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April 13, 2020 5 min read

Raise your hand if you could use some stress relief right now! Like many of us, regular day to day life as well as current events that switch things up has led to increased levels of stress and anxiety. The negative effects of stress can have a profound impact on our life. Long-term, chronic stress is associated with heart disease, sleep disorders, mental health issues, and much more.

Before we dive into some hacks to reduce stress and anxiety, let's first discuss some of the different types of stress.

According to the American Psychological Association, "More than three-quarters of adults report physical or emotional symptoms of stress, such as headache, feeling tired or changes in sleeping habits."

Types of stress

They also explain that the three types of stress are:

  • Acute stress: The most common form of stress which is usually caused by reactive thinking to a perceived threat (including a specific phobia) that is either physical, emotional, or psychological. Acute stress is associated with varying forms of emotional distress, as well as physical symptoms like stomach problems and headaches.
  • Episodic acute stress:Those who experience frequent bouts of acute stress may be diagnosed with episodic acute stress disorder. The extended frequent over-arousal or extended hyper-arousal of your nervous system can lead to ongoing damage and pain. It's associated with more obvious or serious physical and mental symptoms, like extreme emotional distress, high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and even immune system compromise.
  • Chronic stress:Chronic, long-term stress can lead to irreversible physical and mental damage if left untreated. This type of stress could be caused by childhood experiences or a traumatic event later in life.

10 hacks to reduce stress and anxiety

Professional help can be critical for dealing with some types of stress. But the good news is, there are plenty of things you can do right now to help your body and mind deal with stressors.

Here are 10 hacks for anxiety and stress relief.

Limit your caffeine

Your morning cup of joe might seem like the only thing getting you through the day, but consuming too much could be making things worse for you. Studies have found that high doses of caffeine can actually make your anxiety worse.

If you're drinking several cups a day, try cutting back slowly to see if this affects your stress levels.

Exercise

If exercise isn't already part of your regular routine, you could be missing out on one of the most effective forms of stress relief! Interestingly, certain physical stress (like a walk or lifting weights) can help lighten the stress load on the brain. In addition to lowering the body's stress hormones, exercise has many other useful benefits. It can help improve sleep quality, boost your mood, and give you the confidence you've been looking for.

Journaling for stress relief

Journaling can be an incredible stress reliever. You might find simply writing down a few things you're grateful for each day has a powerful effect on your anxiety and stress levels. It can take a while to get into the habit, but stick with it and wait for the positive effects!

Many people make journaling part of their mindful morning routine. For tips on establishing your own morning routine, have a look at this post.

Laughter

Would you believe something as simple as laughing could help lower or limit your stress response? According to several studies, it's true!

Laughter can also help you relax your tense muscles, like your clenched jaw or shoulders. Some people find they laugh the most while watching a funny movie or show. Others might get the biggest kick out of spending time with friends and family. Find what works best for you!

Deep breathing and stress relief

Breathing is often considered to be the body's built-in stress reliever. Deep breathing affects not only the heart and lungs, but many of the body's other systems, including digestion, the immune system, and the brain. A few minutes of deep breathing can help you slow your heart rate down, relieve your stress response, and even minimize the damaging effects of the stress response.

Mindfulness

We've talked about the power of awe in other blog posts, and this can also be related to the positive effects of mindfulness.

When you practice mindfulness, or focusing on what you think and feel at that very moment without judgment, it can help to relax your body and mind. When you're focused on the present moment, it can also allow you to experience the power of awe as you take in your surroundings.

The power of scent

Aromatherapy is a powerful player in your stress and anxiety relief toolbox. There are many scents that have been shown to reduce stress by invoking a sense of calm.

Whether you use essential oils, a body lotion, or light a scented candle, try them in these scents to experience their benefits, including stress reduction and improved sleep:

  • Lavender
  • Sandalwood
  • Neroli
  • Vetiver
  • Rose
  • Bergamot
  • Rosemary
  • Lemon

Chewing gum

We've all got time to chew a piece of gum, right? A study done by Cardiff University found that chewing gum for just a few minutes "reduced stress (both at work and outside work), reduced fatigue, reduced anxiety and depression, and led to a more positive mood. Chewing gum was also associated with perceptions of better performance (both at work and outside)."

So, next time you're looking for a quick stress reliever, try popping a piece of gum in your mouth and see what happens!

Listening to music

Music and sound is a powerful way to reduce stress and anxiety. Different people prefer different sounds for this, but classical music or nature sounds are popular choices.

This leads us to our favorite and final hack for reducing stress and anxiety: Vagus nerve stimulation.

Vagus nerve stimulation for stress relief

The vagus nerve is the longest nerve of the autonomic nervous system (the system that regulates a variety of body processes that take place without conscious effort). Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) has been scientifically researched for decades for its power to improve wellness. Electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve sends messages to the brain to generate calming sensations to the body.

But how can you stimulate the vagus nerve and experience its many benefits, including anxiety and stress relief?

Anxiety and stress relief with Xen by Neuvana

You can experience the benefits of vagus nerve stimulation while listening to your music!

Xen was invented by a top surgeon and accomplished inventor passionate about enhancing people's lives through wellness technology, including stress relief and improved sleep. Xen syncs to your music library, Spotify®, Pandora®, and most other streaming apps. When you use the Xen headphones with the Neuvana app, you can easily customize your sessions to choose different waveforms and sensations, all while you listen to your music or go about your day.

Interested in learning more about Xen headphones? Be sure to have a look at our FAQ page where we cover what it feels like to use Xen headphones, when to use Xen by Neuvana, and much more.

Interested in seeing what vagus nerve stimulation can do for you? Shop the Xen by Neuvana collection here.

If you enjoyed this post, you won't want to miss these either:

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Stress Relieving Benefits of Xen

Importance of Balance in The Nervous System