Stress Solutions From Head to Toe

Got stress? You're certainly not alone.

Everyone experiences stress in his own way. It may manifest as knotted muscles, painful digestion, troubled sleep, breakouts, chronic illness, weight gain, headaches, and fatigue. And that's just the physical symptoms. When you're stressed, you may also be irritable, depressed, or have trouble concentrating and remembering.

Fortunately, you can do many things to reduce the effects of stress.

Head and shoulders. Massage or apply heat or ice to tight muscles. Flex your face; it helps you relax. Scrunch your facial muscles, hold, and release.

Hands. Try acupressure. Using your thumb and index finger of one hand, apply a pinching pressure to the soft, fleshy web between the thumb and forefinger on the other hand.

Abdomen. Experts at Harvard Medical School recommend psychotherapy options, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, relaxation techniques, and hypnosis when stress slows or disrupts digestion and cases pain and other gastrointestinal symptoms.

Feet. A brisk foot rub elevates your body's oxytocin, a feel good hormone.

Full Body Stress Relief

Breathing. Effective stress relief varies among individuals. However, breathing works for everyone. According to the American Institute for Stress (AIS), breathing has true head-to-toe stress relieving benefits. It increases the supply of oxygen to your brain, which stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system and promotes a state of calm. It also slows your metabolism, heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure, and increases your levels of nitric oxide, an important biological regulator. The AIS recommends focused abdominal breathing for 20 to 30 minutes daily.

Have sex. It makes you feel good by improving your body image and increasing the flow of feel good chemicals to the brain.

Exercise. It releases endorphins, lowers stress, and increases your energy.

Yoga. Yoga is an all-around good stress buster and certain poses work well to relieve stress in certain areas. For example, the triangle pose, cat/cow, and extended cat stretch help relieve back pain.

Laugh. It's true: laughter is the best medicine. Laughter produces immediate stress relief and, over time, laughing improves your immune system and reduces pain.

When you need immediate and accessible stress relief, recommends engaging one or more of your senses. Whether it's sight, sound, touch, taste, or hearing, you'll know which works best for soothing your nerves.

An Ounce of Prevention

Of course, the best way to reduce stress is to prevent it in the first place.

  • Exercise regularly
  • Sleep 7 to 8 hours daily
  • Eat properly
  • Simplify your life
  • Manage your time wisely and take breaks
  • Avoid excess caffeine and other stimulants
  • Quit smoking


American Institute of Stress. "Take a Deep Breath." Daily Life Blog. Web. 10 August 2012.

Oz, Mehmet C., MD and Roizen, Michael F., MD. "Head-to-Toe Stress Cures from Dr. Oz." Prevention. Web.

Friedman, Loretta, MD. "7 Ways to Relieve Stress." Video. Web.

Mayo Clinic. "Tension headache." Web. 24 April 2010.

Deardorff, William W., PhD, ABPP. "Stress-Related Back Pain." Web. 5 April 2001.

Segal, Jeanne, Ph.D., Smith, Melinda, M.A., and Robinson, Lawrence. "Quick Stress Relief." Web. July 2012.

Smith, Melinda, M.A., Segal, Robert, M.A., and Segal, Jeanne, Ph.D. "Understanding Stress." Web. July 2012.

Mayo Clinic. "Stress management." Web. 23 July 2010.

Harvard Mental Health Letter. "Stress and the sensitive gut." Web. August 2010.