Stress can become a constant companion. And, for many of us, with many years of of practice, we have become experts at elevating our own stress levels. Just as it has taken us time to learn how to stay keyed up all the time, the ability to relax is an acquired skill that will take time as well. Fortunately, we can teach ourselves how to handle many of our stressors in a manner that minimizes the damage and danger. However, the more stressed we feel about things, the more challenging it can be to relax.
Tips for relaxing your body and mind when your stress levels are out of control:
- Stand up for a few minutes and stretch your body.
- Release the tension and stress in your muscles. For me, I notice in my shoulders. While I am concentrating, my shoulders start to creep up to my ears, and I have to intentionally stop and release them to normal height.
- Try standing and shaking your arms and legs individually and then get back to work.
- If you have more time available to you, 30 minutes of exercise can work wonders.
- Avoid limiting yourself to the standard walk around the office or jog. When the weather permits, I walk several blocks around the neighborhood of our clinic.
- Play a match of tennis or attempt to break your personal bench press record.
- Consider whether you would prefer to exercise alone or with others and make that happen. Having an accountability partner helps keep you both on track!
3. Play some tunes.
- Music can be very soothing at times.
- A little Creedence Clearwater Revival might make give you a boost, but may not be the best optimal choice if you are already feeling agitated.
- Choose music that you find relaxing and that fits the mood you are trying to achieve.
- Meditation is simple, but can be challenging.
- You can, through practice, learn to focus your thoughts and relieve your tension.
- Focus on your breath and return to calmer thoughts whenever find yourself getting distracted.
5. Lean into your support.
- Some people find relaxation in being alone, while others feel better with others.
- Reach out to your friends and family.
- You will be able to discuss your feelings and the challenges you are facing.
- Other people can also share your distractions with you. Go out to dinner or watch a movie. Have a little fun.
- Pull out your favorite YouTube video or spend the evening with friends at at a comedy club.
- Call your funniest friend for a chat.
- Find something or someone that will make you laugh.
7. Feel the joy of gratitude.
- It is very easy to forget about all the wonderful things in our lives when faced with challenging times or events.
- Make a list of all the marvelous blessings in your life.
- Focus on feeling gratitude. This will not remove the bad things, but the scales of life will seem a little more balanced.
8. Sleep on it.
- One of the best ways to reset your nervous system is napping.
- Find a quiet place and lie down for an hour or less.
9. Remind yourself of happy thoughts.
- Remember a happy event from your past.
- Relive it in your mind.
- Creative visualization can be an excellent way to take a break from your stress.
10. Cut your caffeine intake.
- Caffeine and stress do not make a great combination.
- Give your nervous system a break and cut down on caffeinated beverages.
11. Close your eyes and just listen.
- You may want to do the opposite and cover your ears and focus on what you see instead.
- You may feel a little silly in the beginning, but blocking off one of your senses and focusing on your environment is an excellent way to be more present.
- Giving your attention to your surroundings will stop your mind from cranking up and creating even more stress.
The best time to address stress is the moment it begins, the moment you notice it creeping in. There is momentum to stress. Once your stress reaches a high enough level, it becomes far more challenging to reduce.
Most stress-reduction techniques provide a small to moderate amount of relief.
Tap into these techniques sooner, rather than later, and prevent a meltdown before it happens.
Stress is a part of our daily lives.
Learning to manage ourselves and our stress are ways in which we can make life much more enjoyable.