3 Ways to Instantly Relax and Decrease StressThere’s no question that stress causes disease. It’s been directly linked to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease just to name a few. It also negatively affects your immune system and can make you feel grumpy, tired, and unhappy.

Stress is a part of life. There are bills to pay, friends and family to get along with, and challenges to overcome. However, how you handle stress is completely within your control. When you’re feeling stressed you can let your emotions take over, or you can take steps to instantly relax and decrease stress.

1 – Take Deep Cleansing Breaths

The first step to any relaxation exercise is to realize that you’re stressed. Begin to learn the signals your body sends when it experiences stress. Does your heart rate increase? Do you feel your fists clench or your brow furrow? Do you grumble to yourself or begin pacing? Does your mind race with negative thoughts, worries, or doubts?

When you begin to experience signs of stress, one of the easiest steps to take is to stop everything and take four to ten deep cleansing breaths. Each breath lasts for a 12 count. Count to four in the inhalation and try to breathe in through your nose. Hold your breath for four counts and then exhale through your mouth for four counts. Repeat until you feel the stress signs disappear and you feel more calm and in control of your emotions.

2 – Express Gratitude

During difficult times it helps to count your blessings. Many significant studies have shown that gratitude helps a person feel more joyful and happy. It puts things into perspective and helps you feel more optimistic and resilient. When you’re grateful for what you have, the challenges of life don’t feel quite so powerful or overwhelming. If you’re having a bad moment, or dealing with something that’s stressing you out, try counting your blessings.

3 – Self-Massage

Massage and the power of touch have been shown to release anti-stress hormones. These hormones actually create a feeling of calmness throughout your body and help you manage stress. Of course a professional massage isn’t an option for everyone. It’s not always convenient. You can receive much of the same benefit by learning a few self-massage techniques. By massaging your hands, neck, temples, head, and even your feet can experience instant relaxation. Acupressure and reflexology are other means of using self-touch to help reduce stress and improve wellness

Learning to identify signs of stress and to immediately self-treat can help you reduce your reaction to the stress. You’ll feel an immediate benefit and a better sense of wellbeing. You’ll also improve your long term health and reduce your risk of stress related conditions.