We hear it all the time. “Just relax.” If only it were that easy. For some people, relaxation comes easily. For others, it’s extremely challenging. Here are some quick and easy tips for how to relax during stressful times.
Any manner of slow, deep breathing is beneficial. Deep breathing helps slow everything down. Instead of living in fast-forward mode, the pace slows and becomes more manageable. Plus, you get great health benefits such as oxygenating your blood, reducing your heart rate, and calming your nerves.
Personally, when I’m really stressed out, I like to count while I breathe. In my head, I think Inhale, two, three, four. Exhale, two, three, four. I try to keep my inhale and exhale approximately the same length. Then, once I have that step mastered, I try to make my inhales and exhales longer.
I count and deep breathe for however long it takes to get myself calmed down. Sometimes that can take a while, but stay committed to the process.
2. Manage your stress.
We actually are the ones to create a vast amount of the stress in our daily lives. Stress can come in many forms. It can be internal pressure to accomplish non-essential tasks, the repercussions of procrastination, the effects of bad decisions, or a multitude of other situations.
Keep in mind, too, that not all stress is bad. When I was in high school, they had us fill out a “stress test” once. It was a quiz asking about whether certain things had happened in the past year. Naturally, things such as the death of a relative or a family divorce are stressful. However, the quiz also asked about starting a new job, getting a promotion, entering a romance or developing a new friendship.
I had never really thought about it, but those things all come with a certain amount of stress. Sure, the stress of a new job versus the stress of a dead relative aren’t the same, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t add to your stress pile and impact how you feel overall.
3. Learn to say, “No.”
For people who are notorious for over-committing, this is incredibly difficult. I know because I used to be one of those people. As a new mother, I was working some days of the week, being a stay-at-home mom some days of the week, serving on Boards and Committees, and volunteering in the community.
Let me tell you that sustaining this lifestyle only works for so long before you have to make some serious changes. Luckily, my husband was around to tell me that it’s okay to say no. Saying “no” is one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do in my life.
Although I love being involved, all of this involvement made me a little bit of a crazy person at home. I spent a lot more time venting and rolling my eyes than I would like to measure. My husband helped me seriously evaluate how I was spending my time and make adjustments so I was spending my time doing exactly what I wanted to be doing. This greatly helped reduce my stress and gave me a profound feeling of happiness.
Take a look at how you spend your time. When someone asks you to do something that you really don’t want to do, it’s okay to say “no.”
4. Take time for yourself everyday.
Make sure that you carve time out of your day everyday to do something that brings you joy. It doesn’t have to be a large amount of time–10 minutes will do– but you need to do something purely for yourself.
What do you really want to do right now? Give yourself permission to go do it. Everything else will still be here when you come back.
5. Eat healthy foods.
When you eat healthy foods, you give your body the vitamins and minerals that it needs to function correctly. As you can imagine, if you don’t supply these vitamins and minerals, your body starts to have problems. This is stressful to your systems. Even if your brain doesn’t particularly register this type of stress, your body feels it. It still counts as part of your stress level.
When you exercise, your body creates endorphins. These endorphins boost your mood and make you feel good. This good feeling helps you feel less stressed.
7. Get enough sleep.
It’s true–when you are well rested, you handle stress better. When something stressful happens, your brain doesn’t perceive it to be quite as drastic. Instead, you can calmly think through what is happening, what needs to happen, and make a decision about what to do. Frequently, the issues that are a big deal when you’re sleepy aren’t as big a deal when you feel rested.
How do you relax? Let us know in the comments below.
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