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Whether its traffic, financial woes, Covid-related issues, or any number of 21st-Century triggers, stress can strike fast and can be debilitating. The following techniques are meant to help sooth stress and offer a quick “cool-down.”
Change Your Environment (If Possible)
Do something pleasurable or relaxing for a little while, such as reading, watching TV, or taking a shower. If you are at work, try to find a place to pull over so you can get out of your car for a few minutes and breath some fresh air.
Practice Breathing Exercises
Focus on your breath, pushing all other thoughts aside. Be conscious of the air coming in and going out; focus on the sensation of inhaling and exhaling. You can also try counting breaths… maybe 10 at a time. The goal is to take your mind off what is causing the stress.
Meditate (or Pray)
You don’t need to sit crossed-legged on the floor and burn incense. Meditation is about quieting the mind. Not reacting; just noticing. Even a minute can make a big difference. Be in the moment, noticing everything around you. Just observe without reacting.
If you are religious, you may find your faith to be comforting. Saying a small prayer or series of prayers can be calming. It often has the same effect as meditation, but some people find it easier to pray because it’s something they have done before.
Do Relaxation Exercises
Sometimes known as progressive muscle relaxation, practice tensing and then releasing each of your muscle groups. If your body is physiologically relaxed, then you won’t be stressed.
Go Walking or Running
Exercise can be a great stress reliever. It helps you blow off steam and releases endorphins. Take a walk or consider running, if you aren’t working. This will provide some perspective so you can return to a better frame of mind.
Practice a Rhythmic Activity
Walking or running are great rhythmic activities that readjust your focus and relieve stress. You can also drum on a table with your hands or use a couple pencils.
Immerse Yourself in a Creative Outlet
Doing something creative that you enjoy – like cooking, baking, art or photography – often relieves stress. These activities require focus, concentration and physical activity, taking your mind off what is causing you stress.
Express Your Feelings
Write about what is causing your stress, along with how you feel, in a journal. You can also use colored pencils and paper to focus your concentration on drawing what is bothering you, or simply have coffee with a trusted friend and talk.
Be “in the Moment” With One of Your Senses
Focus on sight, smell, sound or taste. Focusing on just one of them can quickly help melt stress away. Eat something that you crave and savor each bite. Light a scented candle and breathe in your favorite scent. Listen to music that improves your mood. Look at something beautiful in your surroundings that makes you stop and stare.
If one method doesn’t work for you, try another. Learning to cool down takes practice. Be patient with yourself and you will reap the benefits.
Getting help from a professional is always a good idea, too – especially if none of these tips are doing the trick. Start by talking to your primary care doctor for advice. These days, you can even start with a video call.
Source: Virtua Health