Imagine the perfect day of relaxation, free of the myriad of day to day stressors and responsibilities. You are probably by a beach with a cocktail in one hand and a book in the other. While this sounds wonderful, does this type of relaxation really manage stress levels? More likely than not it won’t because this heavenly mind retreat only happens once or twice a week and it simply isn’t enough to unload all the accumulated personal and professional life stressors.
Instead, you should aim to create everyday routines you can tap into every time when life just gets a bit too much.
The importance of stress management.
Not all stress is bad. Sometimes stress can arise from positive life events such as a job promotion or finding out something you’ve been dreaming about for ages is finally happening. Our bodies are built to manage and thrive on low levels of stress, it’s one of the reasons why we as species have survived for millennia - the stress was helping our ancestors dealing with life-threatening situations. However, nowadays it’s not likely that you will ever be chased by a lion, so it’s important to notice your stress levels and not allow the accumulation of it.
In the case of stress, prevention is the best solution. We’ve compiled a list of techniques you can easily implement in your daily routine to relax your mind and keep those stress levels in check.
1. Practice mindfulness
Knowing what causes stress in your life can help you avoid or at least prepare for when these situations arise. Acknowledging how you feel in your present moment is the easiest way to notice those stressors before they become chronic.
2. Try meditation
An easy way to tap into being more mindful is to practice meditation. You don’t need to go to a fancy retreat or even a yoga class for this, just close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Then scan your body from head to toe and acknowledge how each part of you is feeling at the moment, without judging it. Or if you prefer, there are many applications and free videos that can assist and guide you.
3. Put things into perspective
Will this thing that is currently worrying you have any effect on your life in 5 years? Or even in 5 months? Most of the things you worry about never happen, so acknowledging how (un)important these concerns are is a powerful step to nip stress in the bud.
You are probably tired of reading this one advice in every single list related to physical and mental wellbeing. It is because moving your body really is that important! The good news is the actual movement doesn’t matter. You don’t have to do a sweaty HIIT session to reap the benefits, just take a brisk walk in the nearby park, go for a swim or enrol in a dance class. It’s much more important to enjoy what you are doing than the thing you are doing. If dread is involved, exercise is likely to contribute to stress instead of reducing it.
5. Treat yourself
You don’t need to book yourself a full spa day to reap the benefits of pampering. Why not make your own comfortable home a spa for a day? Take the time to indulge in it.
6. Try hypnotherapy
During hypnotherapy you are guided by a mental health professional who can help unlock your mind so you can begin exploring what is bothering you. Those issues can then be discussed in talk therapy to help you release them.
7. Massage yourself
Massaging your body with nourishing oils can encourage you to slow down and activate your parasympathetic nervous system which in term leads to decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
8. Spend time in nature
Spending time in nature has been found to help with stress and anxiety. A new research has found that as little as 10 minutes a day can have a tremendous impact on your physical and mental wellbeing, and overall happiness levels.
9. Journal your thoughts
Journalling is another way to tap into your thoughts and practice mindfulness. The real danger of stress is that it often gets unnoticed. Putting pen to paper can help you uncover the little or not so little things that are causing stress in your life. It can be incredibly powerful to release these thoughts.
10. Do morning pages
Morning pages is a ritual described in “The Artist Way” by Julia Cameron [https://juliacameronlive.com/basic-tools/morning-pages/]. It is “sub-genre” of journaling of sorts. The difference is that you do it first thing in the morning, with zero intention to ever read it again (you can even bin the pages after writing them). There is no wrong way to do morning pages. Just write anything and everything that crosses your mind for 3 pages. The purpose is to free up your mind of inner chatter and make space for creativity.