Stress relievers: Tips to tame stress
Stress getting to you? Try some of these tips for stress relief.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Is stress making you frustrated and irritable? Stress relievers can help restore calm and serenity to your chaotic life. You don’t have to invest a lot of time or thought into stress relievers. If your stress is getting out of control and you need quick relief, try one of these tips.
Virtually any form of physical activity can act as a stress reliever. Even if you’re not an athlete or you’re out of shape, exercise can still be a good stress reliever.
Physical activity can pump up your feel-good endorphins and other natural neural chemicals that enhance your sense of well-being. Exercise can also refocus your mind on your body’s movements, which can improve your mood and help the day’s irritations fade away. Consider walking, jogging, gardening, housecleaning, biking, swimming, weightlifting or anything else that gets you active.
Eat a healthy diet
Eating a healthy diet is an important part of taking care of yourself. Aim to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, and whole grains.
Avoid unhealthy habits
Some people may deal with stress by drinking too much caffeine or alcohol, smoking, eating too much, or using illegal substances. These habits can harm your health.
During meditation, you focus your attention and quiet the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. Meditation can instill a sense of calm, peace and balance that can benefit both your emotional well-being and your overall health.
Guided meditation, guided imagery, visualization and other forms of meditation can be practiced anywhere at any time, whether you’re out for a walk, riding the bus to work or waiting at the doctor’s office. You can also try deep breathing anywhere.
A good sense of humor can’t cure all ailments, but it can help you feel better, even if you have to force a fake laugh through your grumpiness. When you laugh, it not only lightens your mental load but also causes positive physical changes in your body. Laughter fires up and then cools down your stress response. So read some jokes, tell some jokes, watch a comedy or hang out with your funny friends. Or give laughter yoga a try.
Connect with others
When you’re stressed and irritable, your instinct may be to isolate yourself. Instead, reach out to family and friends and make social connections.
Social contact is a good stress reliever because it can offer distraction, provide support and help you tolerate life’s up and downs. So take a coffee break with a friend, email a relative or visit your place of worship.
Got more time? Consider volunteering for a charitable group and help yourself while helping others.
You might want to do it all, but you can’t, at least not without paying a price. Learning to say no or being willing to delegate can help you manage your to-do list and your stress.
Saying yes may seem like an easy way to keep the peace, prevent conflicts and get the job done right. But it may actually cause you internal conflict because your needs and those of your family come second, which can lead to stress, anger, resentment and even the desire to exact revenge. And that’s not a very calm and peaceful reaction.
With its series of postures and controlled-breathing exercises, yoga is a popular stress reliever. Yoga brings together physical and mental disciplines which may help you achieve peacefulness of body and mind. Yoga can help you relax and manage stress and anxiety.
Try yoga on your own or find a class — you can find classes in most communities. Hatha yoga, in particular, is a good stress reliever because of its slower pace and easier movements.
Get enough sleep
Stress can cause you to have trouble falling asleep. When you have too much to do — and too much to think about — your sleep can suffer. But sleep is the time when your brain and body recharge.
And the quality and amount of sleep you get can affect your mood, energy level, concentration and overall functioning. If you have sleep troubles, make sure that you have a quiet, relaxing bedtime routine, listen to soothing music, put clocks away, and stick to a consistent schedule.
Keep a journal
Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be a good release for otherwise pent-up emotions. Don’t think about what to write — just let it happen. Write whatever comes to mind. No one else needs to read it, so don’t strive for perfection in grammar or spelling.
Just let your thoughts flow on paper — or computer screen. Once you’re done, you can toss out what you wrote or save it to reflect on later.
Get musical and be creative
Listening to or playing music is a good stress reliever because it can provide a mental distraction, reduce muscle tension and decrease stress hormones. Crank up the volume and let your mind be absorbed by the music.
If music isn’t one of your interests, turn your attention to another hobby you enjoy, such as gardening, sewing, sketching — anything that requires you to focus on what you’re doing rather than what you think you should be doing.
If new stressors are challenging your ability to cope or if self-care measures just aren’t relieving your stress, you may need to look for reinforcements in the form of therapy or counseling. Therapy also may be a good idea if you feel overwhelmed or trapped, if you worry excessively, or if you have trouble carrying out daily routines or meeting responsibilities at work, home or school.
Professional counselors or therapists can help you identify sources of your stress and learn new coping tools.
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- How stress affects your health. American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress.aspx. Accessed Feb. 28, 2019.
