Lets face it. In today’s fast paced modern world of work, family commitments, smart phones and minimal sleep, it can be tricky trying to relax when it all seems to be getting too much…
We all know that it’s important to try to relax where we can. However, relaxation does not mean just chilling out in front of the telly when we come home after a hard day at work or after we’ve put the kids to bed. Relxation is really a way of ‘calming’ the mind and body down. When stressed out, our body responds by triggering the ‘flight or fight’ mode. This means a rush of adrenaline which automatically speeds up our heart rate, breathing and is the same system which is activated in response to a life threatening situation. Think about how often you get stressed out? Now think about what this means.. a constant ‘switching on’ of our flight and fight response which in turn wears the body out, leading to potential health issues, tiredness, burnout and stress!
So what do we do?
Relax! Easier said than done- I know- but with just a little practice and consistency these relaxation techniques can help you to acheieve stress relief quickly and effectively.
Breathe deeply! Just through the simple act of breathing deeply through the abdomen then exhaling slowly thorugh the nose or mouth for a few minutes can do wonders for relaxation. Whilst this simple method doesn’t solve the underlying issues, its good technique to start with when your starting to feel panicky, anxious or just stressed out in general. Breathing deeply helps to reduce the effects of stress by slowing down blood pressure and the heart rate. In addition, when your breathing deeply and feeling calmer your able to think more clearly before you act. As we all know, often when we’re stressed out we can sometimes do or say things we regret later.
2. Practice Mindfulness.
After breathing deeply and calming yourself , this leads on to the next technique. Focus on the ‘now’ and be more aware of your surroundings. A good way to do this is just focus on something in your environment, in particular something you may enjoy doing. e.g. painting your nails, drinking a glass of juice- savouring the taste noticing the texture, the texture of the bubbles in the bath etc. When you spend a little time focusing or being mindful of the present, your less likely to feel anxious or stressed out as your attention is directed towards your external environment and not towards the problems that are causing you stress.
3. Talk about or write about what’s stressing you out!
Talk to a trusted friend, attend a support group or even book a session with a therapist. Often, its very easy for us to ‘run away’ with our thoughts until they become irrational. Friends and an non judgemental therapist can often offer us a different perspective on the issues that are causing us stress. In addition, just simply talking about the issues behind the stress, is in itself a ‘release’ and can give us that reassurance that we are not ‘alone’ with our issues. By writing down what causes us stress we can also help to apply those issues to paper (or screen) so that they become more manageable. It may even help to include positive solutions to the issues so that you come up with a plan of action when things aren’t going well. For example, if your stressed out about exams then you could note down some of the solutions to reduce the stress. e.g. study, practice deep breathing, attend study group, stick up notes etc. This can help us to feel more resourceful and in control over the issues that are causing us stress.
BONUS Tip: Practice Self hypnosis.
After the breathing excercise as desbribed in paragraph one above, you can then count down from 10 to one and then visualise positive images of yourself having overcome or dealt with whatever is causing the stress. For example, if your worried about exam results then you could focus on images of opening the envelope containing your results and reacting with compleate joy (in a manner that you normally would react with) at achieving really good grades. Ensure that you see everything in detail and that the images you focus on are as realistic as possible. This simple technique is excellent for goal setting as its communicating the message to your mind that this particular image is your new reality so that your more likely to work towards this goal and potentially achieve it. If you feel like you need help learning self hypnosis or feel that you need some assistance with stress or anything else- feel free to get in touch.
Please note: Its very important that you practice some of the above techniques in a place where you will not be disturbed and where you are not driving or operating heavy machinery or you have nothing urgent to attend to.