Sleep and Rest
Often, we just need a good night’ sleep or 6-8 hours of undisturbed relaxation to have a fresh mind. Then it becomes easier to focus on what is happening around us and to function smoothly. Once we get cracking on something that is irritating us it becomes a work in-progress and we do not feel like we are skirting the issue. Stress may lead to sleep-related disorders like sleep apnea and in serious cases, insomnia. When the same issue keeps playing in our mind repeatedly, it becomes difficult to change the focus to the need for sleep as opposed to getting rid of the problem.
Meditation, yoga, spa treatments, herbal remedies have been designed to reduce tensions and upsetting elements of daily life. Practice deep breathing if you do not have the time to plan out a relaxation schedule. Visualize pleasing situations and concentrate on the present. Special aromatic oils and music are also known to soothe your senses.
Have you ever noticed your breathing pattern when you are tense or under stress? It is usually shallow, jerky and unsteady and from the chest region. Until and unless this shallow, erratic breathing is replaced by deep and even breathing from the abdomen, the body will continue to be in a state of tension. Practicing abdominal breathing makes us feel calm and relaxed, mentally and physically. So concentrate on your breathing several times during the day — anywhere, anytime. Take a deep breath. Inhale through the nose. Feel the energy coming in and revitalizing your body. Breathe out through your mouth making a quiet relaxing whooshing sound like the wind you gently blow out. Continue to take long, slow, deep breaths which raise and lower your abdomen. Continue for 5-10 minutes and you’ll feel instant sense of well being.
Muscle relaxation training
One of the most tangible experiences of bodily stress is muscle tension or a tight contraction of several muscle groups in the body. By consciously doing the opposite, i.e. learning to keep the muscles loose and relaxed you could induce physical ease and mental calmness. To do this you have to first tense a set of muscles deliberately, as hard as you can do to feel real tension and discomfort in the muscles. Then slowly allow the muscles to relax and become aware internally the difference between tension and relaxation.
This is done progressively through every muscle group of the body like hands, arms, face, neck, shoulders, stomach, back, pelvis, legs and feet. Practiced in regular ½ hour sessions, sometimes with the help of machines (Biofeedback) over two weeks consistently can make you a relaxed, calm person.
Through the power of creating positive, desirable images in your mind, you can literally wish away tensions calm yourself and relax both body and mind. Though we all daydream or fantasize all the time, creative visualization harnesses your verbalizations and consciously employs them for bettering yourself and your life. All you have to do is to sit or lie down in a quiet place, close your eyes and allow your mind to form mental sense impressions — using all the five senses of touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste — create visions, scenes of your own favourite place, real or imaginary. As you do so, affirm verbally your ability to relax “(I am letting go of tension from by body” or “I am calm and peaceful, etc.)”. Practice this thrice a day for 5-10 minutes regularly and then increase the time.
Meditation is not necessarily a religious practice, nor is it just a form of rumination or mind control. Meditation is a process of making the mind free from disturbing thoughts. It teaches you to let your mind wander free and leads to pleasant experiences, heightened awareness and higher states of consciousness. It allows you to see yourself in a true perspective of being an observer, while being a part of it. It is deeply relaxing and rejuvenating.
Music, films, theater, painting, concerts, television, spectator sports, adventure sports, or amusement parks can all be regularly spaced out into your life to provide the much needed diversion from stresses of daily living. They may mentally block out stressors, providing a refreshing and safe outlet that enables the body and mind to regain balance and negate the ill effects of stress response. Though lasting only for a short period, they provide a shot in the arm for flagging spirits.
Keeping your back straight and neck upright will help to prevent muscular strains. You may often feel more tired and stressed because some part of your body aches.
Physical activity helps to release negative energy. Exercise of any kind is indispensable to good health, and if done consistently can provide a safe outlet for our day to day stresses and frustrations. It relaxes the muscles, floods the brain with oxygen, renews energy, regulates sleep and appetite, makes you more alert, and releases natural pain killers in the body and chemicals in the brain to improve your mood and concentration. Jogging, biking or swimming done at least 3-5 times a week or games and sports like tennis, golf, badminton is highly effective for younger persons. Aerobics, squeezing special stress balls and walking or playing in a park will help you to regain focus on the simpler joys in life.
What you eat can promote or relieve stress and effect how you handle situations. Stay healthy and stress-free by taking time out for meals, eating at regular times, avoiding sugars and fats. If you are stressed out and need a break from anxiety, try foods low in fat and protein and high in complex carbohydrates for a calming effect. If you’re looking to concentrate your energy to help get you through a stressful day, look for food that enhances alertness. Try to avoid drinking too much caffeine to get you through the day as it makes it difficult to relax when you get home.
Talking about things that bother you will help to give vent to your emotions and help to clarify the exact nature of problems. It may be possible to create a counseling or peer support group of say, women suffering from domestic violence, but these issues need not be the only reason for like-minded persons to come together. Kitty parties are an example of social support groups where it is easy to share one’s feelings and problems.
Keep a Diary
If you are afraid of being judged by other people when you pour your feelings out to them, then a personalized way to vent your thoughts and emotions is by keeping a diary. Going through the diary may give you peace and the ability to look back, in retrospect and realize how trivial some problems are.
Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones in the body. It increases the level of health-enhancing and antibody-producing cells enhancing the body’s immune system. As a physical and emotional release, laughter distracts us from guilt, shame, anger and other negative emotions while connecting us to those around us. So laugh away your blues and your tensions. Keep cheerful company, read funny books/jokes, watch comedy films and laugh heartily!
Encourage, reward and love yourself!
You are a wonderful person who is capable of doing many great things for yourself, your family and your community. Never underestimate your potential. Believe that you can achieve all that you set out to if you work conscientiously. While it is good to be meticulous, do not worry or get upset over small details. Take them in your stride and move forward. Reward yourself for making small things happen like getting an A grade, or having a productive day at work or pursuing the hobby of your choice.