Sometimes, life’s demands get so unmanageable that we end up stressed out, worn out, and miserable. Seize mental clarity and reclaim your equilibrium with this do-it-yourself guide to stress reduction.
Stress happens to all of us — it’s a natural reaction to life’s many ups and downs. But in today’s hectic world, stress is all too common, and it’s frequently unnecessary.
Guru Sathya Sai Baba claims that “Every experience that is drawn through any of the senses has an effect on one’s health.” That means all your pent-up tension could be making you physically sick, or at the very least, irritable and unhappy.
Effectively managing your own stress will leave you relaxed, focused, and ready to take on whatever the day throws at you. Learning this skill ultimately breaks the cycle of stress, teaching you to handle current stressors and protecting you from new ones. Here are our top tips for staying consistently zen throughout the day:
1. Exercise — Exercise releases endorphins, neurotransmitters that alleviate physical and mental pain. It might not seem like the case when you’re sweating that fourth mile/kilometer, but going for a run is a great way of restoring calm.
2. Meditate — Take a moment to relax and focus on your inner world. Repeat a positive mantra with meaning to you, like “I am calm, I am rested,” while blocking out all distractions. A few minutes a day is all it takes to re-route your brain’s neural pathways, taking you from panicked to peaceful in no time.
3. Laugh — We all know that a good laugh always makes you feel better, but I bet you didn’t know that there’s science behind it — Psych Central puts the phenomenon down to a reduction in stress hormones.
So don’t forget to give yourself time during the day to talk with friends, watch your favorite comedy, or any other activity that might keep you from feeling too dour or serious.
4. Get Some Perspective — In the moment, deadlines, pressure, and a neverending to-do list can feel like the end of the world, but don’t you always somehow manage to sort it all out in the end?
Have some faith in yourself and remember that there are others who are less fortunate than you. Not knowing what you’re going to make for dinner is nothing compared to not being able to eat at all.
5. Manage Your Workload — If you say “yes” to everything and everyone, you’ll burn out fast. Consider what’s important and prioritize. So often, we do people favors because we’re already in the habit of doing them — that’s how we get so busy! Make sure to remember that the person lending everyone in the office a helping hand doesn’t always have to be you
6. Be Present — This step might be as simple as LifeHacker’s suggestion to turn off your phone every now and again. Worrying about the future or regretting the past can ruin your day, often without good reason. The Dalai Lama said, “If there is no solution to the problem, then don’t waste time worrying about it. If there is a solution to the problem, then don’t waste time worrying about it.”
Well said, Your Holiness. The past is over, and the future is out of reach — the only thing we can control is how we choose to act in the present.
7. Reach Out — Sometimes, it just helps to talk. Don’t try and go it alone if you have friends, family, or any other support network around you. Remember that other people want to help more than you may think.
Talking something through with a friend can help you figure out the way to solve your problem, or even make you realize there never was one at all.
The seven points I’ve listed here fit into three categories — physical, spiritual, or mental ways to relax the mind and body when stress attacks. There’s one more way to sooth the body and soul, and I’ve saved it for last, as it covers all three — Thai massage.
This ancient art is an excellent way to relieve tension, along with many other applications. Thai massage simulates the physical motion needed to release endorphins, and it also raises mental awareness and clarity, lending both the provider and the recipient of the massage a tranquil sense of calm.
Give it a try today — your body, mind, and spirit will thank you for it!