Need to de-stress? Here are 10 ideas to get you started
Stress seems to be a part of modern day life. We get it at work, school, home, in traffic… it seems endless. However, there are some simple things you can do to de-stress your body and mind.
Give them a go today!
Don’t let stress get out of control and affect your life. It will eat away at your relationships and your work if you let it. Recognize that you are in control of it and there are things you can do, yourself, to reduce your stress levels.
10 ways to de-stress your body and mind
Stress occurs in the body and in the mind. Some stresses are due to something we are (or aren’t) doing to our body and as such have an external solution. Other forms of stress are just in the mind and can be successfully treated using mental techniques. Here are 10 of the best ways to de-stress your distressed body and mind.
1. Listen to classical music
Okay, it doesn’t have to be classical if you really don’t like it but I have found that in some stressful situations (exams, work deadlines, etc.) putting some classical music in my iPod really helps me to cool down.
Many scientific studies have shown that the brain exhibts different behaviour when listening to classical music and one of those behaviours is that it causes the release of chemicals that make you feel better. These are the same ones that get released when you exercise.
Science has also shown that classical music can act as a cause to slow down your breathing and heart rate which can be very useful in certain situations.
I have been listening to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons for about two weeks now and cannot get enough of it. I really love the playful tunes of Spring and the agressive and energetic strings of Winter. You can get Vivaldi here.
2. Exercise more
It would seem pretty obvious to those of you who read this site regularly that exercise would be good for stress! But, many people will read this article after finding it on Google and for you I should point out that exercise is one of the best ways to de-stress your body and mind.
It works on a few levels: Firstly, you feel good when you exercise because at a chemical level your body likes to exercise. Endorphins get released after a weight training session or a jog and this leaves you feeling good. Secondly, we feel good mentally after exercise. My clients often tell me that after a gut-wrenching workout they are left feeling like that have achieved something and go home with renewed passion for their diet and healthy lifestyle. This is important.
3. Get rid of bad friends
There is a great buddhist master called Shantideva who said “Bad friends are like rotting fish and you are like a rose. Mix the rose with the fish and soon it will stink too!”
I find this quote to be very true and often notice the pain and anguish that people suffer because of so called “friends”. In my own life, for example, I see that many of my friends are quick to take from me but very slow to give anything back. I often find that stories I tell friends in confidence get told to other people and make their way back to me. This type of thing can be stressful.
It can go further too. If you find that friends are putting you in situation of pressure – parties, drinking, drugs… whatever, then maybe you need to get rid of them and find some new ones. Loyalty is important but if the people you are being loyal too aren’t really deserved of it then maybe you should re-think how much time you spend with them.
4. Cut out fatty foods
Fatty foods often you feeling heavy and depressed. They slow down your digestive system and make everything inside you a little bit off. I often find that if I cheat and get a fast food meal for lunch I am stressed soon after because I feel tired and sorry for myself and I start to think “how the heck am I going to get all my work done when I am so darn tired?”.
Like a good car you want to feed yourself quality fuel. This keeps your body and your mind running well. Stick to natural foods like fruits and vegetables as much as you can. You will feel better for it.
5. Stop putting it off
When I put things off I get stressed. Whether it is study, work, chores, doctors visits or something else it always seems bigger and scarier when I putt it off. If we sort out our problems early we can often avoid the mental activities that go along with that event.
For example, I hate getting injections. The very thought of them makes me quiver. I get stressed thinking about them and tend to put them off. However once I am at the doctor the needle goes in my arm and then back out and I hardly feel a thing! I just spent two weeks worrying about something so insignificant.
Another stressful event that women put off for a long time is their work situation. Many people are unhappy in their work and this leads to a very stressful state of mind. One needs to find a solution to this work problem which could be quitting, being re-assigned or learning to cope with it. Either way, a stressful job is not something that we should put up with and avoid fixing for too long.
Resolve to get stressful events out of the way as soon as you can.
