There are times that we are just flat out stressed. There are family duties, work duties, and other random problems that just want to heap upon us so that we just start to have a hard time concentrating. That stress we feel can create moments of higher than normal anxiety and the different health problems that the increasing levels of cortisol supply from high blood pressure, to lack sleep, upset stomach and lowered immune systems. Stress isn’t good for us when we are in a constant state. From time to time, it’s good to be in but day in and day out you have to find a way to relieve that stress.
So, to get yourself into a calmer state it is good to find different ways to reduce your stress. There are many different ways to calm down and to find a state of relaxation, or at least feel calmer than what may seem like the norm.
There is nothing like adding oxygen and increased blood flow to wash out those stress hormones. Exercise in any form allows helps you not only get you into better shape helping your capillaries to expand so that blood gets to all the nooks and crannies of your body, but it also forces your mind to focus on an entirely different topic than the thoughts that are causing the stress.
Exercise also produces many of the different feel-good neurotransmitters like endorphins. While the repetitive action of walking, running or lifting weights allows your mind to enter a relaxed state much like meditation.
It counteracts the effects of stress such as weight gain, it lowers blood pressure, and as mentioned, improves blood flow. Then getting outdoors and taking in the fresh air adds to the effect of exercise. Therefore, you can compound the effects by getting outside and walking at least.
Write Your Stress Away
Writing is great for relaxing. It does several things that help take your mind off what stress-inducing problem is plaguing your mind. People have used different tools with writing to find stress relief. Such as doing a thought download, or free writing if you are having a problem starting your pen.
This exercise is where you can either set a timer or just getting all out on paper. What you do is you just write down everything you are thinking about. It doesn’t matter if you think the thought isn’t important, write it down. Why aren’t there any purple kittens? Write it down. Can a paper airplane fly upside down? Write it down. Why do we park on driveways? Write it down. You get the drift. Write all your thoughts down on paper and when your time is up or you have exhausted all your thoughts you can then look at that list of thoughts and see what is bothering you. You can then decide what is needed and important for you to focus on and what is extra fluff, which is just taking up space in your head.
This exercise is where you just start writing doesn’t even have to make any sense. Just start writing words and as you write your mind will start putting words onto your paper. This helps because you don’t have to think about anything. Freewriting works better if you can clear your mind. Each thought will come out as it is created. You do this until you feel you have a good idea of what could be bothering you.
So how does writing help you ease stress? The biggest reason is the repetitive pattern of writing. It allows the brain to just flow. Your mind loves to be as efficient as possible and much of our stress comes when our brain has to start using more energy because it has to process something new. Do you even notice how you feel when you write with your other hand? Your brain isn’t used to that extra work it has to put in to do something it does with our effort when using your dominant hand.
Writing allows your mind to draw out those random thoughts that are gumming up the system. The practice of journaling is a great example of this. You can write out all that happened on that day and your brain can process those thoughts better and more efficiently.
Writing your thoughts out on paper also allows your mind to see the thoughts that are rattling around in your head. An effect happens when you see the words and thoughts written down physically through your hand. This is better with pen and paper but you can also type it out. I recommend to my clients to use the pen and paper method because your mind has a stronger connection to your handwriting instead of the sterile text of type.
Because you get all the extra unimportant thoughts out of your head, you are also able to improve the cognitive functions of your brain. Your brain can be bogged down with random and extemporaneous thoughts. Therefore, if you clean house you free up the gunk in your mind and your brain can process thoughts better and faster. This helps with reducing the stress of not being able to think of the right slogan for your client.
One last benefit of writing is that you work the fine joints, muscles, and tendons of your hands this helps to relieve and even possibly hold back arthritis.
Spend time with friends and family
This does two things one it gets you out of the house or out of the office. Your friends are one of the best tools you have for life in general. There are many health benefits to having good friends. I don’t mean one good friend, I mean to have several good friends. Having friends and the human connection is amazing for helping you live longer. Friends are great for distractions, especially those friends that keep you on your toes. We all have that one friend who shows up throws a backpack at you, and says we are going to climb a mountain.
Friends can also help change the pace of your life. If it is fast and out of control, you and a good friend can pack up and go on a weekend camping trip. They can distract you with incredible conversations that help make you a better person. They also are great for a healthy laugh. I will get more into it in the next section but laughing is one of the healthiest stress relievers you can experience.
