Contributed by Info Guru Lindsay Shugerman
We live in a stressful world. From economic pressures to political issues to the ever present struggle to balance our career and private lives, it’s no wonder you’re looking for some effective, simple ways to relax.
Here are ten of my favorite ways to turn down the stress levels, chill or just recover from everything the world is throwing at us.
No, I don’t mean that shallow, rapid stuff most of us do day in and day out. That kind of breathing might keep you alive, but it won’t reduce your stress. One of the keys to relaxation is slow, deep, conscious breathing.
Breathe in slowly, fully for a count of eight. Hold it for a count of four, then breathe out for another count of eight. Wait for two counts, then repeat.
9. Get moving
It may sound counter-intuitive, but it true. Getting active, whether it’s a walk in the city or a bike ride in the country (or just some time at the gym) actually reduces stress hormone levels and helps you relax. Pick your favorite activity, or try out some new ones. As long as you’re moving, it’s good.
8. Pick up a book
Books can take you far from your daily life, so it’s no wonder that it’s many people’s favorite ways to relax. Look for a story that inspires or transports you to a different place and time. And opt for a real printed book, too. Studies show that reading on a tablet or computer actually interferes with relaxation.
7. Take a nap
Taking a siesta mid-day has gotten a bad rap. Popular culture sees adult nappers as lazy or self-indulgent. But the reality is that taking a relaxing nap every day actually improves productivity and accuracy.
Keep your naps to 30 minutes or less for maximum relaxation and the best results in the afternoon at work. Longer naps can make you groggy or interfere with nighttime rest. Naps shorter than 20 minutes long might not be effective.
It’s hard to relax when it feels like everything on your to-do list has to be done right now. But something as simple as prioritizing your tasks by urgency can help you relax and see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Try using a simple planner to chart your tasks, and the steps you need to do to reach your goals. Seeing big chores broken down into small, do-able pieces can reduce stress almost immediately.
5. Light a candle
There’s just something about candlelight. It’s soothing, in a way electric light can never be.
When life is leaving you tense and uptight, try lighting a candle or two. Turn down the regular lights, and just watch the flickering flame. It’s a simple way to decompress from a stress-filled world.
4. Play with a pet
Spending some time with your furry friends is another simple but effective way to relax. Try tossing a toy for a pup to fetch, or just cuddle up on the couch with your dog or cat. Studies show that the act of stroking a pet reduces blood pressure and slows the release of stress hormones.
3. Call a friend
I love spending time with a friend or two over tea or dinner. It seems that no matter how rough my day has been, sharing some conversation and laughs with a trusted friend leaves me relaxed and happy.
If your best friend is too far away for a get-together, a phone call or video chat is the next best thing. Just connecting with someone who knows you so well can make all the difference in the world.
2. Get out into nature
Just heading outdoors might be all you need to relax. Researchers are finding that time spent in nature reduces the chemical and psychological aspects of stress, and allows people to relax more effectively.
Best of all, almost any kind of activity in nature seems to help. That means you can head for a nearby nature trail or just spend a couple of hours puttering in your garden, and still reap the same relaxation benefits.
1. Learn from the professionals
If the simple techniques for relaxation aren’t working well enough for you, it might be time to seek out the help of mindfulness professionals. Look for workshops on meditation, relaxation or loving-kindness practice to learn how to overcome the barriers to true relaxation and contentment.
No matter what is stressing you, remember there are so many wonderful ways to relax and see things in a new light. Try a few in your life, and watch the tension melt away.