If you’re suffering from stress, you are definitely not alone. Feeling stressed is such a common problem, and seems to be getting even more common in recent years. In our constantly interconnected world, it is hard to switch off your mind and this can increase your feelings of stress and anxiety. We are going to take you through some techniques that can help keep you calm and promote relaxation.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to work up a sweat to get the benefits of exercise for reducing stress and anxiety. Even gentle exercise, such as yoga or pilates, can help to keep you calm and relaxed. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These chemicals interact with the receptors in your brain to reduce your pain and promote a feeling of euphoria. It will also make you feel tired and make it easier for you to sleep. All of these things together mean that taking part in regular exercise really can help to reduce your stress.
2) Spend time in nature
Spending time in nature can have a powerful effect on your body and mind in a variety of ways, all of which can help to reduce your stress and anxiety. If you’re walking or cycling you will, of course, also get the effects of exercise. But specifically being in nature can help to:
- boost your mood and promote feelings of happiness
- the scenery can capture your attention which can help to reduce rumination (thoughts running around and around in your head)
- can help to restore your mental abilities, such as memory and problem solving, by allowing your mind to take a break from focusing on all the things it usually has to focus on
- give you inspiration
- strengthen your positive relationships with other people
- give you a sense of awe and wonder and strengthen your connection to the wider world
Practicing meditation can do wonders for reducing your stress and anxiety. Even spending just a few minutes a day meditating can be enough to reduce your stress levels and promote relaxation. There are a few different techniques that you can use to practice meditation, and there are loads of resources out there that can help you to learn how to meditate in a way that works for you. Most techniques have some of the same basic elements, such as:
- focused attention – this can be on repeating a mantra, an image, or on your breath
- breathing – breathing should be slow and deep (not in the shoulders)
- thinking – letting thoughts pass through your mind without judging them
Mindfulness is a form of meditation, but it has become very popular lately because it seems to have health benefits all of its own. There has been a lot of scientific research into the benefits of mindfulness, which shows that it can reduce stress, lower your heart rate and blood pressure, help you sleep, and improve mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and OCD, among many other things.
Mindfulness involves being fully present in the moment and accepting it without any judgment. Techniques include:
- experiencing the environment with all of your senses – sight, smell, touch, sound
- breathing – focus your attention on your breathing going in and out
- body scan – lie still and focus your attention on each part of your body in turn, moving slowly from your head to your toes (and back)
You don’t just have to practice mindfulness while you are actively meditating. Mindfulness can be a part of how you live your life. Taking a mindful approach to everything that you do can help to improve your wellbeing and calm your mind.
5) Other relaxation tips
There are lots of ways that you can introduce calm and relaxation into your life, and reduce your stress. There are probably lots of elements in your life that you may not even realize are contributing to your stress levels.
- Switch off – constant notifications and too much screen time can add to your stress and anxiety. Muting your phone and putting your screen down for a portion of your day can help you to feel more relaxed.
- Limit your stimulants – caffeine and alcohol are both stimulants. Making sure that you don’t drink alcohol to excess and limiting your caffeine intake to the morning only can help to reduce your stress.
- Get creative – letting your creative juices flow can have many of the same benefits as being in nature, so find what you enjoy and give it a go.
Feeling stressed and anxious can be very unpleasant, especially if it goes on for a long period of time. Choosing a selection of relaxation techniques that fit into your lifestyle can really help to calm your mind and improve your wellbeing.