Finally, friends help you not feel as though you are alone. They can listen to your issue and offer tips and advice on what they might do in your situation. They can help support you when you are struggling. This is one of the best reasons that a good friend will often crack an ill-timed joke just so your stop your downward spiral and shift gears. Take time to relax with a good friend.
Laugh at your Stress
As mentioned in the previous section laughter is a natural stress reducer. It provides a full-body exercise for your internal organs. The act of laughing actually will ramp up your stress responses and then release it gently. It could be viewed as an internal stretch. This action helps slow down your heart rate and floods your body with dopamine. So Laugh because it truly is the best medicine.
Mindful Meditation to Relieve Stress
Some people may be a bit put off but this next strategy for easing stress but doing mediation. There are many different reasons this is helpful, especially when that meditation is mindful meditation.
First off, when you are using mindful meditation it forces you to control your thoughts. If you are just starting you may get frustrated at all the times your brain goes off and start creating one of the 60,000 different thoughts most people have each day. Mindfulness makes you focus on your breathing and if you find yourself straying off you are to gently redirect your thoughts to your breathing. As you keep this up you will develop the skill of being able to be better at focusing on one topic and allowing that through to be fully realized.
One of the steps you take when you are practicing mindful mediations is that you relax your muscles. There are several different ways you can do this but the results are the same. Your muscles start to ease and you enter into a state of relaxation. You also focus on your breathing. When you are stressed, your breathing is more rapid and from the top part of your lungs instead of from the bottom and getting full diaphragm breaths. Your breathing of forced to slow down this tells your body that you are not in a state of danger and that the fight or flight instinct can stand down.
If you are in a place that you can’t take 15 minutes to do a meditation session the just stop and take a series of deep slow breathes these alone should help ease and tell your central nervous system that there is no danger.
Listen to Music
We all love music, even those of us who listen to podcasts like to listen to music. Music stirs up emotions that can at least distract us from the stressful thoughts of our day. The interesting part of listening to music is that each song affects us differently. However, many experts say that slow classical leaning music does best to help us relax. You may be more of an RnB music listener. You can find a good set of songs that can put you in a more relaxed mindset so that you can release the tension you are experiencing.
Make a gratitude list
This harkens back to the whole writing to relax section but I wanted to dive a little deeper on this topic. Stress and anxiety is a very unpleasant emotion. Your muscles are tight and your stomach may be upset. Yet that is a hard state of mind to be in when you are in a grateful mindset.
I often use this in my morning ritual. Where I list out three things, I am grateful for. It may be the good service I received from the water I had last night to thank for my wife and the support she provides. If you start each day with a list of grateful thoughts, you will be able to stay more relaxed and have a better abundant mindset as the day goes on.
This one stress reliever surprised me. I didn’t know that chewing gum could help relieve stress. It appears, there have been many studies done that show that chewing gum increases blood flow and can help with your concentration and cognitive abilities. It has been used by the US Army to help with soldiers and their stressful environment. Everybody does state that it is better if you use sugar-free gum not only for the cavities abut to help fight cavities.
Get a Hobby
Many times for us men to relax it is good for us to do a good 5 by 5 or in other words take a break from the thoughts and environment that is causing us stress. One classic way to do this is to get a hobby. Hobbies allow you to grow in knowledge and shift your mind to a lower gear. This is because you are doing something that you find great interest and passion in. Hobbies are good for distracting you from your problem and letting your mind work on a different task. The changeup is often good and allows your brain to refresh itself.
Stretch that Stress out
You ever watch a dog stretch. Isn’t that one of the best stretches ever? Stretching allows your muscles to tense up and get overly tense so that they burn up some of that extra energy. Then to just let that tension go allows more blood to flow into those muscles so that it can help repair them.
A good way to stretch is to do yoga. Now I am no yoga master in any way but I have seen some folks work on their yoga and it is easy to see that yoga is a combination of deep breathing stretching and exercise. So you can get a compounded effect of practicing yoga. Though I don’t know if I would look, too go in those pants.
So yeah, you are going to have stressful situations throughout your life. However, you can mitigate the effects of stress. You can choose to not allow stress to rule your life and you can have full control of how much stress you experience. If you do have stress, you also find out that you can get through it with the help of writing, friends, and family, and even chewing on a stick of gum. So as you take on your day. Relax it will be great.