These Stress-Relief Activities Actually Work, According to Therapists

What is stress, exactly? 

Stress and anxiety are two different psychological states that can have similar physical symptoms. Stress is a response to external events or situations, and it is typically resolved once the stressor is removed or the situation is resolved. Anxiety, on the other hand, is a response to internal stressors, and it may persist even when there is no immediate threat or stressor present. Stress is often characterized by physical symptoms, such as increased heart rate and muscle tension, while anxiety is more psychological in nature and may involve feelings of worry, nervousness, or fear. Both stress and anxiety can have negative impacts on physical and mental health, and it is important to find healthy ways to manage these emotions.

Stress-relief activities that actually work

One technique that is often depicted in movies is when a character runs away from a stressful situation and into a public bathroom, splashing cold water on their face in order to calm down. While this may seem melodramatic, there is some scientific basis to this method. When you splash cold water on your face, it activates the “dive reflex,” which is the body’s natural response to being submerged in water. This reflex causes the body to redirect blood and oxygen to the vital organs. So, while it may not be a cure-all for stress, splashing cold water on your face can be a simple and effective way to bring some calming focus to a stressful situation.

When to see a professional for help managing stress and anxiety

If you have tried using basic stress management techniques and relaxation methods, but they are not effective or do not provide enough relief, it may be time to seek help from a healthcare professional. A primary care provider can evaluate you for conditions such as anxiety and depression, which are often related to stress. Alternatively, you can also consider seeing a therapist. It is important to note that it is not recommended to self-diagnose, as a medical or mental health professional can help you determine the root cause of your stress and provide the appropriate treatment. Remember that it is normal to feel stressed at times, but if it becomes overwhelming, seeking professional help can improve your well-being and help you feel more like yourself again.