How To Reduce Stress

The holiday season which usually brings great joy also can bring great stress. Now add in 8 months of the pandemic.  New rules for more isolation are almost too much to think about.  I was talking with my sister and sister-in-law last night on the phone. We’re all so bored and sick of everything – the TV, books, and our homes.  We just want to sit in the same room and be together.  Needless to say, my family is not coming to Florida for Christmas just as I did not go to Michigan last summer.  My sister suggested maybe they could come in February.  The truth is I do not believe it’s going to miraculaously go away in 3 months and they will not fly down.  

Our bodies are capable of adapting to challenging situations, but periods of prolonged stress may lead to exhaustion, physically and mentally.  Listen to your body, recognize the clues, and don’t let stress go that far. I am sitting here kind of sad and not highly motivated.  I’ve been kind of reviewing what I know I need to do to kick start my outlook. Maybe this will help you too.


I. Take A Deep Breath


Sometimes you need to take a step back and take a deep breath.  Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. This is because when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends the message to your body. The things that happen when you are stressed, such as increased heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure, all decrease as you breathe deeply to relax.


Deep breathing can help you relax and destress



There are lots of deep breathing exercises you can do.  If you’ve never tried it before, WebMD recommends starting with Belly Breathing.

Belly Breathing

It’s easy to do and very relaxing. Try this basic exercise anytime you need to relax or relieve stress.

  1. Sit or lie flat in a comfortable position.
  2. Put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest.
  3. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. Your chest should not move.
  4. Breathe out through pursed lips as if you were whistling. Feel the hand on your belly go in, and use it to push all the air out.
  5. Do this breathing 3 to 10 times. Take your time with each breath.
  6. Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise.

After you master Belly Breathing, you might want to check out more advanced deep breathing at WebMD.



II. Practice Mindfulness



Mindfulness is a technique that more people should try to practice and make use of. It’s about living in the moment and being mindful of your feelings, thoughts and emotions. When you’re taking this more intuitive approach to your health and mental wellbeing, you’ll be able spot warning signs earlier and cut that stress out of your life faster.




III. Smell The Flowers



Scent is closely related to memories. The smell of apples and cinnamon always make me feel warm, cozy, and safe.  Most of us have memories tied to certain scents whether it’s a certain flower or food.  Some scents also can help us stay relaxed  and relieve stress.  Essential oils are the easiest way to carry scents with you.  Need to calm your nerves? Take a deep whiff of lavender – one of the most popular scents in the world.  Use a diffuser at home.  Have a cotton ball with lavender with you at work and periodically take a deep breath and relax.  I suggest you carry a small bottle of essential oil in your purse.   It’s priceless in helping you destress through a hard day.



Lavender can help you relax, calm your mind, and aids sleeping.


Put a diffuser or essential oil candle by your bed – lavender will help you sleep and increase your well-being. It can calm your mind immediately.  Take a long soak in the tub with lavender bath salts.  A study of 42 female college students with insomnia found that essential oil of lavender eased sleep problems and depression in the students.


Another scent that destresses is pine. A Japanese study found that subjects who walked in a pine forest reported significantly lower depression and stress levels.  The exercise helps lower stress but the pine trees added to the healthier outcome. Have pine trees in your yard? In the midst of winter, pine cuttings in the home will increase everyone’s well-being. Christmas is coming, and beautiful  arrangements of greenery can fill your home with the scent of pine. I also suggest you replace the cuttings after Christmas and keep them in January. Next time you buy a bunch of flowers, add a few sprigs of pine. Did you know pine bark and needles contain vitamin C?  The original people of Canada used to drink pine tea  for their health. 




Pine can relieve stress


Tomorrow I am sharing a stovetop potpourri that will fill your home with wonderful scents of the holiday season.  Stay tuned!




IV. Don’t Rely on Caffeine to Get You Through the Day


For many business people, one of the things that gets them through the day is caffeine. If you rely on coffee and caffeine to keep you going, your wellbeing will inevitably suffer as a result of this. Caffeine is great but it also puts us on edge and it can make us get stressed out and anxious even faster, and that’s obviously not what you want to be dealing with from day to day.




V. Lower Stress Hormones Via Exercise


Another thing that’s very good at lowering your stress levels is exercise. If you’ve never given too much thought to how exercise can help you to combat stress better, now is the time to change that. When you’re active, your body releases hormones that counteract stress and actually lower the stress hormones in your body, so it’s something that’s backed up by science. Try to make the most of this.




VI. Ask for Help



There’s nothing wrong with asking for help, so if you want to make sure that you’re never overwhelmed, you should ask for help when you need it. That goes for everything from talking to friends or family, seeing a medical professional, to asking for a bit of extra help at work to getting help with any legal troubles you might have. If you’re trying to take on a personal injury case, it’s better to use personal injury attorneys with contingency fee billing than to do it alone. And it’s better to call on professionals for assistance no matter the situation. 



VII.  Spend More Time Being Social



Being social is something that can help us feel better connected, less alone and less stressed out when life seems to be getting on top of us. If you’re looking to improve your situation and to make sure that you don’t feel stressed out all the time, you should definitely think about how you can spend more of your time being social with those closest to you in life. It really will make a difference for you and for them too.  With the pandemic and distance, use the phone and computer to talk often.  Know someone who lives alone?  Give them a call.  It will help both of you.



VIII. Don’t be Afraid to Say No


Sometimes in life, you simply have to say no. Not everyone is comfortable with doing that though. When you feel as if you’re always being asked to help out and asked to give up your time for the benefit of others, you can feel obliged to say yes and help out. But sometimes you simply have to step back and make it clear that you have to put yourself first and prioritize your own tasks and responsibilities before taking on those of other people.




The pandemic is still with us and the holidays are here.  Holidays have always been a stressful time.  Advent starts next Sunday.  Even though I just suggested we should not let others take advantage of us,  I suggest we think of those around us more and be less focused on ourselves.  Use the ideas of Advent Acts of Kindness to start thinking of ways to be a good neighbor, a good friend, and a good wife and mother during this stressful time. Small acts of kindness can make a difference for you and the recipient.   Wishing you all love and peace.






I was raised in Tennessee but have lived in Florida for many years. Love my small home in the Tampa Bay area and its developing garden. My decorating style is eclectic - some vintage, some cottage, all with a modern flair. Pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Spent many years in social services but am happily retired.

I love to make new friends and get to know you.

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