Sure, you’ve read a list of stress management tips before, so what makes this list any better? Well, if you’ve read this far, then maybe you still have some stress in your life and another little tweak or two might be just the thing to help you relax. So take a deep breath and have a light, refreshing read. Hopefully we can help!
1. Talk straight, think straight. Obviously you’ve been told to think ‘the glass is half full’, and that’s all well and good, but when do you draw the line between what’s just negative thinking and what’s reality? I mean really, we can’t just all walk around with smiles on our faces, can we? (Okay, maybe we can, but that’s not the suggestion here.) Try a week of monitoring what you say, because it’s really the language you use that feeds in on how you feel. If someone says to you “Boy, this weather is the pits, huh?” You don’t have to disagree to be positive – you can simply say “Yes, I suppose it is. Hopefully it will feel more enjoyable soon.” Saying “feel more enjoyable” automatically puts that thought into your subconscious and gets you on the track to imagining a more enjoyable time.
2. Make a list. Or ten lists, for that matter. Make as many lists as it takes to get yourself organized because one of the most stressful things in life is that feeling of being overwhelmed, and you can minimize or even eliminate that feeling by taking 30 to 60 minutes once a week and making or editing a list, or lists. And with all of the great list-making apps out there today, you can even get one that syncs directly back and forth from your phone and your computer, so that you can have your list(s) with you all the time for reference.
3. Tune in to some tunes. Listening to music can really help you de-stress, which is no wonder that we hear it in all the stores and offices we enter everyday. They want you to relax and thus be a better customer! So be a better customer in your own store/mind, and put on some music when you have a chance – either some headphones at your desk or in the car, or even while you get ready in the morning. And you don’t have to choose classical to feel relaxed; anything with a beat that might get you dancing is great too. Check out some of the amazing, free internet radio stations out there that offer continuous, 24-hour-a-day music. You’ll be surprised at the variety you can find!
4. Get spiritual. Sounds like I’m asking you to light one up and put on some Bob Marley (see step 3), but it doesn’t have to be such a stretch to connect with something bigger than yourself. If going to some sort of organized religious gathering isn’t your thing (or if it is but you’re still stressed), try connecting in a different way. Sometimes getting in touch with your artistic side helps, so draw some pictures or get creative in a way that speaks to you. Or just go out into nature and take a closer look at some trees, plants and flowers. Literally stop and smell the roses? Yes, literally.
5. Self-massage. Sure, using up your benefits for massage therapy, acupuncture and so on is ideal, but it’s not easy to find the time to get into a clinic every day (unless you’re super-lucky, like a movie star!), but you can help yourself out with just a few minutes at your desk once or twice a day. Simply take a minute and massage the muscle between your thumb and index finger, using enough pressure that you feel a slight ache, but not so much pressure that you’re causing undue stress on the hand doing the squeezing. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, this point is called ‘Junction Valley’, and is used to open up channels throughout your body. Thus it’s very beneficial for relieving pain and helping to calm you. It’s also great for stress in your facial muscles, and can even help open your nasal passages and help you breathe better (which brings us to step 6).
6. Breathe better! Simply stop whatever you’re doing and take a deep breath, letting go of all your thoughts and just focus on your breath in, and then out. Now make a simple plan for how to get through the next hour or two with a straight head. Good job! Now, if you want to make sure that your body is getting proper breath the rest of the time, you may want to consider doing some regular breathing practice like limbic breathing. This beneficial breathing practice (also called ‘feather breathing’) can be taught by some well-rounded naturopathic doctors, and is excellent for both reducing stress and can even help with other complaints too. Such surprising complaints include: acid reflux, immune system deficiency, high blood pressure, and insomnia, and is good for people of all ages.
7. Call Uncle Bert. Or whoever it is in your life that you care deeply about, and can usually give you the same unconditional love right back. Spending time with the people we love and can talk to about what is causing us stress can really lower those stress hormone levels and help us deal better with life’s worries. Make sure you take time regularly, and if Uncle Bert is just too busy, consider booking regular time with a trained psychotherapist. You don’t have to have a serious issue to just sit down with a professional listener. Sometimes a trained ear is a great ear to have!