Despite being someone who guides others in wellness and aids in their relaxation, I get stressed out too. Talking to someone about reducing their stress after a night of insomnia from the overwhelming list of tasks that I didn't have time to do, makes me feel like a fraud. But I'm not. I'm someone who is capable of being just as caught up into the trap as everyone else. Chances are you've read 100 lists before on how to reduce stress and you already have a go to calm down activity. You just don't do it. It's easy to say to relax, but harder to actually let go of the stress. My list of 7 ways to reduce stress are easy enough to fit them into a few moments.
1) Give yourself permission to take time to do something to make a difference.
Recognize that stress is a normal part of life and it is okay to feel stressed. However, it is not a state you have to stay in. We have to actively make a choice and make the time. For women, this can be the hardest step. It's okay to put yourself first for a few minutes. It'll only help you and ultimately everyone around you too.
2) Do the activity you never get to do.
We all have that thing that we love to do, but never make time to do. It could be a visit to a museum, a visit with a friend we rarely see even though you live 2 blocks away, to sit and read, to run, to play hooky from all activities and go on an adventure with your kids, or a simple bath. Make a list of at least 5 of these things and put them down in the calendar, one for every week. Make that commitment to do something for you. It'll also give you something to look forward to that week. In Julie Cameron's The Artist's Way, she calls this The Artist Date.
3) Take 5 breaths.
When you are angry, it's suggested to count to 10 before you say anything. Taking five breaths through your nose will help to calm your nervous system. The best way to do this is to count the length of your inhale and have your exhale be longer. For example, the inhale is 5 and exhale is 8. Try doing this a few times a day.
4) Go outside.
I just spent the last three days outside hiking for about 6 hours a day and it feels like such a luxury to be in nature. I could feel my cells physically rejoice in the fresh air and sun. Even if you have two minutes, leave your office or house and go outside. Any area will do, but a place with a tree is best. Feel free to hug it.
5) Move your body (or have someone else do it).
Go for a walk, a workout, or a massage. (Preferably outside.) If you're in your office, just stand up and shake your body. Maybe jump up and down, swing your arms. Instead of sending an email to a colleague, stop by their office. Get your assistant coffee. Don't have time for a full massage, use the Coregeous® and Yoga Tune Up® balls for self-massage, especially the abdomen, chest, upper back and shoulders. I use mine in the car to help me sit up straighter and massage out my upper back, but be careful to pay attention to the road!
6) Give and receive a hug.
Remember how as a child, being held made everything better? It still rings true. Hugging releases oxycontin and seratonin to reduce your blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol levels. Find someone near and dear to you and hold them. Allow them to hold you, after all a hug is a two way street.
7) Recognize what gives you the most stress.
The number two factor to reduce your stress is to try to catch it before it begins. Try to notice when you are feeling wound up and figure out what happened just before. Maybe you can delegate the task to someone else, or find a way to minimize how much you have to do that task.
Sometimes we have to let go of whatever it is by leaving the job, making a choice to have have a person in your life anymore, or whatever it may be. I've left jobs when they got to a point were longer serving me. I've left negative people in my past.
At the same time, we can't cut out the activity or person. Your Mom is still your Mother no matter how high she sends your blood pressure. But you can make sure to give yourself 5-10 minutes after you talk to her to let yourself recover or make the call before you go on your favorite activity. Even just taking a moment before calling her and say to yourself, "I love her, no matter how she makes me feel," can change your mindset before. Then repeat it afterwards as well. This can be true of any person or activity. The focus of the why or positive aspect helps to make a switch in how your perceive the person or activity.
Stress will always be there and how we respond is really key. Overall, we get to make choices every day that affect how we live our lives. The more we can feel happy and free, the more we can truly find bliss.
You can learn how stress affects your organs and body in our article How Does Stress Affect Us?
Kate Hamm combines her 15+ years of experience in the fitness industry and high-end resort program development into sought after wellness adventures at AnamBliss. Visit www.anambliss.com for future retreat dates and locations.