Tired. Exhausted. Beat-up. Shattered. Worn-out. Knackered!
Just a few of the nicer terms we use when stress is beating us.
Well, it’s time to fight back and get some control!
It’s time to get back into a better mental place – to give us the very best chance of managing our stress properly.
Here are seven popular relaxation techniques you can use to beat stress and stop it controlling you.
When you practise deep breathing, you breathe in slowly and deeply, while expanding your belly, allowing your diaphragm to contract. Breathing in this way sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax, which makes it effective for dealing with stress. It is a simple and versatile technique that can be learned and used immediately.
Progressive muscle relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is a very effective technique for releasing tension in your muscles: you tense a muscle for a few seconds and then relax it. For example, try clenching your fist for a few seconds and then letting go, releasing the tension so your hand is as loose as possible. Your hand should feel relaxed after doing this a few times. You can use this technique on any muscle in your body, so if you have a particularly tense area, you can concentrate on that. The typical areas that affected many people include the neck, chest, face and shoulders. If you do this daily, you will condition your muscles to relax much more freely and naturally.
You need an outlet for your tension so it’s not trapped inside you and used to create more stress and negative energy. Physical activity is an effective way to release tension, due to the fact you burn energy and feel like you’ve accomplished something. Yoga and tai chi are known to improve breathing and relaxation and are therefore good for stress and tension. If you’re more of a football or boxing fan, join your local club. The aim is to find a physical activity you enjoy.
You can channel the release of tension through healthy mental exertion. I can, however, think of a few board games that increase tension rather than reduce it, so if it becomes counterproductive, avoid it! Sitting down to do a crossword is relaxing for some people, and stressful for others. Use your common sense: if it’s not helping you reduce your stress, try something else.
Although I don’t practise meditation, I make sure I find a moment to relax every day, especially if I’m busy and find myself dealing with extra stress. People have told me meditation has helped reduce their stress and anxiety, improved their mood, and been good for their insomnia – so it could do the same for you. Meditation takes time to perfect, but if it’s something you would like to explore, you’ll find apps and videos on YouTube that will help get you started.
Have a clear-out
It feels very therapeutic to have a good clear-out. The more possessions we have, the more emotional attachment we have to them. This emotional attachment isn’t always negative, and you’ll probably have possessions that bring you great joy and comfort, like your favourite jumper or chair. At the end of your clear-out, I don’t expect you to have an empty home! However, there will be some items you just don’t need (or want) any more. A good clear-out can make you feel lighter and clearer. I do it regularly. When I looked at my wardrobe I noticed I tended to wear the same selection of clothing all the time, so I packed up all the clothes I hadn’t worn for a year and sent them to a charity shop. eBay is marvellous for raising some extra funds from unwanted stuff. You might be surprised by how much you can raise. Maybe you could put the money you raise towards a trip, or course?
A change of scenery
If you’re constantly looking at the same four walls, talking to the same people, or doing the same monotonous tasks or job, you’re not presenting your brain with the variety and challenge it needs and deserves. Predictability is boring, and boredom leads to unwanted feelings, including feeling trapped, leading to stress and tension. So spice up your life a little. Take a relaxing break, change your scenery, and do something out of the ordinary.
These techniques are listed in The Less-Stress Lifestyle. Start improving your lifestyle and managing stress better today - check it out!
ABOUT CARL VERNON
Carl Vernon is a best-selling author & speaker, talking and writing about all things anxiety, stress & well-being.