6. Its all in your mind!
One of the best techniques I learned in India from the buddhist monks and yogis is that you need to realise that all the stress you experience is in YOUR own mind. It is not outside you. It is not coming from someone else. It is in you. And as such you can resolve it. You can choose to let it take over your life or you can recognise that it is just a few thoughts running around and let them go.
This point is especially important and can be used in conjunction with all the other points. The first thing you need to do when you feel stressed is look at your mind and say “oh yeah, just some stressed thoughts” and move on. Nothing serious there.
Meditation is a great way to become expert at watching your thoughts. This allows you to catch any stressful thoughts before they get out of control and observe them for what they are – just thoughts. Sit down for 10 minutes in the morning and just watch your thoughts come and go. You will find that after only a few days of doing this your stressful thoughts will have less of an impact on you.
7. Spa, stretch and massage often
Women often think of spas and massages as luxury treats but if you are a member of a gym you can get them pretty cheap. It is a great way to relax your mind and allow your body to have some much needed rest time. It can also aid in the healing of muscles and stressed joints. Likewise, stretching during the day can release tension in your muscles.
Reward a week of hard exercise or work with a massage or a spa. You don’t have to feel guilty about having 20 minutes away from whatever is so important in your life. You deserve it!
8. Sleep better
Sleep has got to be one of the number one reasons that people get stressed. Not enough sleep, not good enough sleep, not enough regular good sleep. The list goes on.
Sleep is very important to humans. It is the time when the body and the mind processes the events of the day and much healing takes place when you are deep asleep. For this reason it is important to make sure your sleep is not only long enough but good enough.
Here are some points to remember about sleep:
- 8 hours IS NOT a rule!
It really annoys me when people say you HAVE to have 8 hours of sleep. You don’t. Everyone is different. Some people can function fine off of 6 while others need 9. It has even been suggested that setting a fixed number like 8 is an obstacle to good sleep because if you don’t get it you tell yourself you haven’t slept long enough when in acutal fact you might be fine!
- Get a good pillow and bed
What you sleep on is very important. If you wake up with a headache or sore back you might need to swap your sleeping equipment!
- Get earplugs
If you have a snoring husband then some earplugs might be just what you need. They take some getting used to but once you have mastered them you will sleep better than ever.
- Not too hot
Don’t sleep with too many layers on. If you are too hot when you sleep you are likely to be agitated and not sleep as well as you could.
- NO coffee, wine or chocolate
This is the most important thing to remember. Doctors say that there are three things that upset your gut and cause you to have bad sleep – coffee, wine and chocolate. These things should not be eaten within two hours of sleep if you want to sleep well.
9. Get some lovin’
I bet you all read this and thought: “Alright – now that’s some de-stressing!”
When I say get some lovin’ I mean on many different levels. Being around a loved one is a great way to de-stress. You can be yourself, say what you want and not feel judged or on show. It is very relaxing. You can also do them same for them and this helps to de-stress too as being nice to people is an excellent way to feel better about yourself.
Lovin’ also refers to the stuff I know you are all wanting me to talk about. Sex that isn’t angry or agressive but is instead peaceful and loving has been shown to reduce stress levels and boost some immune function. While I am not reccomending everyone go out and get nasty if you have a loved one you feel open with and you need to de-stress then maybe a bit of a kiss and a cuddle would help.
10. Look at the bigger picture
When you feel trapped inside your own little situation it is very helpful to take a step back and change your perspective. One can very easily get caught up in the day-to-day activities we get so caught up in and forget that there is other stuff going on outside it.
When you look at a stressful situation from a different perspective you often see that it isn’t as bad as you first thought. You might be able to find a positive in an otherwise negative situation or you might simply find that you are stronger than you first thought. Either way, taking a step back to look at your own bigger picture and the bigger picture beyond that is a great way to calm down and de-stress.
Stress can really get a handle on you if you let it. The key is to realize that you are in control of your own mind and as such you can have a huge impact on how stressed you become. Starting out small with some of these tips is a great place to begin but you should always be aware of yourself as each person has different ways of de-stressing. Try to find some personal methods as they will be much more powerful.
Does anyone have any to add? Leave us a comment as it might really help someone or come and chat about it on our forum!