- Mental Health»
- Stress Management
Ten Ways to Find Relaxation
Regardless of who you are and what your schedule looks like, everybody gets to a point in their lives where they need a way to relax.
You can feel your muscles tightening, your patience becomes shorter and you can't handle things like you normally do, you may even be tired.
Frustration creeps up, your head might start hurting and you just can't focus. Don't worry. every single person on the face of the Earth gets to this point at least once a week. But then what do you do?
You can't stop working, can't keep taking vacations, and more sleep isn't helping. In fact, you're even having trouble sleeping. There are some really easy actions that you can take, most of them without even disrupting your day.
Let's look at some of them, from the easiest tip to the most more complicated.
Where do your stressors really affect you?
This action will only take about 30 seconds by may help you gain at least another couple of hours.
When you start feeling the pressure and the stress:
- sit back from your desk/computer/classwork
- close your eyes
- stretch your torso up straight (stand up if you need to)
- think of something peaceful like clouds floating by, a current taking water downstream, etc.
- breathe deeply, in through your nose for 3 seconds, out through your mouth for 3 seconds
- repeat at least 3 times or until you begin feeling a little bit better
This simple to do exercise may only take a little while, but it will give your brain and your body the small break it needs to stop, refocus, and get back on track. You'd also be surprised at how little oxygen your body gets when you really get focused on a project.
This lack of oxygen to your brain and your muscles cause them to tense up and make you unfocused, both of which are frustrating. A little bit of extra oxygen will make you feel better from head to toe.
If you find that deep breathing simply isn't cutting it for you, a few simple stretches that will only take a few minutes of your time might be the trick.
Obviously if you're at work, donning your exercise clothes and popping in a video simply may not work. However standing up in front of your desk, or wherever you are, and stretching in place isn't all that difficult.
- Try standing up, stretching your arms high in the air, coming up on your toes to get a good stretch all the way through your body.
- Reach down and touch your toes. No bouncing, just stretching. Feel free to keep your knees slightly bent. You don't want to lock them.
- Put your arms on your hips and stretch your head, neck and shoulders backward.
- Spread your legs slightly and turn as far as you can to the right and to the left. Keeping your legs spread, put your right hand on your hip and reach your left hand up over your head and reach to the right stretching your side.
- Switch sides, putting your left hand on your hip, reach your right hand up over your head and out to the left stretching your other side.
Just some simple stretches, taking only a few seconds each, will wake you up, revitalize you, and keep you going for a little longer. Muscles get tight sitting in one place for too long. Give them the stretch they desire and they will treat you right until the end of the day.
Talk about not interrupting your day . . . lol.
You've probably often heard the guideline that you should drink at least eight 8-oz. glasses of water each day. Everyone knows that water is necessary for life and good health, but the actual effects of water on the human body may not be so clear.
In truth, water is integral to all biological processes, says MayoClinic.com, and has multiple effects on the body. (The Effects of Water Intake on the Human Body)
Your body is 60% water. Water is integral for lubricating your entire system, from your eyes, your brain, your spinal column, your digestion, your joints, and even your muscles. You can easily see what the consequences would be for not drinking enough water.
Water also regulates your body temperature, and helps with the transportation of nutrients throughout your body and waste out. Without enough water in your system, you will quickly experience symptoms like thirst, sleepiness, fatigue, a tacky mouth, dry cough, headache, parched skin, and constipation. (When Your Body Lacks Water)
Drink plenty of water throughout the day and you might easily eliminate much of the pain and discomfort you might be feeling right away.
I know I get fussy when I sit in one place for too long. I stand up, stretch, do my deep breathing, and even drink plenty of water and yet, I can still feel my limbs and muscles going numb and/or tingling and just have to do more.
Sometimes, getting up and getting your body moving is exactly what you need. If you can't go out and hit the trail for 30 minutes to an hour, maybe you can simply walk around the building. Go to the bathroom, go get a drink of water, go the long way around the building to make your copies or drop off paperwork.
So, lowered blood pressure, less joint pressure, a decreased risk of stroke and an opportunity to keep excess weight at bay not enough to get you walking? How about a better night’s sleep, decreased stress, a better memory and less depression?
While walking boasts a number of physical benefits, it also can give the brain mental boosts as well. (Benefits of Walking) An outdoor stroll can help erase a bad day as you instead start to focus on the surrounding environment.
“When you’re walking there’s an opportunity for meditative intent. You can be silent and focus on creating a connection with your body through prayer, breathing or a phrase,” she says. “It’s a wonderful way of changing your focus.” (Staying Active)
When all else isn't working, I find the need to step away from my work completely and turn on some soft music.
I particularly like jazz myself. Artists like Nora Jones, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra bring down my blood temperature, slow my heart rate and really melt away the stress.
Strangely enough, I usually use this time to do the dishes, vacuum, do the laundry and otherwise clean the house. lol This may not be what you choose to do during this time, but I get really distracted when the house is a mess, and cleaning it up makes me feel 100% better, allowing me to focus on what's important.
