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Let’s face it – life is stressful. Things can be going well one minute and fall apart the next. You’ve been working your little heart out for a certain promotion and someone else nabs it first. Bills are due, health has taken a turn for the worst, or your in-laws drop in without warning. Stress can knock out the joy in life – IF you let it! It may not be enough to simply cut back on obligations. Sometimes you need to take some time for yourself and allow your mind, spirit, and body to recharge. You may need to be intentional about taking the time to relax. Here are 10 simple ways to do just that. The best part? Most of them are free!
10 Simple Ways To Unwind & Relax
1. Deep Breathing
Most of us live with our sympathetic nervous system, aka “fight or flight”, on a constant state of high alert. Stressors, like bills, jobs, mortgages, or someone cutting you off in traffic, activate this fight or flight response. Your blood pressure goes through the roof, and you basically stress yourself out. Deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the “rest and digest” system. This is the one that triggers your body to bring down your heart rate and blood pressure. It calms you down.
To do this correctly, you want to deep breath from your diaphragm. Instead of your chest rising and falling, breathing from your diaphragm feels like filling your belly with air. Watch this video to learn more!
When you’re stressed out, you may notice that your neck begins to ache, your lower back feels like it’s ready to give out, and your entire body feels like one giant Charlie Horse. Soaking in a tub with hot water and epsom salts can release the muscle stress and help you relax, especially before you head to bed. I absolutely LOVE this Pink Himalayan Mineral Soak from Dr. Teal’s. The scent of bergamot and sweet orange essential oils make soaking feel more like a spa experience, and the epsom and Himalayan salts sooth tired and aching muscles.
Hit the gym after work or go for a walk during your lunch break. Yoga is an excellent form of exercise that focuses on deep breathing. It doesn’t have to be a full-on, weightlifting, sweating-like-a-sinner-in-church type of workout. Just getting your heart rate up and the blood flowing can help ease anxiety and tension. It can clear your mind, help you think, and get rid of the nervous jitters so you can go home and properly relax for the evening.
4. Walk Away
When you start to get frustrated with someone or something, the best thing you can do in that moment is walk away. For five minutes. Maybe 10, depending on how frustrated and angry you’ve become. This serves two purposes:
First, you can take a moment to regain your composure and regroup your thoughts. It’ll help give your eyes or ears a break so you can refocus and look at the problem or person with a fresh perspective.
Second, it’ll help you, especially if you’re dealing with a difficult person, to refrain from saying something you may seriously regret. And we could all use more of that, couldn’t we?
5. Declutter & Organize
Have you ever lost your car keys? Can’t find an important piece of paperwork? Shred something by mistake?! Because I have, and nothing will send my blood pressure skyrocketing like knowing I have to leave for work in five minutes and I can’t find my keys anywhere! Clearing “hot spots”, areas in the home that tend to accumulate the most clutter, will help you have less places to search. Get into the habit of placing things in certain locations – give your purse a “home”, and you’ll always be able to find it when you need it, considerably reducing your stress levels.
Don’t believe in the benefits of prayer or meditation? Check out this article by the Huffington Post. Prayer and meditation can help you reset and refocus, not just spiritually, but mentally and physically as well. Reports suggest that prayer and meditation lower blood pressure, reduce stress and anxiety, and can even help one recover faster from illness, injury, or surgery. A person who employs one of these practices seems to be able to handle life in a more productive and positive manner.
7. Hit The Road
If facing the responsibilities of your day leaves you wanting to run for the hills, then go for it! Take a break and get out of town. Go for a week-end road trip, or take a few days off for a real vacation. Whether you enjoy laying on a beach with a margarita or hiking through the mountains, go somewhere, shut off your electronics, and RELAX!
8. Get Some Shut Eye
Sleep is probably one of the most important ways our body recharges and heals. I can’t believe the way my body benefited from sleep after I had my chemo and cancer surgeries. It’s the miracle drug that no one really thinks about, and it’s one thing that stress steals from everybody! If you’re laying awake thinking of everything you have to do, how you’re going to face a dreaded coworker, what the doctor’s results will be, or all the errands you have to run, chances are you’re not getting enough sleep.
If you need a sleep aid, you can try Valerian Root, Liquid Melatonin, or Vicks ZzzQuil. They’re non-habit forming, and I’ve used all of them during my cancer treatments to help me sleep (chemo keeps you awake…so do thoughts of cancer 😊). I would rotate through them so my body didn’t get use to one in particular, and I had great success, using them only when I felt I needed a little extra help falling asleep.
9. Stop Procrastinating
Sometimes our stress is a curse of our own making. I’m preaching to the choir on this one. I seem to produce my best work under pressure, anyone else? However, that also means ADDED STRESS! Stress I could have avoided if I had been more intentional with my time and not left everything until the last minute. I’m using a variety of methods now to help me stay on topic and get things done in a timely manner. Planners, organizers, “Regularly” app on my phone…I even set alarms on my Google calendar, and give myself a time padding to complete a project. For example, if something is due the following Monday, I’ll give myself until Thursday to get it completely done. That way, if a problem arises, I have a day or two extra to fix it. I can relax, knowing the bulk of a project is already complete and all it needs is some tweaking.
There’s something to be said for some self-indulgence every once in a while. A massage, camping, a spa day, or a day fishing – whatever makes you happy! Taking time for yourself isn’t selfish – it’s good self-care. You can’t give 100% to anything, person, work, or project, if you’re running on empty from the beginning. Take the time you need to relax and recharge, do something that makes you happy, and you’ll be ready to tackle whatever comes your way!
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