How to relieve stress fast – 6 advanced techniques

Why would you want to learn how to relieve stress fast?

Ever heard of HALT? (Hunger, angry, lonely, tired.)

Anyone whose been to a 12 step program knows this acronym – they’re the emotional states that weaken willpower.

Well we think this list should include stress.

Stress demands relief. For most people, it manifests itself in tight muscles, shortened patience, a quick temper and more.

But for addicts, stress is especially dangerous as studies are starting to show that stress reduces willpower, making it that much easier to take that first drink, open that private web browser, or binge-eat.

So we put found 6 advanced techniques for relieving stress quickly.

1Neurally patterned sound therapy to relieve stress fast

Neuro what?

Ok, we’re a little biased here, but this is our favorite technique, but probably because our resident neuro-musician created them.

To drastically reduce stress levels in about 5 minutes, the Pillrs app includes “de-stress” as emotional first-aid.

The song itself is quite calming, but it’s the hidden patterning that makes the difference as it helps slow breathing, reduce heart rate, and generating a sense of overall calm and wellbeing.

Also, besides “Box Breathing”, #5 on this list, it’s the fastest technique we know of.

You can get Pillrs on the iOS app store by clicking the link below. Then navigate to First Aid, grab headphones, and give it a try.

Download Pillrs on the app store

Pillrs app download

 

 

2Guided imagery

When you’re looking for a way to relieve stress quickly, there’s few things faster (or more available) than looking inside.

The good folks over at Mind Tools put together a great article about using Guided Imagery to quickly reduce stress. It’s a three-step process where basically you:

  1. Find a quiet place
  2. Choose your setting – this is the crux of their technique. A quick overview says to “Imagine yourself there, use all of your senses to immerse yourself in the experience, and include as many details as possible.” One example they give is to imagine yourself “Sitting by a waterfall deep in the forest, feeling the gentle moisture against your face, and listening to the birds.”
  3. Relax

Of course, like all things, it’s the nuance that counts, so be sure to read the whole article here.

Our take: There’s plenty of studies that show our brains don’t really know if we’re doing something or visualizing it. I’ve also personally used this technique for relaxing in a variety of different scenarios (it was a Godsend as a teenage boy…) and can attest to it’s power.

 

3Autogenic relaxation

Autogenic relaxation is as complex sounding as it is powerful. It’s considered a form of self-hypnosis but can give you control over things like heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and body temperature. From Be Brain Fit:

During AT, brain waves drop to the lower-frequency theta state — the same state experienced just as you fall asleep or during deep meditation.

One thing that makes autogenics unique is that, unlike many other relaxation techniques, it works on your parasympathetic nervous system.

Our take: This is a form of autosuggestion that we both had never heard of and are excited to try. It’s definitely not for the feint of heart and requires some training before there’s any effectiveness.

With that said, anything that gives us conscious control over heart rate, blood pressure, etc. is something worth looking into.

Learn how to use autogenic training here.

 

4Progressive muscle relaxation

I carry most of my stress in my shoulders (maybe that’s why I’m writing about stress relief).

A number of years ago I went to the hospital for an unrelated incident, where they pumped me full of morphine. Nearly immediately my other debilitating pains were gone.

Everything except the paid generated by my stiff shoulders.

How I wish I knew this technique earlier to relieve stress fast.

I’ll let the folks at Mental Help explain:

Progressive muscle relaxation is based on the observation that it is easier for muscles to relax from a position of high tension than it is from a position of lower tension. The kind of muscular tension that causes headaches and bodily pains tends to be a sort of moderate residual tension that people walk around with (and may not notice) for days…

The premise of PMR is that by tightening and releasing all the major muscle groups of the body in an exaggerated fashion, you will end up feeling more relaxed and at peace with yourself, and much less stressed then you otherwise would. Consciously exaggerating and releasing muscle tension also helps you learn to recognize when you are holding onto unnecessary muscular tension so that you can use relaxation techniques to relieve this stress before it gets out of hand.

Our take: This technique seems easy to learn and can be completed in just about any quiet place. It’s ideal for taking care of tightened muscles caused by either chronic or acute stress and the result is a full-body relaxation.

I just tried it and will be adding it to my rapid stress relief repertoire.

Learn how to use progressive muscle relaxation to reduce stress.

 

5Breathe like a Navy SEAL with Box Breathing

Navy SEALs learning how to relieving stress fast with Box Breathing Source: https://gearpatrol.com/2017/02/02/box-breathing-navy-seals/; Image Source: US NAVY

Think you’re stressed? I’ve got to imagine being a Navy Seal ranks among the top of the stressful jobs list.

Enter Box Breathing, also known as Tactical Breathing. It’s a very, very simple technique that is both fast and very effective. From Quietkit.com, who make a great simple guided meditation kit (free):

Here are the directions:

  1. Inhale for 4 seconds
  2. Hold your lungs full for 4 seconds
  3. Exhale for 4 seconds
  4. Hold your lungs empty for 4 seconds

And if you go to their site, they made a nice visualization that is easy to follow.

 

6Give yourself a hand-massage

Reflexology, a massage system that claims there are certain reflex spots used to relieve tension, pain, etc. is something that always tripped my BS alarm.

That said, it’s hard to argue with the relaxing potential of massage, regardless of the rest of your beliefs.
Here’s what Mental Health Daily has to say about using reflexology on the hand:

In the hand region there are various points that can be touched and massaged to help the entire body relax. If your hands are tense, it is a sign that you are physically stressed. The idea here is to free the trapped tension and let your entire body calm down. A clenched hand with tense fingers is a sign of stress. An open palm with loose, dangling fingers is a sign you are becoming more relaxed. A reflexologist may even show you a chart that depicts various regions he or she is trying to stimulate on your hand.

If you’d like to learn more, here’s a video from Thomas Wolford of the Wolford Clinic:

Our take: I’ll be honest, my mother was a large proponent of reflexology when I was young. All I remember was that it hurt like heck, and then felt great when she stopped.

I always thought it was because she stopped that it felt better by contrast.

Either way, there’s a few studies and a bit of anecdotal evidence when it comes to reflexology’s usefulness. More importantly, massages do relieve stress. So… you can take that away at least.

 

What are your favorite techniques to relieve stress fast? Feel free to leave it in the comments box.

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