It’s only mid-January, and already things are starting off a little wackier than we’d like. Stress is a constant companion, and most of us have mastered elevating our stress levels. Learning to relax is an acquired skill too. Fortunately, you can learn to handle stress in a manner that minimizes it, but the more stressed you are, the more difficult it is to relax.
Learn how to relax your body and mind when you’re stressed out:
- Stretch it out. Try doing a few stretches throughout the day by standing up and stretching for a few minutes. Let the tension and stress out of your muscles. Shake your arms and legs and get back to work.
- Exercise. If you have more time, 30 minutes of exercise can work wonders. Try something different like hiking stairs, follow along with Yoga class on YouTube, or set a PR on the bench press. Whether alone or with a group, make it happen. If you don’t have 30 minutes – start at 10.
- Listen to music. One of my personal favorites for de-stressing. You can create a relaxing mood with music. While the theme from Rocky might make you feel great during a workout, it’s not the best choice when you’re feeling agitated or overwhelmed. Choose music that you’ll enjoy and press play.
- Meditate. Meditation is simple but challenging. You can learn to focus your thoughts and get rid of tension. Keep your thoughts on your breath and come back to them whenever you get distracted. How easy is that? Here’s a great video by Russell Brand on How to Meditate.
- Reach out to others. Some people relax better alone, while others feel happier with others. Talk to your friends and family. You can talk about how you feel and how you’re doing. You can also use the people in your life as an escape. Go out to dinner, take a walk together, or just watch a movie.
- Laugh. It just may be that laughter is the best medicine. Watch your favorite movie or take a chance on the standup comedy shows on Netflix. Talk to your funniest friend. Read a joke book or search for them online. Find something or someone that will make you laugh.
- Feel gratitude. It’s easy to forget all the good things in your life during difficult times – and this has been an especially difficult time. Write down all the blessings in your life. Feel gratitude. By remembering all the good things, the bad won’t seem as bad.
- Take a nap. There are so many health benefits to good sleep, yet 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough of it. A nap is one of the best ways to reset your system. Find a quiet place and lay down for an hour. If you don’t have an hour, a 20-minute power nap will do.
- Think happy thoughts. Relive a happy past event in your mind. Creative visualization can be an excellent way to relax. Have fun and be yourself.
- Take a break from caffeine. Caffeine and stress don’t mix well. Give your nervous system a break and avoid caffeinated drinks. Do you really need to be any more stimulated? If you can’t imagine starting your morning without that cup of coffee, try switching to decaf or drink less over the next day or two and see how you feel.
- Simply close your eyes and listen to the sounds around you. You could also cover your ears and focus on what you see. Turn off one sense and focus on the environment. This is an excellent way to be more present. Staying aware of what’s going on around you keeps your mind from creating more stress.
Stress is a part of daily life. Learning to manage it makes life more enjoyable.
Stress gains momentum when it starts. Once it reaches a high level, it’s more difficult to reduce. Most stress-reduction techniques provide only minor relief. Use them earlier, rather than later, and prevent a meltdown before it occurs.