7 Ways to Decrease Stress and Increase Productivity

Between juggling jobs, relationships and other day-to-day obligations, the modern struggle is sometimes too much to handle. This is why it is crucial to cultivate a rock solid self-care routine. Think of approaching stress relief as a tool box — The more tools you have in your arsenal, the easier it gets. You can’t always control what happens, but you can control your response to each and every situation. Here are 7 ways you can press pause, take a deep breath, and relieve tension in the next 15 minutes:


Try Yoga Heart Openers

Take a couple deep belly breaths (stomach goes out, shoulders stay put) in a standing position, and place your palms on your lower back with thumbs pointed out to support yourself. Slowly arch your head back so it is cradled between your shoulder blades and let your chest open up wide. Stand like this for 5 deep inhales and exhales. Heart openers increase the breathing capacity of your lungs and can help counteract the hunch-like position we acquire by sitting at a desk all day. It takes all of 30 seconds and works wonders for calming the body during stressful moments.


Engage Reiki Pressure Points

Traditional Chinese medicine engages acupressure techniques, some of which can be self-administered for quick tension relief. By applying a firm pressure in certain areas of the body, the built up strain can promptly be alleviated. Before trying any of these mechanisms, sit still and take a few deep breaths, from the belly.


  • Measure three fingers from your wrist and apply a firm pressure with your thumb below where the third finger is placed. Do this for 5 breaths and switch to the other wrist.
  • Take your index finger and your thumb from your right hand and squeeze the webbing between index and thumb on the opposite hand. Do this for 5 deep breaths and then switch.


  • Find the meaty, middle spot on your shoulder between the base of your neck and the edge of your shoulder. Apply pressure with your index or middle finger to this spot, inhale deeply and exhale fully, then repeat 5 times.



  • On the back of your head, locate where your skull ends and measure one finger below that point. Feel out the tendons that run along your spine and pinpoint this area, using your thumbs pointed down with your hands clasped behind your neck.



Go for a Barefoot Walk in the Park

There is a growing body of scientific evidence to suggest that direct bodily contact with organic soil promotes positive psychological changes. One study titled “Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth’s Surface Electronspublished by the US National Library of Medicine states that “Earthing (or grounding) refers to the discovery of benefits—including better sleep and reduced pain—from walking barefoot outside or sitting, working, or sleeping indoors connected to conductive systems that transfer the Earth’s electrons from the ground into the body.” When you live in a concrete jungle, it’s easy to become disconnected from the rhythms of nature. Well, this is science officially telling you: Don’t forget to call your Mother Earth.



Keep a Gratitude Journal

Hey, it’s understandable. Bad moods happen — they’re a thing. Shifting your perspective in these moments is a rather constructive practice when it’s starting to feel like the world is out to get you. Instead of dwelling on everything that’s not going right, take a moment to reflect on everything you appreciate currently. It can be anything, big or small. I’m thankful for my partner, my kids, etc. or even Thank God internet cat videos exist. You’ll figure it out, just give yourself the chance to loosen up and try this next time you want to crawl under a rock and hibernate for 32 weeks.



It’s Tea Time

Traditions centered around setting aside time for tea can be found cross-culturally spanning over multiple generations. But instead of opting for a generic box of mass-produced tea bags, look toward the potent medicinal teas commonly used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Try steeping some loose oolong or pu’er tea leaves mid-day or as a part of an evening routine. Source high-quality leaves, and as with cannabis, educate yourself on the effects of each type. Most importantly, sip from the small cups, your un-burnt mouth will thank you. Use this time to slow down, broaden the perspective, and feel present in the moment. This is YOU time.


Create a Morning Routine

How we start our day usually affects how the rest of the day goes. Feeling rushed out the door can put you in a headspace that is on edge, which is not exactly conducive to a creative flow state. Having a morning ritual can give you something to wake up for. Starting your day off with a few simple tasks of your choosing, puts your body into a rhythm of powering through the rest of your day. Make it about you! Try a glass of warm lemon water first thing in the morning, which can help jumpstart your internal organs. Perhaps a few sun salutations or a brisk walk around the block to help get the blood flowing. Meal prepping a healthy breakfast the night before goes a long way. Whatever you choose do to, do with the intention of grounding yourself before the day gets the best of you.


Take a Mental Health Day

Most employers offer sick days, but many workers do not think to utilize this paid time off unless they are in the thick of a cold or flu. But why wait until your body is pushed to the brink of exhaustion to take advantage of the personal time you have been given? Mental health is just as important as your physical health. Don’t be shy about asserting your emotional needs and putting your mental well-being first. Chances are you will come back the next day feeling a lot more productive.


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Author: Evan Thompson

With a proclivity for risk-taking and an intimate knowledge of San Francisco’s landscape, Evan goes the extra mile, shooting images that capture the mystique and majesty of the Bay Area.

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