Relaxing is something everybody deserves, and it takes less time than you realize. You don’t have to go on vacation or to a spa to feel calm. There are simple practices that offer relief, with a method for everyone’s tastes and beliefs. Practicing a few of these techniques every day can help reduce the level of stress in your life.
There’s not much skill required for meditating and it’s an instant way to ease anxiety. Daily practice has been shown to alter your brain’s neural pathways, which can make you more resilient to stress. Sit up straight and close your eyes. Focus on reciting a mantra to yourself, such as ‘I feel at peace’, and sync the mantra with your breathing. If a thought enters your mind, let it float away.
2. Breathe deeply
This technique works very similarly to meditation. This practice slows the heart rate and lowers blood pressure, countering the effects of stress. Sit up straight and close your eyes. Inhale through your nose slowly. Pay attention to how your breath begins in the abdomen, working its way to the top of your head. Reverse this process while exhaling from your mouth.
3. Be present
By slowing down and focusing on the time spent in the moment, you can relieve tension. This is done by focusing on your senses. Take five minutes to focus on a single thing. This can be the taste of the food you’re eating or the feeling of your feet hitting the ground when you’re walking.
4. Talk to friends
A great way to lessen the effects of stress is not to bear it by yourself. Reach out to your friends. Talking with others, whether face to face or over the phone, can offer you the opportunity to share your concerns and feelings. It also provides you with a different perspective and strengthens your bond with others.
5. Listen to your body
Sometimes you don’t realize where stress and physical tension is resting in your body. A mental scan of your body can help you understand how stress affects your joints, muscles and bones on a daily basis. Sit still or lie back on a bed, starting from your toes, working upwards, simply being aware of what feels loose, and what feels tight.
6. Practicing gratitude
Being grateful can help cancel out worries and negative thoughts. The best way to keep a positive perspective is by keeping a gratitude journal. This can help you remember all the good things that you have in your life, such as your accomplishments, loved ones, passions and skills. When you start feeling stressed, take a moment to look over your notes. This will remind you what really matters, and not to be a "Negative Nancy".
7. Decompress, with a DIY massage
Treat your neck and shoulders to some relief with a warm heat wrap, for 10 minutes, wearing it close to your eyes, relaxing your face, neck, upper chest and back muscles. Next, take a foam roller or a hand-sized ball to massage away the tension. Place the ball between your back and the wall. Leaning against the ball, apply gentle pressure for 15 seconds, then move the ball to other tense areas.
8. Giggle, chuckle, laugh
Laughing has a chemical effect on your mood because it lowers cortisol, the body’s stress hormone, and releases endorphins, which are chemicals produced by your brain that elevate your mood. There are many ways to tickle your funny bone. Read jokes or comics, watch a funny video, or chat with a funny friend.
9. Get moving
Exercise is another way to release feel-good brain chemicals. You don’t have to engage in extreme sports. Mild exercise such as walking and yoga has been shown to ease depression and anxiety. Start with something easy, like a walk around the block, choosing the stairs or even some stretching.