As I write this I’m ending a frantic week trying to get everything together before we go on holiday (vacation) to Gozo. As you read this (if its around 27th July) I should be totally chilled (but also very hot!) as I relax on holiday. So with that in mind I thought I’d write a quick checklist of things you can do if to keep stress at bay and feel more relaxed.
Stress is a bit of a fashionable buzz word. There are similarities and links between stress and anxiety – both can lead to unpleasant, disabling symptoms. When we feel stressed we often feel out of control of the situation – which undermines our self confidence. So try these ten easy relaxation tips to feel more relaxed and in control.
1. Take a short break and leave a stressful situation. If you are at work, offer to run an errand or go for a short walk. A few minutes away can help you think clearly and the walk will get rid of some of the tension in your body. 2. Take a break from the activity you are working on and do something different. Sometimes it helps to come back to a stressful task later when you feel more relaxed instead of persevering. If you are at home with small children it is often better to stop when they, and you, become frustrated and take some time out to do something else so everyone can calm down.
3. Listen to relaxing music while you work. Listening to classical or nature music has been shown to lower heart rate and slow breathing. People often report feeling calmer after listening to calming music. Develop the habit of playing music in the background while you work for easy relaxation.
4. Take regular breaks during the day. Spend 5-10 minutes to read something uplifting or humorous, or chat with a friend. Small breaks help to prevent your mind and body from becoming fatigued, a major source of stress.
5. Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the ability to be fully aware of the present moment. It is a skill that helps to reduce stress and depression. Learning relaxation techniques is a good way to start learning mindfulness. As you gradually become more aware of your body and subtle changes that occur with relaxation your ability to notice small changes will improve. Start by spending 5 minutes a day just sitting in the quite noticing the sights, sounds and bodily sensations you are having. You can also learn mindfulness through meditation techniques.
6. Change your focus. As people feel more stressed their attention becomes focused on what they believe to be the cause of their stress and they ignore other information. Write down the things that were good about the day. Keep a gratitude journal.
7. Have a hot bath or shower. This will help to get rid of the tension in your muscles which is a normal result of stress.
8. Write down the things that are worrying you. If you are worried it is very difficult to relax easily. Once you have written them down then see how much control you have over them. Can you take any action to solve the problem or are you worrying about things that are out of your control. Worry is a habit that can be helped by learning effective relaxation techniques.
9. Keep things in perspective. Ask yourself “how important is it?”, “How important will it be in a year’s time?” Many of the things that cause stress are not important when we look at the big picture.
10. Slow your breathing and purposefully relax your body for quick results. This will be easier if you have learned easy relaxation methods that you can use when you need them. I own, use and recommend Heather Bestel’s “Just 10 Minutes” CD or MP3.