Body has a “bouncing-back” quality of recovering from extremely stressful situations. But, if you remain under stress for prolonged periods, it wears down the fighting capacity of the body and the mind. To remain healthy, mentally and physically, it is important to take the necessary steps for stress relief and keep stress levels within manageable limits.
Adopt some relaxation techniques, like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, Yoga, etc., and learn to relax. Initially, you have to practice it for some time, but gradually, you can learn to remain relaxed even under stressful situations.
Meditation has been an integral part of Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Many people attach spiritual values to it, but you can also practice it as a secular stress relief exercise. The meditation is able to induce deep relaxation, and is very good for health in the long term.
You can try any of the methods of meditation and learn to manage your stress levels. You need not learn it from a teacher. You can learn meditation by reading a good book on the topic or listening to the CDs. It does take some practice, but the results that you will get are worth the efforts needed to learn it.
Exercise is good not only for your physical health but also for your mental health. It releases pent up frustrations, relaxes your muscles, releases ‘endorphins’ – the ‘feel good’ hormones, deceases stress hormones, and helps you sleep better. Make it a part of your everyday routine.
You can try physical exercises like Yoga, Tai Chi, or some repetitive activities like walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, etc. All of these activities activate relaxation response besides relaxing your muscles.
A massage session is very relaxing and has been proven to lower cortisol, the stress hormones. Massage reduces blood pressure, and helps you in getting a better sleep. Stress gives rise to headaches and various muscular pains. Massage relaxes muscles, and is helpful in easing muscular aches and pains. Massage releases endorphins which fills you with a feeling of well-being and confidence. The efficacy of massage can be judged from the fact it is known to be even more effective than social support from a partner.
Aromatherapy massage is even more effective. The massage is given using some essential oils which seep into the blood stream and help in calming down the brain, ease stress and in getting you a relaxing sleep.
5. Guided Imagery
It helps you in getting a respite from constant stress. With some practice you can help yourself reach a relaxed state whenever you feel rising levels of stress and tension. Guided imagery consists of imagining yourself in serene surroundings, where you feel calm and relaxed. Visualizing yourself in calm surroundings, imagining every small detail, can have a very soothing experience and can help in relaxing your frayed nerves.
Stress relief through music therapy is a universal phenomenon. However, you should choose the kind of music that is soothing for you, rather than going for the ‘prescribed ‘ ones. Each individual reacts differently to different sounds. The music that is calming to one might not be quite so for another.
Listening to soothing music induces deep breathing and increases the production of serotonin. Playing music in the background, even though you are busy in some other activity and are not aware of the music, also reduces stress levels.
7. Deep Breathing
Have you ever noticed how rapid and shallow your breathing becomes when you are under stress? In Eastern traditions, breath is called ‘prana’, ‘Qi’, or ‘the life force’. Learning to breathe deeply and properly has numerous health benefits besides reducing stress and tension in your daily life. Make this sure fire stress relief strategy a part of your daily routine and see how it helps you in maintaining a healthy body and a calm and clear mind.
The quality and depth of breathing has a great role to play in controlling stress levels and maintaining good physical health. Practicing a simple deep breathing exercise will help you in reducing stress levels and uplifting your spirits in a very short while.
8. Aroma Therapy
Many essential oils, or plant essences, are known for their stress relief qualities. Lavender is able to induce a feeling of calm and relaxation. Geranium brings down stress levels. You can make use of these aromatic oils for bringing down stress levels while you are going about your work, or better still when you are meditating.
The essential oils used in aromatherapy can be inhaled directly, added to the bath, massaged into the skin or used as a perfume to scent your room.
9. Self Hypnosis
You can make it a part of your stress management tool kit. Its power lies in positive auto-suggestion. It does not require any person other than you, and can induce deep states of relaxation. Do not confuse it with hypnosis, as it is used in hypnotizing other people, as you might have seen it in magic shows! On the contrary, it is very practical and do-able.
It reduces stress hormones and is very effective in reducing stress levels and controlling anxiety and depression. You can take the help of self-hypnosis to bring about positive changes in your life style.
Laughter is one of the most effective therapies for stress relief and bringing down levels of anxiety. If you see the effects of humor on our body, they are simply amazing. A good laugh decreases levels of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenal, causes endorphin levels to rise and strengthens our immune system. It increases the intake of oxygen, stimulates organs like heart and lungs, stimulates blood circulation and exercises stomach muscles. Laughter is also known to ease pain.
Humor has also some psychological benefits: it helps you in taking things light heartedly, breaking out of the stress producing thoughts, increasing your sense of satisfaction, and making your job more meaningful. It also helps you in relating to others around you.
Do you need more help?
Contact a community organization like the Canadian Mental Health Association to learn more about support and resources in your area.
Founded in 1918, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is the most established, most extensive community mental health organization in Canada. Through a presence in hundreds of neighbourhoods across every province, CMHA provides advocacy and resources that help to prevent mental health problems and illnesses, support recovery and resilience, and enable all Canadians to flourish and thrive.