Many people choose to put on some headphones while they're working to tune out everything else and listen to calming music or just play music in the background to keep the environment peaceful while they're working.
Depending on how you use it, this can keep from being a distraction altogether allowing you to continue working, or it can be used for a break during the day. I guess it depends on what you need at the moment.
The temperature in the building/in your room can make a big difference as well. If you are freezing, work will be miserable as you spend your entire day trying to warm up.
Of course, if it's too hot you'll be just as distracted sweating, uncomfortable, needing a drink, and possibly even falling asleep.
It might just take a small temperature change (or even stepping outside if you don't have control over the temperature) to change your whole day and help you relax. Make sure you have what you need to be comfortable while you are working.
Do you need a sweatshirt and some comfortable heavy socks? What about an iced drink and a fan? If the temperature in your environment is stressing you out, distracting you, and making you uncomfortable, take your day into your own hands and make the needed changes.
Tea can be a fabulous tool for helping to promote relaxation and to help our bodies and minds deal with stress. Theanine, an amino acid found in tea, is proven to reduce mental and physical stress and promote feelings of relaxation. (Tea and Relaxation)
In fact, when Theanine is taken in conjunction with caffeine, especially low levels of caffeine such as those found in tea, Theanine actually improves your mood!
Not only is tea chemically prepared to relax you, but the simple process of sipping a delicious hot tea, with the warmth, aroma and )flavor relaxing your senses can lull you into a very relaxed state of mind. Tea can also be used as an aide to meditation and a focus for your mental repose. (Tea Health Benefits)
What you may not know though is hot tea is also a great cure for headaches. The warm and nutrients in the tea course through your body during consumption relaxing everything from your head to your toes, and filling it will healthy vitamins and minerals that allow it to work better for you.
Not only is this a natural pain reliever, but you will find yourself more focused, with better memory, but you will have the energy to keeping working and be more productive. How can it get better than this!
So obviously these last few suggestions cannot be taken advantage of in a working environment, but if you work from home, or have time to take advantage of any of these after your work day, your body will thank you!
Just as the warmth for the hot tea can relax you from the inside out, a nice hot bath can do the same for you from the outside in. In ancient times, herbal baths were employed to help the sick, while mineral baths were used for detoxification.
The act of bathing stimulates blood circulation and calms the nervous system. It can also help relieve common aches and pains associated with arthritis, menstrual cramps, inflammation, hemorrhoids, muscle pains and spasms. (Discovery Health)
When a hot bath is followed with gentle stretching, the benefits to the musculoskeletal system may even reduce the number of trips many people take to the chiropractor by helping to maintain muscle position and equal tension on the skeletal system. The psychological benefits from the time to relax and unwind are numerous. (Health Benefits)
But some of the true benefits of taking a nice hot bath include relaxing your mind as well as your body and taking your mind off of the tensions and worries of your day.
A good book or magazine while relaxing in the bath can take your mind off financial and emotional worries and give you a clearer head when you need to address these problems at a later time. (Sunflower Naturals)
Though you don't have to do all of your reading in the bathtub, that's an amazing time to take advantage of. Sometimes one of the best ways to escape the tensions of the day is to be absorbed in a great story.
When I read a great book, it's easy to become engrossed and read away hours just like others lose days playing video games. I cry with the characters, laugh, smile, get angry, and get frustrated just like they do.
I forget the bills, the rude utility company representatives, my neighbor that keeps complaining about all of the dogs in the neighborhood, including mine, and my husband texting to tell me he's going to be late again.
I can relax into our comfy couch with my pjs on and forget about real life. There's definitely nothing better!
Finally, if nothing else is working, I highly suggest a professional massage.
If you are lucky enough to have someone at home that knows how to give you a truly relaxing massage, go for it. Otherwise, you might want to visit a School of Massage or possibly a Massage Envy in your area.
Experts estimate that upwards of ninety percent of disease is stress related. And perhaps nothing ages us faster, internally and externally, than high stress. While eliminating anxiety and pressure altogether in this fast-paced world may be idealistic, massage can, without a doubt, help manage stress. This translates into:
- Decreased anxiety.
- Enhanced sleep quality.
- Greater energy.
- Improved concentration.
- Increased circulation.
- Reduced fatigue.
Getting a massage can do you a world of good. And getting massage frequently can do even more. This is the beauty of bodywork. Taking part in this form of regularly scheduled self-care can play a huge part in how healthy you'll be and how youthful you'll remain with each passing year. (Massage Therapy)
Whatever way you choose to relax and lower your stress levels, please choose something. The damaging effects of stress are numerous and range from physical damage, emotional damage, and even mental damage.
Long-term stress damages the brain, impairing everything from emotion and impulse control to certain big-picture analytical thinking.
“In essence, with chronic stress, you become more primitive,” says Amy Arnsten, professor of neurobiology at Yale University. (Washington Times)
Do yourself a favor and find what works for you. Whether it's a few stretches, a nice walk around the neighborhood, a mug of hot tea or a professional massage, it's more important than you think to keep yourself balanced and healthy, if just for your future.
I really hope one of these methods works for you!