How do you react when your plans fall through? Do you roll with the punches? Or does anxiety keep you from enjoying life?
To a great extent, our personality determines how we deal with stress in our lives, but here are 5 things to help keep your stress under control:
1. Sleep more. It’s very common in our society to exist on less than 6 hours of sleep a night. But experts keep telling us we need at least 8 hours. Not just to rest our bodies, but to rejuvenate our minds. “Tired” and “cranky” seem to go hand in hand. Don’t use your bedroom to watch the news or finish up some work from the office. Make that room your haven, a place to relax and escape the day. Have a hot cup of tea, take a warm bath, or read a paperback to help you unwind.
2. Have faith. Saying a short prayer in times of stress can give you a sense of calm, especially when the situation is one you really have no control over. Studies have shown that people who trust in a higher power have lower blood pressure. Being able to forgive people also can affect your blood pressure. Holding a grudge is not good for your health!
3. Turn it off. The convenience that cell phones have added to our lives can actually be a double-edged sword. We depend on them so much it seems we can’t live without them. This increased accessibility means not only can our loved ones reach us at any time, but so can work. If your employer legitimately needs to have your cell phone number, make sure you set clear limits on when you can and cannot be reached. Your time off is yours.
4. Take a holiday. It doesn’t have to be a fancy vacation resort. A day at the beach, or an afternoon at the park will do. Just anywhere you can be and not think about the bills, work, or whatever tensions you may have. It’s important to take time for yourself, so do it! You’ll feel better with a fresh outlook.
5. Treat yourself. Sign up for a yoga class at your local gym or community center. The costs are nominal, and you’ll feel more relaxed after even just one session. A monthly massage or a spa treatment is also a great way to recharge. You’ll walk out feeling like a million dollar bowl of jelly.
Stress is unavoidable.
But what we do about it is up to us. Experiment with these suggestions and see what works for you, but sometimes, no matter what you do, you just can’t shake the stress.
Stress relief is something that remains allusive to many people. If you’ve ever come home from work and felt like you just couldn’t unwind or been unable to sleep because you just couldn’t stop worrying about something going on the next day, you’re in need of major Stress relief!
The problem is that many people don’t talk about stress or really consider it a problem that needs addressing. Whether your stress is caused by work, school, relationships, world events, finances or anything else, it needs attention now before it begins to show its face in the form of physical ailments later.
Achieving stress relief is easy – if you know the right techniques to reduce your stress levels. The first major rule of stress is to never ignore it. You can’t just pretend that the constant nervous feeling in your stomach is going to go away or expect your high blood pressure to go down on its own. You have to teach yourself the best stress relief methods possible to get your symptoms under control.
An easy stress relief method that anyone can do, at home or at work, is meditation. The great thing about meditation is that there are many different ways to do it and it’s just a matter of figuring out what works best for you. Some people meditate using visualization, others chant an affirmation over and over again in their mind and some use breathing techniques. No matter what meditation method you use for your stress relief, make sure you find a quiet spot to practice in. Close the door to your office or find an isolated part of your home to be alone with your thoughts. Then, use meditation to push out all the negative, stress inducing feelings you’ve been having and help clear your mind.
Listening to soothing noises is a Stress relief method that you can use to relax yourself before you go to bed or to calm yourself down after a particularly stressful day or experience. Purchase an alarm clock with tranquil sounds on it- i.e., a recording of rain, waves, birds or soft music works well. You can also purchase CD’s or MP3’s like this that have a variety of soothing sounds on them. This is not the time to think about your problems. Instead, focus on enjoying the moment and relaxing your body and mind. You’ll find that when you are done with this stress relief method, your body will feel less tense and your mind will be clear.
Deep breathing is another stress management method that works well in any situation. If you’ve had a fight, feel worried about something or are stressed about a problem, try taking deep breaths. Become aware of how you are breathing in and out and make sure to deeply exhale as well. Try holding your breath for five counts and then release it. This stress relief method will help to slow your heart rate back down and keep your feelings collected.
A Chronic Problem
Do you find it difficult to make decisions? Do you feel generally unsettled and sometimes downright irritable? When you stop and think about it are you aware of an underlying sense of anxiety or worry that permeates every aspect of your life?
If you’re nodding your head to all or most of these questions chances are that you are suffering from chronic stress.
Although the word stress is frequently heard it’s far reaching long term damage is little appreciated. Allowing it to continue builds invisible barriers in your life and limits your ability to simply enjoy life and your capacity to express emotions and appreciate opportunities. If a sense of stress becomes the norm rather than the exception you run the risk of inflicting serious damage to your health and limits to your future happiness.
Think about it – imagine how different your life would be if you just went ahead with decisions and once you made those decisions they didn’t come back to haunt you. Imagine how much more energy you’d have to enjoy activities that you put off now, because you ‘don’t feel up to it,’ or you ‘just have to get some extra work done.’
Don’t worry if you feel all of the above is pertinent – you are not alone. Stress and anxiety are commonplace in competitive environments and most workplaces. Unfortunately nowadays we are bought up to believe that you must be seen to succeed at everything and that you must be able to buy all the latest products and gizmos to add short-term enjoyment to your life.
With this kind of everyday pressure to face it’s not by accident that such conditions as IBS, chronic backache, depression, psoriasis and migraine are on the increase in our hi-speed, consumer oriented society. Understandably when we fall pray to these conditions we seek our doctor’s advice, who will invariably prescribe a drug regime. This traps you in a syndrome of dependency on drugs and feelings of failure because you are unable to cope with life like everyone else seems to.
What Can You Do to Avoid the Stress Trap?
The simple answer is to learn the art of living consciously and being self-aware in the right way. Instead of constantly going over thoughts in your head that point out your mistakes and what everyone else is thinking, ask yourself some useful questions.
You could start by posing the question: ‘How am I contributing to my feelings of stress?‘ This could lead you to examine what exactly you’re saying to yourself in your head and noticing whether it’s of value or helpful.
Then perhaps check whether you’re tensing up your body anywhere. You may suddenly be aware that every time you talk to a certain person you are unconsciously tensing up your neck and shoulders.
Now check whether you’re habitually imagining things going wrong, or rehearsing arguments to have or how to defend yourself.
Changing your thinking in this way may seem subtle but it has far reaching effects. Firstly it puts you back in control and makes you concentrate on the here and now instead of racing off into your own make-believe land of disaster.
Other key steps to the road of recovery and life enhancement are:
Acknowledge your current feelings – being aware is the first step to recovery.
Get help – seeking support is not a sign of weakness but a step of growth. Talking with a therapist, friends or family about your concerns and frustrations relieves emotional tension and brings a sense of relief – you’re not alone.
Learn how to relax – we so often feel that lying inert in front of the TV of an evening is relaxing. It isn’t. Your mind and body need the benefits of regular relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, calm moments of mental space, regular exercise. The resulting energy and clear head thinking you’ll experience will convince you of their worth.
Doing any or all of these exercises will help you regain control and start to create the life you were meant to have. Why wait any longer?