Life can be busy and stressful, especially with the Holidays right around the corner and so much to get done in a short time. Stress can affect the body in many ways such as suppressing the immune system, causing digestive and reproductive system issues, speeding up the aging process, and even increasing the risk of heart attack or stroke. Stress causes blood vessels to constrict which leads to less oxygen getting to the muscles, causing the heart to pound faster. The result of this can lead to high blood pressure. There are several ways to help reduce stress. The top five stress relievers include exercising, meditation/breathing, eating healthy, getting enough sleep, laughing more, and connecting with others. Learn the best ways to reduce stress and feel better this season.


Exercise is one of the most important ways to reduce stress. Getting moving helps to release endorphins and other chemicals from the brain that improve your overall well-being. Aerobic activities such as running, playing tennis, and soccer are all great ways to release endorphins. Many people hold tension in their muscles. Yoga is an activity that helps to release tension by stretching and strengthening muscles while working on breathing. Breathe work is very important to help relax the body. In general, exercise improves your mood and decreases stress by helping you relax and lowering anxiety and depression.

Breathing and Meditation

Breathing and meditation can also help decrease stress. Meditation is a deep mind-body connection. Meditation helps improve your focus and decrease the many thoughts racing through your mind which may be causing stress. When stressed, many people compensate by holding their muscles tight as well as their breath. There are several apps that people can download to use for guidance with breathing/meditation that have calming music. Adding a scented candle such as lavender can also help with relaxation while doing breathwork. Doing mediation for just a few minutes per day can restore people’s inner peace.

Healthy Eating

Healthy eating can be beneficial to your body in several ways. Some foods like oatmeal boost serotonin levels which help calm a person. Other foods, such as avocados, flax seeds, and olive oil, decrease levels of cortisol and adrenaline which are stress hormones. Vitamin C also helps decrease cortisol levels. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon and tuna, as well as drinking black tea can help with surges in stress hormones. Herbal tea helps because of the warmth and the herbs help calm a person’s system. Limiting or avoiding eating and drinking caffeinated beverages such as coffee, soda, tea, or chocolate can help decrease the intensity of stress.


Sleep is a stress reducer. This is the time when the body recharges and restores itself. Getting enough rest helps improve your judgment, ability to problem solve and cope with stress. Sleep decreases cortisol levels (stress hormone), improves your immune system, and decreases anxiety. Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Setting up an environment that allows for a successful night’s sleep such as room darkening shades, proper pillow/mattress support, going to bed around the same time, avoiding using electronics 30 minutes before bed, and exercising in the morning or early evening can assist with this. Sleep and stress impact and play off of one another. If you are stressed you can’t sleep and if you can’t sleep it affects your health.


Connect With Others

Connecting with others and not feeling isolated is also an important component to reducing stress. When socializing and getting together with others, be sure to laugh. Laughter helps decrease stress hormones and decreases tension in your body for up to 45 minutes. Keeping a positive attitude helps keep an optimistic outlook resulting in decreased stress. Whether you get together in person, over the phone, or even zoom, be sure to get a laugh in!

Freedom PT can help you reduce stress and feel better today. Schedule your appointment today.

Heather Barry is a well-rounded therapist specializing in general orthopedics, TMJ treatment, pelvic physical therapy, and dry needling.