall mental health. Stash your favorite Charlotte's Web CBD Gummies formula (or even better, go for the CBD Gummies Mix Pack) in your gym bag or desk, so the next time your workout partner or colleague is feeling that everyday stress, you know what to do.
Krista Soriano is the Senior Branded Content Editor at mindbodygreen. She holds a B.A. in journalism with a minor in communications from Messiah College, graduating summa cum laude. She has written and edited lifestyle content for over 15 magazines and websites, including ELLE, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Women’s Health, Men’s Health, Runner’s World, and DuJour. At mbg, Soriano helps our partners—which include non-profits and Fortune 500 companies—tell their stories, covering everything from the future of regenerative agriculture, ethical banking, and the endocannabinoid system. She lives in New York.