Last week I surveyed my Facebook and Twitter community to see what they consider to be their top instant stress relievers. Of all of my surveys this is the one from which I have received the largest response to date. What does that say? Stress is pervasive these days with the perceived recession, and the natural disasters across the world. Here are some great things that you can do to instantly reset your day.
A good meal or even a fun snack can take your mind away from the stresses of the moment especially if the stress happens to be that you’re hungry! Of course, you have to be careful what you’re indulging, and notice whether the food is becoming a crutch to soothe a deeper emotional issue. If you find this is the case, you may consider seeking assistance (support group, coach, therapist, etc).
Did you know music can actually change the brainwaves to a more relaxing state? This phenomenon has been studied, and perhaps this is why so many people resonate with music on such a deeper level. Music therapy has been used for decades, so why not try a little for yourself? If you are feeling stressed, turn on some soothing sounds---jazz, new age, soul—and if you are feeling sad, maybe put on some feel good music: my personal favorite spirit lifting music is from the Carribean--- calypso, latin folk, salsa, and soca. Just remember, if you are already agitated, you want to avoid harsh tunes like metal, hard rock, or certain types of rap genres. They may be counter productive to your current mood.
Much like music, dance is the language of the soul. And the wonderful thing is that you don’t have to be a pro to move your body to music. So, next time you are feeling a little up tight, put a little tune on and dance like no one is looking!
Writing can not only tap into your imagination, but it can also be cathartic. Some choose to write poetry to take the edge off, and other delve into short stories and even novels. Still others may choose to journal or “dump” their feelings on the page never to be looked at again. Whatever your method, take a pen to paper and let the ink flow. Similarly, drawing, sketching, and painting can have the same healing effects.
Now, I personally am not a knitter, but many people I know rave about the relaxing effects of this skill. Outside of relaxation, the benefit to knitting is that if you’re good, you will never have to Christmas shop (just kidding). However, knitting produces great gifts for family members, and some have even started businesses from their skill. I’m not suggesting that you quit your corporate job, I’m merely saying that it’s a skill that may be worth picking up if you are looking for a relaxing hobby.
Whether it’s a casual stroll in the woods or an intense kickboxing class, getting your body moving is a great way to let off some tension. If you are taking a relaxing walk, it is much like meditation (that comes next), and if you are engaging in intense physical activity, endorphin release will give you a nice euphoric feeling to combat and help you to release the stresses of the day. So pick your activity…just get moving!
Meditation comes in many forms and can be done virtually anywhere. Some think that meditation means sitting cross legged on the floor chanting (and sometimes it is), but meditation is really just the process of focusing the mind on a particular thing or activity. This can be as simple as a deep breath or two, to a short prayer, to a short walk in a quiet place. Yoga is a form of movement meditation, and sometimes just sitting still in silence clearing the mind is just what you need to reset your day. For a little treat visit this link for a 6 minute relaxation that can be accessed anytime.
There is nothing like soaking in a hot bath to relax the muscles and the mind after a hard day’s work. Add your favorite scented salt and light some candles for ambience. Bring some music in and let your mind drift away.
Sex is an often overlooked part of normal & balanced well-being. A great stress reliever, it incorporates a little exercise and hopefully ends with total relaxation. Physiologically, during orgasm males and females experience intense and momentary muscular contractions, which is then followed by relaxation. In women the hormone oxytocin is often released after sex which gives the women the urge for physical closeness (also known as the cuddle hormone). There is also a release of endorphins with orgasm as well giving a euphoric feeling afterwards.
There is scientific truth to back the old adage “laughter is the best medicine.” Laughter actually reduces stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine, and dopamine while enhancing endorphins and other feel good neurotransmitters. It also improves the immune system by increasing the effectiveness of the T cells which help fight infections in the body. Finally, laughter brings focus away from anger, guilt, and sadness and promotes community among even strangers.
Connecting with someone you love
Ever wonder why you usually want to call our best friend or a close family member when you are feeling extremely stressed? The answer is that you are most likely reaching out for emotional connection from that person that you care about. We are social beings by nature and emotional connection is paramount in every aspect of our lives. This is the experience of intimacy of which there are many levels and types. Whether by phone, or in person a soothing voice can dissolve stressful feelings in difficult times. Hugs are a great way to connect with people you have a rapport with at home or at work. Next time a friend or colleague is stressing out, offer them a hug. You might see surprise in their eyes, but underneath (even if they say no), they’ll know you care.
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