- Relaxation techniques for health. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/stress/relaxation.htm. Accessed Feb. 28, 2019.
- Stress and your health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/good-mental-health/stress-and-your-health. Accessed Feb. 27, 2019.
- 5 things you should know about stress. National Institute of Mental Health. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml. Accessed Feb. 28, 2019.
- Meditation: In depth. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm. Accessed Feb. 28, 2019.
- Yoga: In depth. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/yoga/introduction.htm. Accessed Feb. 28, 2019.
- Seaward BL. Essentials of Managing Stress. 4th ed. Burlington, Mass.: Jones & Bartlett Publishers; 2017.
See more In-depth
Annealing and stress relieving are heat treatment processes that are both used as an intermediate step in the manufacturing process to enhance the dimensional stability and machinability of steel. While both processes reduce residual stresses inside metal parts, they have differing objectives. In this article, we’ll cover the basics of (and differences between) annealing and stress relief and share a few examples of how they are applied to some common materials.
What Is Annealing?
Annealing is three-step heat treating process that softens metal, relieves stress, and increases ductility. The process alters the physical properties of the part and is often used to return the material to its original state, removing hardness that is created as a result of working processes such as stamping, drawing, or other cold forming methods.
Annealing Process Steps
- Recovery. The first step in the annealing process, recovery restores the physical properties of the metal. Heating the material in a furnace reduces dislocations in the part structure, which is what relieves residual stress and enhances ductility.
- Recrystallization. This step corrects the plastic deformation that occurs as a result of cold working manufacturing processes. By heating the material above its recrystallization temperature, new grains are formed which take the place of deformed or elongated grains. This decreases the hardness of the material and further increases its ductility.
- Grain Growth. During this phase, the new grains that begin to form during the recrystallization stage become fully formed. The rate at which this takes place is determined by the temperature of the process.
How Is Stress Relief Different from Annealing?
Unlike annealing, stress relief does not change the chemical or mechanical properties of the material, its objective is to reduce the stress.
Depending on the desired outcome and the material, annealed parts will be heated to temperatures ranging from just below or well above the critical austenitic temperature. Annealing is also not typically performed on parts that have been hardened through heat treating, as it is used to mitigate hardness that remains in parts as a result of the manufacturing process. There are three types of annealing processes:
- Full annealing means heating the metal to a temperature where it becomes fully austenitized. It is typically conducted on some stainless steels and superalloys, in addition to other materials.
- Inter-critical annealing is carried out in within a temperature range: above the material’s lower critical temperature (where austenite starts to form) and below the upper critical temperature (where austenite is fully formed). Inter-critical annealing is performed on carbon steels, alloy steels and engineering alloys.
- Sub-crticial annealing fully remains below the critical temperature where a material begins to form austenite. It can also be conducted on carbon steels, alloy steel and engineering alloys, and is usually conducted as an intermediate step between fabrication steps.
Stress relief, however, is performed on both through-hardened and non-heat-treated steel parts. The temperature of the process depends on whether the part has been through hardened, the desired final characteristics of the part, and the specific material. For parts that have not been previously heat treated, it is best to use as high of a temperature as possible without affecting the final properties of the part. For through hardened parts, stress relief is typically done at 50°F below the tempering temperature. Here are some examples:
- For heat treated H13 steel that was tempered at 1,100°F, air stress relief can be performed at a temperature up to 1,050°F to relieve the residual stress formed as a result of heat treatment. Another common stress relieving application for this material is performed on high-pressure die casting dies as a maintenance process to relieve the stresses that form during the die’s use.
- A 4140 steel part tempered at 700°F can only stress relieve up to 650°F, otherwise you risk losing the properties imparted by the heat treatment.
- As a general rule for non-heat-treated steel, 1,250°F is a good temperature for stress relieving.
- For nonferrous materials such as aluminum, deep cryogenics are often used for stress relief instead of heat treatment.
Which Process is Right for Your Application?
Our metallurgy experts can help you evaluate the effectiveness of your heat treatment specifications if you’re unsure whether annealing or stress relieving is the right process for your parts.
Why Anneal or Stress Relieve with Paulo?
You rely on your heat treater to produce consistent results, job after job. We deliver greater consistency than other commercial heat treaters due to our precision process controls and PICS system, and we demonstrate the accuracy of your process with data and testing. If you’re looking for a partner who can improve your heat treatment results, then let’s start a conversation.