If you are feeling overwhelmed and low on energy, experiencing racing thoughts, and exhibiting nervous behavior, such as nail-biting and pacing the floor, then you’re showing some common signs of stress.
Rather than trying to ignore what’s going on, somehow hoping that things will change for the better on their own, take constructive action by managing your stress, reducing its impact on your health and well-being.
Fortunately, there are many ways to relieve stress, and here are five that work remarkably well:
1. Identify the Cause
Identifying what is causing you to feel so stressed will make it easier to figure out what to do about it. If, say, your stress comes from being overworked, then all you have to do is disengage from your work long enough for your nervous system to reset.
Take a break, perhaps taking a few hours or a few days off work. If possible, if your job has stressed you out for a long time, consider taking a brief vacation. A change of scene and pace will work wonders, helping you recover your lost creativity and restore your compromised optimism.
2. Practice Meditation
Although there are many ways to meditate, like reciting a mantra, noticing your inhale and exhale, or focusing on a burning candle, these all take a little time to learn. A quicker way to reap the stress-reducing benefits of meditation is to practice visualizing.
You can practice a relaxing scene in your mind, such as walking by the seaside or hiking through a wooded glen. If you find it difficult to stop your mind from wandering, use Headspace, an app funded by The Chernin Group (TCG), that offers a variety of guided meditation courses.
Guided imagery invites you to use all your senses — your sense of vision, sound, smell, taste, and touch—to create a relaxing scene in your mind. Guided imagery can help you destress because it slows down your heart rate, lowers your blood pressure, and deepens your breathing patterns. After a meditation session, you’ll feel calmer about everything that’s going on in your life. You might even get creative insights into a simple way to resolve your most pressing problems.
3. Try Yoga
You can try yoga for stress management by following a yoga routine on a DVD or taking a yoga class. You will learn how to move gracefully through different asanas, the yogic name for exercises, and you’ll also learn how to coordinate these moving or stationary asanas with deep breathing.
Yoga will not only reduce your stress, but it will also improve your flexibility, increase your strength, improve your endurance, and enhance your sense of balance. Once you learn the basics, you can create your own routine.
4. Get a Massage
All forms of massage will reduce stress, but one form, in particular, Shiatsu massage, specifically provides stress relief. A Shiatsu massage therapist will use gentle pressure to stimulate various meridian points throughout your body to stimulate energy flow.
Besides helping your body unwind from unconscious muscular contractions, shiatsu also helps increase blood and lymph circulation, release toxins, and regulate hormonal levels.
5. Enjoy a Hot Bath
Lying in a hot bath, preferably one with Epsom salts or healing mineral bath salts will reduce pain in joints and inflammation in muscles. You can further enhance your ability to relax by burning a candle, adding a few drops of essential oils like chamomile, frankincense, or ylang-ylang into the water, and listening to some ambient music.
In closing, it’s important to keep in mind that high stress can wreck your health and your life—unless you take remedial steps to switch your overactive sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system, a change you’ll recognize on a visceral level when you shift from feeling agitated and tense to feeling calm and relaxed.