Monday morning as I drive to work, I can see people rushing with tense faces. Threatening deadlines, pending workload and missed work can increase stress and have a negative impact on health. Whenever I come across a colleague who is stressed I just tell him to relax. Firstly, everyone deserves to relax, and it takes very less time. When you relax, it gives you great benefits. Yes, to chill out, you need not resort to any long drawn out methods or spend a week in a tropical island. Trust me it takes only a few minutes to make yourselves relax, and be your true self. Here are some ways by which you can do this.
You can practice mediation for a few minutes daily. It reduces anxiety largely. Studies on the effect of meditation on human brain reveal that it can alter the neural pathways of brain making you resilient to stressful situations. What you need to do is very simple.
Sit straight and keep both feet touching the ground. With eyes closed, focus your mind on positive thoughts. It can be anything such as ‘I’m peaceful’ or ‘I’m strong and healthy’. You can do it silently or recite the words loudly. Synchronize the words with your breathing. Allow distracting thoughts to drift away like clouds.
Yes, breathing helps in keeping out stress. It is common practice to take a deep breath and count until ten, whenever you are too angry or stressed out about something. It helps you to calm down and take the right perspective of a situation. Similarly, a five-minute breathing session can get you to relax effectively. Sit straight and with eyes closed keep a hand on your stomach. Inhale slowly through the nose. Feel the breath travel from your abdomen and move to your head. Now reverse the technique and exhale through mouth.
Deep breathing lowers heart rate and the blood pressure. So it keeps you from being affected by stress.
Enjoy every moment
As you wake up to a new day, take some time to focus on just being aware of you and your surroundings. Focus on how your senses respond to the things that you see, feel, hear and taste. When you eat your breakfast, enjoy the texture and flavour of each morsel of food you eat. When you put your senses to work, you will feel that stress does not near you.
One of the best ways to handle stress is socializing as much as you can. Build an extensive social network. Talk personally to others, as much as you can, if not, at least on phone. This helps to diffuse stress. Share the events of the day. When you talk with others, you will get a new perspective and maintain the connection.
Listen to your body
Feel how your body reacts to stress every day. Lie down or sit straight with feet on the ground. Start from your toes to your scalp and notice the things you feel. You can feel tensed up muscles in some places and loose in others. Now for one or two minutes take deep breaths allowing the tensed part to feel the deep breath of air. Repeat it to other parts of your body and pay close attention to the sensations you feel.
It is not necessary to run to get the high feeling of a runner. You can do other exercises such as walking and yoga to drive away the anxiety and depression. The exercises help in release of relaxing chemicals from the brain. This helps your body to deal with stress effectively. Take the stairs instead of the lift, walk down to the nearby grocery store or shopping mall instead of driving. Do stretching exercises such as shoulder shrugs or head rolls. Traveling to new places also keeps your mind fresh and vibrant.
Massage helps to ease away tension. Place a heat wrap, sufficiently warm on the shoulder and neck region for about 10 minutes. Relax the muscles of your back, upper chest, neck and face with eyes closed. Now remove the warm wrap and use foam roller or tennis ball to ease the tension.
With your back to the wall, keep the ball in between you and the wall and hold for 15 seconds with gentle pressure. Move the ball to other spots where you feel tension most and apply similar pressure.
Laughter is the best medicine
Laughing is considered highly beneficial to the extent that there are laughter clubs that focus on laughing alone. A good and hearty laugh instantly reduces your stress. It lowers the cortisol or stress hormone and boosts endorphins or mood elevating hormones. You can watch a funny video, sitcom, read comics or just talk with someone who makes you laugh and feel happy.
Music for busting stress
Several studies on stress show that soothing music bestows various benefits on our body. You can find lowered heart rate, anxiety and blood pressure, when you listen to relaxing music. Compile a playlist of nature sounds such as sounds of birds chirping, waves or a bubbly brook. Add songs that make you feel relaxed to the play list. Let your mind focus on the voice, sound, instruments and melodies. Sometimes upbeat and lively music too helps to cheer you up, and get rid of the stress. Singing along loudly also helps to blow off some of the pent up stress.
Gratitude for health
Keep a journal of gratitude. Write down the things you are grateful for in your life. Gratitude for the good things in your life helps to cancel the negative worries and thoughts. Writing down helps to relish the good experiences you have just as the smile of a child, a bright and sunny day or good health.
Accomplishing any task however small or irrelevant it may be helps you to feel happy and less stressful. Whenever you are stressed out reading the journal helps you to know what matters most in your life and will keep you grounded, sane and looking forward to your day happily.