De-Stress Tools


Stress is running rampant worldwide. It is one of the main causes of illness, sickness and disease. In America, it is estimated that 1 in 5 Americans experience ‘extreme stress’ and that 3 out of 4 doctors visits concern stress-related ailments (statistics according to www.stress.org.)

With stress sabotaging everything from our relationships to our careers, finding ways to regularly relax has never been more vital.

For the classic type A personality, relax might seem like a dirty word. Here are a few techniques that you can use to help calm you. Not every technique will work for every person but you may find a solution that suits you.

What kind of ‘relaxer’ are you?

Some people relax by ‘not doing.’ This is your typical relaxer, an individual who likes to nap, rest and switch off. These relaxers find it easy to go onto auto pilot and get into the relax zone. In fact, it can be hard to get them out of it!

The second type of relaxer relaxes by doing. They might find cleaning therapeutic or run to de-stress. You might find that you are a combination of the two. Which style of relaxing you identify with will impact the activities that you should use to unwind.

Keep a diary

Writing a diary is cathartic. It’s also a useful way of recording what triggers your stress and why. For instance, do you find it hard to cope around your monthly cycle? Does a lack of sleep effect your mental well-being? Are you happier on the weekends? It gives clues as to what makes us stressed and can help us figure out what to do about it.

Sometimes just being able to write something down and see words on a page is immensely helpful but it also gives us a few into how we work which is invaluable when it comes to seeking help.

Eat well

Whenever someone is struggling, a diet overhaul is often needed. Most people, in times of stress either over eat to find comfort, avoidance and solace or under eat due to anxiety or to feel a sense of control. Both can play havoc with blood sugar levels which directly influences mood.

If you’re stressed avoid stimulants such as caffeine. Slash or remove entirely (your choice) how much coffee, alcohol, chocolate, sweets and sugar you imbibe. Stimulants can trigger a stress response.

Eat more leafy and colorful greens, fish, lean meat, nuts, fruits, whole grains and pulses. Keep your diet varied and balanced. Ensure that you eat a few vegetarian and vegan meals a week and as much as possible, home prepare your meals. Get savvy when it comes to reading labels. Remember that anything ending in -ose contains sugar. Keep up your intake of water. Natural teas can be included too.

Limit access to technology

Technology has revolutionised the way we live but taken to an extreme, it triggers anxiety, panic, depression and feelings of isolation and competitiveness.

Don’t reach for your phone, laptop or tablet in the morning until you have eaten, are dressed and up and out. Try not to use technology around bedtime. This will stimulate your brain and keep you awake which can cause insomnia and broken sleep patterns.

Use technology wisely. Hide or unfollow friends who make you feel bad on social media. Disable comments. Block sites that have a bad impact on you mentally or emotionally. Visit sites that help you grow or that focus on subjects you are interested in. Have regular technological breaks so that you can re-balance and regroup.

Move

Exercise releases feel good chemicals in our bodies and minds which are immensely soothing. The problem is that most of us don’t move enough so we don’t get to enjoy the body’s natural pharmacy.

Yoga is a gentle, spiritual exercise that helps sooth and ease tired muscles and minds. Kundalini yoga focuses on the breath whereas Ashtanga focuses on sequences of movement.

Pilates is useful for muscle conditioning and even a 30-minute walk or run is very effective. You can find absolutely any sport, exercise or activity that appeals to you. The choices are endless. The more you move, the more your body will want to move.

Gratitude List

When you are stressed, it can be hard to feel grateful. By shifting our focus to gratitude we can over time change the way we think.

If you hate your job, by all means, look for a new job but in the meantime, focus on things that you do like and that you do appreciate, however small. This helps the search become bearable and helps you to find pleasurable moments in the now.

Meditation

Meditation is the practice of quietly sitting and mastering our thoughts. For the more active relaxer, meditation might not be ideal but can be aided with guided meditation or music.

Chanting

Group chanting sessions are a great way to create a visceral group energy that will set you up for the rest of the day. Morning chants are a great pre-work preparation but afternoon sessions can ground you before you get home.

Socialise

Active relaxers and extroverts will find socialising relaxing whereas introverts and passive relaxers may find it even more stressful!

Being around people whom we like, love and support can be tremendously relaxing and calming.

Sacred Movement

Imagine a room full of strangers. You close your eyes. Music plays. You move, unselfconsciously. You open your eyes. Before you know it, you’re moving like a child, feeling free and totally liberated. This is the premise of sacred movement and it is healing.

Take time for naps

Children and animals nap all of the time. Perhaps they know something about life that we’ve lost. Making time for a nap can help smooth and calm a stressed mind.

Read a book / watch a movie

Get lost in a book or a fantasy world. When we read or watch a film, we can easily enter a state of flow where we lose track of time.

Craft

Active relaxers may enjoy creative crafting as a way to keep the mind focused and the body engaged.

Massage

Stress builds in the body and impacts our posture. A massage can help untie those pesky knots.

Therapy

If your stress is chronic, therapy sessions such as cognitive behavioural therapy may help you find long lasting solutions to combating stress.

Remember stress can have many sources including work, family, relationships, finances, mental health concerns and general health. Locating your triggers is a great first way to take steps to help manage and even remove stress.