Sometimes it is a good idea to remind ourselves of the basics.
The best ways to relieve stress are nothing new, but when life gets busy we may need reminding to make time for them.
Our body is designed to manage temporary high stress situations, not long term never-ending ones. We must make sure our mind-body system gets plenty of down time during the day so we can better handle the busier times.
Nine Stress Relief Basics
- Stay Active. Instead of thinking about exercise, think about movement. Any type of physical movement is good for the mind and body. Housecleaning, yard work, walking, swimming, dancing, boxing, organizing the garage, washing the car, Tai Chi, and playing with the grandkids are ways to stay healthy and relieve tension.
- Cultivate Laughter. Humor and laughter release both physical and emotional stress. They create positive responses in the body and help us keep things in perspective.
- Stay Connected. Social contact can be reading a book in a coffee shop or having a conversation with your best friends. We can connect with others on the phone, by emailing, on social websites, and by volunteering or becoming a member of a face to face book or environmental club. Social contact provides distraction, support, and pleasure—all stress relievers.
- Be Assertive. Nothing can pile on the stress more quickly than saying “yes” to someone when you want to say “no.” Avoiding conflict by agreeing to do something cannot only crowd your schedule, but cause chronic feelings of anger and resentment. If you have trouble saying “no,” consider individual or group counseling to increase your assertiveness skills.
- Consider Yoga. Yoga is generally done at a slow pace, stretches and strengthens our muscles and joints, and encourages controlled, deep breathing. It is one of the best exercises for relaxation and overall well being, and helps individuals manage symptoms of anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
- Get Plenty of Sleep. Lack of sleep can make the simplest daily tasks difficult. To encourage restful sleep enjoy a quiet bedtime routine each night, keep electronics out of the bedroom, and try retiring and rising at the same times each day.
- Write It Down. Several research studies show that putting thoughts and feelings down on paper (or a screen) help us manage them. Regular journaling is a recommended option, or you can save this technique for those times when you are feeling especially anxious or overwhelmed. Some people find great benefit in keeping a simple gratitude journal.
- Enjoy the Arts, Nurture Creativity. Enjoying the arts - literature, music, movies, sculpture - distracts us and stirs our natural affinity for what is beautiful, unique, or mind-bending. We also benefit greatly by pursuing personal interests and creative activities. Not only do they relax us, they also motivate and stimulate, keeping us engaged in life.
- Try Counseling. When life feels continually overwhelming, or like a trap, and daily activities become a tiring struggle, consider seeing a mental health professional. Counselors can help identify hidden sources of stress and teach effective coping tools and life skills.
Source: Mayo Clinic
Photo credit: Anoop Kumar / flickr