Isn't this what we tell ourselves every day? I know I do and I always tell myself that I will start relaxing "tomorrow." The problem is tomorrow never comes. We are constantly presented with new and immediate tasks that continue to keep us from carving out those special moments to really unwind with some meditation, yoga, running, or anything that allows our minds a chance to quiet itself. What I have found with myself and clients, is that as our stress builds up over time it becomes overwhelming and difficult to manage in the moment. By being creative with our time and using some simple stress-reducing techniques we are able to keep our bodies from becoming flooded and minds free from unnecessary stress.
The follow list has 5 Quick Ways to help your body and mind relax throughout the day:
Deep Breathing: Most of us have heard this one and brush it off, but it is the best way to lower your stress in the moment. I recommend a 4/7/8 approach. Here you breath in to the count of 4, hold your breath to the count of 7, and breathe out (deeply) to the count of 8.
Visualization: Think about a relaxing scene or place you have either visited (like your home or a favorite vacation destination), or a place that your have always dreamed of going. Picture yourself there. Go through the five senses and attribute these to your chosen place. What do you see, taste, smell, feel, and hear? Do this regularly to make it quicker and easier to recall in the moment.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation: This is a great trick to do at your desk. Starting with your toes and feet, stretch your legs all the way out so they are off the ground and tighten your toes to the count of 2 then release. Do the same for your feet, your legs, your thighs, and so forth working your way up the body. Make sure to do your arms, fingers, and shoulders, holding each to the count of 2 and releasing. Continue up your neck, face, eyes, mouth, etc. You can find a great 7-minute video here.
Stretching: Remember way back in elementary school when you were tested on those silly arm and leg stretches for the P.E. assessments? Well, thank goodness they are actually paying off now! Yes, simple arm and leg stretches combined with some deep breaths can help release tension and trick your boding into feeling some of the benefits of yoga. Stretch your arms behind your head, across your chest, out your sides, etc. Stretch your neck and back as you can while sitting in your chair.
Walking: If you are able to get up and go for a walk, this is great! It clears your mind and gets your body moving. While walking try to stretch your arms and legs, remember to practice 4/7/8 breathing and practice using your 5 senses as you take in your surroundings. Even if you are walking the stairwell at the office or up and down a hall use your senses to bring your mind into the here-and-now. This will work to relax both your mind and body, and helps to regulate your breathing.
Remember to practice these before you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed with stress. Know your limits and practice keeping your body well below it's boiling point. It is recommended that we do little things frequently as we go through our day to help our bodies maintain lower stress levels and to keep our minds grounded in the present moment.
Here's to lowering your stress today!