Friday, November 25, 2005

10 Easy Activities to Reduce Stress

Stress happens to all of us. It sneaks up when we least expect it, disguising itself as tense muscles, headaches, agitation and quick temperedness. The good news however, is that there are 10 easy activities that you can do that will reduce your stress. Make a mental note of these, or even list them on post-it notes to hang up in conspicuous place as reminders.

  1. Stop. Whatever activity you are engaged in, stop and quiet your mind.
  2. Breathe. Focus your attention on your breath, slowing it to a regular pattern.
  3. Allow. Allow your muscles a moment to relax as you focus on your breath. As you inhale, consciously breathe into the stress in the muscles and relaxing them as you exhale. Take deep breaths and release.
  4. Listen. Quiet your mind by listening to your breath as you inhale and exhale. Listen to your body telling you that stress is taking place.
  5. Rest. Give yourself permission to rest your body and your mind. Many times our stress is from mental fatigue, not just physical tiredness. Take a 10 minute power nap if you have the opportunity, or simply close your eyes and repeat the phrase over and over in your mind, “I am quiet, peaceful and relaxed. It is safe for me to rest now.”
  6. Exercise. Go for a walk, a jog or a swim. Exercising releases endorphins in your brain which will preoccupy your mind. This is a wonderful way to physically release built up tensions that have been held in your physical body.
  7. Be present in the now moment. When you recycle the same thoughts, keep a mental ‘to do’ list, or worry about something that is already over, then your mind is elsewhere. You are not fully present in the moment, and neither is your mind. Being focused elsewhere or living in the past and ruminating can be extremely tiring and stressful. Consistently recall yourself back to the present moment.
  8. Call a friend. Talking can be a great stress reliever. The simple action of being heard by someone who cares about you can make everything feel better. You’ve released the tension and you’ve been heard. You’ll find that your body automatically begins to relax and release the tensions. You may yawn often during the conversation. Yawning is a form of releasing physical tension as well as the body’s way of taking in more oxygen to nourish the tense muscles.
  9. Have a massage. Physical touch releases tensions and stress from the physical body as well as relaxing your thoughts and emotions. You may want to schedule ongoing massage therapy sessions as part of your regular routine. People that receive massage on a regular basis experience less stress because they aren’t storing the tensions for long periods of time without relief.
  10. Seek counseling. Asking for assistance, either through traditional or intuitive/spiritual counseling is not a signal of weakness. In fact it’s the opposite. It is a show of strength from within to ask for help. It reflects your willingness to deal with your stress and manage your life in a new, healthy way. A counselor can help you maintain a healthy balance during times of stress, extreme tension, difficulty or transition.

Above all, remember that you are doing your best to reduce the stress in your life. You have the inherent right to be happy, healthy and thriving. Stress does not need to be an assumed part of your lifestyle. You can choose to ignore stress and live with it, or to take action and do something about it. It’s up to you. Give yourself the gift of relaxation. You deserve it!

© 2005 Jodie Foster

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