Stress is something we all have from time to time. Sometimes it can be good (helping you focus to meet a deadline), sometimes bad (the paralysing fear of public speaking). Scientifically speaking, stress is an evolutionary adaption to help us survive. It temporarily increases your awareness, and can improve your physical strength for short periods of time. It speeds up your heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure, which keeps you alert and tense. However, this is only supposed to be for a short period of time.

However, some of us are stressed more often, and some of us (you know who you are) stress out about everything. We can even feel stressed when there’s nothing specific we can put our finger on as the cause—we’re just tense and anxious all the time. This could be chronic stress.

Chronic stress is hard on your body as well as your mind. According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress can cause everything from muscle pain to a weakened immune system, and can contribute to the development of illnesses like heart disease and obesity.

That can be pretty tough to hear—and, ironically, probably pretty stressful.

So what can you do? Here are 3 ways to decompress from unhealthy stress:

1. Reach Out To Friends

Stress can be isolating. It’s easy to push things aside, including things that would make us feel better, in favour of things we feel like we “have to” get done. Our social support network is what makes us stronger and helps us get through the obstacles in life. Take advantage of that!

Emotional support from friends is actually a huge predictor of health—one study showed that social support was associated with lower blood pressure, better immunity, and lower risk of cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline.

Your friends are literally protecting your body! So make sure you schedule time with people who are close to you—to get your mind off of everyday stress, vent, or even ask for help if you need it.

2. Reach For Your Toes

What comes to your mind when you think of yoga? You probably know that it’s been around for thousands of years and is practised by millions of people—but if you thought that being able to touch your toes was the only thing yoga was good for, think again!

Scientists are beginning to uncover all the incredible benefits yoga can bring to your body and mind, and the best part? Yoga is for everyone.

No one knows that better than Tiffany Cruikshank of Yoga Medicine. She’s passionate about the scientific side of yoga, and utilising Eastern and Western medicine to help the whole body. Yoga Medicine was founded because she wanted to bring together doctors and yoga teachers—she knew the benefits of yoga, as do medical practitioners, but it can be difficult to find teachers who are qualified in both Western medicine and yoga.

Also, if you’re picturing back-breaking poses that look borderline impossible according to the laws of physics, fear not! While those poses look cool, they aren’t necessary, and aren’t really part of what yoga is all about.

There are some great basic poses you can try on your own, without the fear of tipping over. These are poses recommended for beginners, and basic poses that are often overlooked. The important thing is to breathe, relax, and take time to care for your body.

And, you know, touching your toes would be cool too.

3. Reach for Relaxation and Meditation

How annoying is it when you’re stressed out and someone tells you to calm down? Well, bear with us. Because it’s true, your body does need to calm down.

Stress is your body in a heightened state—it’s a physical response, where your body feels like it’s under attack. Even if it’s just an impending presentation in front of your peers, your body feels like it’s about to be eaten by a lion. Those are your caveman instincts kicking in and telling you to run. But, there’s nowhere to run. So how do you tell those instincts to knock it off?

Meditation seems to be the answer.

The adrenaline rush you get when you are in stress mode is directly counteracted by meditation, which induces the exact opposite thing in your body. It slows down your breathing, pulse, and blood pressure.

Meditation doesn’t have to be a big commitment—even a few minutes a day can make a huge difference. It’s enough just to practise and establish a habit, but not so much that you feel like it’s a burden.

Also, disregard the popular myths about “emptying your mind.” Meditation is about being present, and paying attention to your thoughts.

Then try and apply the mindfulness mindset to your life in general, not just those few minutes. Be mindful in your everyday moments, and practise calming your mind and centering yourself whenever you can.