What to Do When You Feel Yourself Getting Super Stressed Out

Stress is bad. So bad, in fact, that we find ourselves getting stressed out about getting stressed out. A hard monster to tame, stress is usually part of a viscous cycle that can wreak havoc on our overall happiness, precious shut-eye, hair and skin health—the list is practically endless. And while not stressing is much easier said than done, recognizing and addressing anxiety as soon as it begins is one of the best ways to keep stress levels in check—and maintain the healthiest and happiest you.

Keep scrolling for an easy strategy to give you an instant dose of calm!


12-Count Breathing Exercise

There’s a reason you feel that ultra-calm state of being following a quality yoga or meditation sesh. Simply breathing supplies your body with the oxygen it so desperately needs, eases tension, and helps tame rising stress levels. Stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system (the one responsible for calming your body’s stress responses), deep breathing has been scientifically proven to affect the heart, brain, digestion, immune system, and maybe even gene expression. When anxiety sets in, we tend to subconsciously hold our breath and/or take extremely shallow breaths, sending the body’s stress levels into overdrive and (as one very blunt yoga instructor once put it) basically suffocating ourselves—not good.

However, if you’re not a yogi, or taking a class just isn’t in the cards during an especially stressful day, follow Dr. Lipman’s advice and simply focus on deepening your breath. For best results, Lipman recommends “inhaling to the count of four, holding the breath in for another count of four, and then exhaling to the same count of four,” repeating as necessary. Our favorite part of this expert tip? You can do it anywhere—at the office, on a plane, before a date—no one will know, and you will instantly feel more relaxed.

woman taking a bubble bath with feet against faucet
 Aliaksandra Ivanova / EyeEm/Getty

On days that aren’t as busy or if you happen to have an extra 30 minutes, Dr. Lipman also recommends getting outside for a walk or taking a hot bath. Walks are great because you are literally removing yourself from a stressful space or environment, breathing fresh air, and getting into nature, which Lipman cites as instantly calming.

A hot bath with the addition of calming essential oils, like Young Living's Lavender Essential Oil ($31), is also a great option for settling nerves. Mineral magnesium (which can be found in Epsom salts) is an awesome tension tamer, while the water’s warmth will naturally relax muscles and calm a tense body.

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