Alternative ways to destress and bring calm back
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Stress affects all of us at some point in our lives. Normally, it’s big life events – even the happy ones, that can cause us the most stress. However, stress can also build up over time especially if you are juggling lots of plates.
The good news is, there are strategies that you can adopt to beat stress; making you feel calmer, giving you more energy and allowing you to cope better with every day life. These strategies you can use to destress in under 5 minutes every day and will have a positive effect on your well-being.
Writing is a proven way to de-stress. It is one of the methods that is used in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – a common therapy for anxiety and depression.
Writing down your thoughts (even if you are just throwing them away) is a way to de-clutter your mind for clearer thinking and less overwhelm. Someone once said to me it’s the equivalent to closing a few tabs on your computer!
It can also help with turning consistent negative thoughts into positive ones. Our brain can be trained by doing something/thinking something over and over again – so jot it down every day! A gratitude journal will encourage your mind to think happy thoughts.
Just like we have a stress response (raised heart rate, heavy breathing), our bodies also respond when we start to slow our breathing and our heart rate returns to normal. Breathing activities will give your body a nudge to kick start that process and you will feel better because of it.
Did you know there is a right way to breathe and many of us do it wrong? In his book, ‘Anxiety Free: Stop Worrying and Quieten Your Mind‘ Patrick Mckeown talks about how Chronic overbreathing is a habit present with any person who experiences stress, anxiety, panic attacks and depression.
The Buteyko Method is recommended to improve oxygenation of the brain. The book also talks about quietening the mind and getting more control over it instead of being at it’s mercy.
If you are looking for ways to destress yourself instantly when you are in a stressful situation, breathing exercises are an invaluable tool to learn.
#3 Walking outdoors
There have been plenty of studies that show being outdoors is good for our mental health. The air is better, you are not distracted by technology, and you take in the smaller things that you wouldn’t normally notice. Taking a quick walk will also break up routine and take you out of your mental rut.
I don’t know about you, but looking up at the sky makes me feel smaller, and therefore my problems too. Physical excersize also plays a big part in your overall health, so walking or running will benefit you greatly as mental and physical health go hand in hand.
Meditation can provide us with some relief from stress, but it can also help us deal with stressful situations better in the future too. I think a lot of people have a reluctance to try it because it sounds a bit hippy-ish, but it’s basically just making your thoughts be quiet for a few minutes. That’s all, nothing weird about it!
Just like going to the gym to improve our physical health, meditation is excersize for your mental health. If you don’t know how to begin, ‘Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics: A 10% Happier How-To Book‘ by Dan Harris might be the book for you. I am still working on the meditation because I have such a busy mind, but this book is really good.
Meditation is something you can add easily to your morning routine and set you up for the day. It is a powerful tool to learn so you can just stop and get out of your busy head!
A lot of the time we don’t know that we are stressed until we are far too overwhelmed as we haven’t taken the time to check-in.
Mindfulness is all about being in the present moment, being aware of thoughts, sounds, and smells. A bit like meditation.
Try sitting quietly with a hot drink of tea and focus on that. Listen to your thoughts and what pops into your head. Taking a few minutes to do this everyday will help you to be attuned to your thoughts and your emotional well-being.
#6 Relaxing Music
You might have heard about music therapy and how it can help us destress. Scientists have actually found what they deem to be the most relaxing song ever. During an experiment, the song ‘Weightless’ by Marconi Union, produced a greater state of relaxation than any other music tested to date!
#7 Essential oils
It’s not only sounds that our bodies responds too but smells too. Scents will trigger different reactions in the body. Aromatherapy products (essential oils) are widely used to promote calm and relaxation and you can use them at home too, try burning lavender oil in an oil burner at the end of the day.
Many people don’t know the physical effect lack of sleep can have on our brains – there is a reason we become irrational, moody, and aren’t able to think straight. It is really important that we get at least 7 hours a night (or close to!).
Having a hot bath, making sure you are not scrolling through your phone in the evening, and having a relaxing routine are all things you can do to help you sleep better.
Stretching for a few minutes at work or home will increase blood circulation, prevent stiffness and give you more energy. It is why Yoga is a great hobby to take up.
‘Viparita Karani’ is a stress busting pose often called ‘Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose’. Lie on the floor with your legs up flat against the wall. It gives your heart rate a much needed rest, leaving you feeling calm and less stressed.
These are some quick and easy ways to destress that can be added to your daily routine to combat stress. Try some and see the difference.
Books to learn from:
Anxiety Free: Stop Worrying and Quieten Your Mind
Q: Which of these ways to destress do you think you will try first?
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