April is National Stress Awareness Month! Take time to unwind…It’s healthy to relax. Stress happens. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, at times it’s unbearable. That’s why taking time for yourself is a necessity.
Work demands, financial pressures, family problems, and many other things can cause stress. Luckily, there is a low-cost, fast-acting and highly effective treatment available. It’s called “relaxation,” and the directions are simple: for maximum effectiveness, use as often as needed.
Relax. You deserve it, it’s good for you, and it takes less time than you think.
Make time in your daily routine for you and your relaxation; you only need a few minutes. Can’t book spa treatment or weekend getaway? No problem, try these quick and easy techniques to relieve stress and tension.
A few minutes of meditation every day can alleviate the anxiety from the days stress triggers. Never meditated before? Not to worry, It’s simple. Sit up straight with both feet on the floor. Close your eyes. Focus your attention on reciting — out loud or silently — a positive mantra such as “I feel at peace” or “I love myself.” Place one hand on your belly to sync the mantra with your breaths. Let any distracting thoughts float by like clouds. No excuses, this can be done at your desk in between responding to emails or before a meeting.
2. Breathe Deeply
Take a 5-minute break and focus on your breathing instead of your to-do list. Sit up straight, close your eyes, and place a hand on your belly. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and work its way to the top of your head. Reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth.
3. Be Present
When you spend time in the moment and focus on your senses, you should feel less tense. Slow down. Don’t stress about what you have to do tomorrow or next week, focus on today.
4. Reach Out
Your social network is one of your best tools for handling stress. Talk to others — preferably face to face, or at least on the phone. Share what’s going on. You can get a fresh perspective while keeping your connection strong.
5. Tune in to your body
Mentally scan your body to get a sense of how stress affects it each day. Lie on your back, or sit with your feet on the floor. Start at your toes and work your way up to your scalp, noticing how your body feels. Back and shoulders feeling tight from sitting at the computer all day, consider booking the massage you want and keep putting off.
Place a warm heat wrap around your neck and shoulders for 10 minutes. Close your eyes and relax your face, neck, upper chest, and back muscles. Remove the wrap, and use a tennis ball or foam roller to massage away tension.
7. Laugh Out Loud
A good belly laugh doesn’t just lighten the load mentally, it lowers cortisol, your body’s stress hormone, and boosts brain chemicals called endorphins, which help your mood. Lighten up by tuning in to your favorite sitcom or video, reading the comics, or chatting with someone who makes you smile.
8. Crank up the tunes
Research shows that listening to soothing music can lower blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety. Create a playlist of songs or nature sounds (the ocean, a bubbling brook, birds chirping), and allow your mind to focus on the different melodies, instruments, or singers in the piece. You also can blow off steam by rocking out to more upbeat tunes — or singing at the top of your lungs!
9. Get Moving
You don’t have to run in order to get a runner’s high. All forms of exercise, including yoga and walking, can ease depression and anxiety by helping the brain release feel-good chemicals and by giving your body a chance to practice dealing with stress. You can go for a quick walk around the block, take the stairs up and down a few flights, or do some stretching exercises like head rolls and shoulder shrugs.
10. Be Grateful
Keep a gratitude journal or several (one by your bed, one in your purse, and one at work) to help you remember all the things that are good in your life. When you start feeling stressed, spend a few minutes looking through your notes to remind yourself what really matters.