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Stress: who needs it, huh? It isn’t something we ask for, but it is something we all get, time to time. Here are some tried and tested tips for stress relief.
If you’re stressed right now then try some of these tips. They’re easy to do and all free, so what have you got to lose?
Tip #1: Go and get a drink
Wait! Don’t hit the scotch or dose up on caffeine just yet! These things will make you even more jumpy. I mean re-hydrate yourself, and leave your desk for a break. A cup of decaf or a glass of water will work wonders.
Our bodies need water, and when we don’t get it, we put it under stress. So have a drink! Most workplaces are as humid as a crypt (i.e. not very humid!) so your body is already under attack from a dry atmosphere. Reduced water levels encourages headaches to form too, so you may find that a drink and a break lowers your stress almost instantly. Go do it!
Tip #2: Go for a walk
A bit of exercise can work wonders too. Get that blood pumping! You don’t need to go far, a quick walk outside in some fresh air will oxygenate your blood and your stress will just disappear. Your walk will add new distractions and give you something else to think about. Hey, it might even inspire you to solve the problems that are causing your stress. Above all, it will give you a sense of perspective. Just what you need!
Tip #3: Have a laugh!
Laughter produces strange reactions in our brain that causes us to feel better, and lighten up. It lowers levels of the stress hormones (called cortisol), adrenaline and noradrenalin (whatever that is), and it lowers blood pressure. It also causes our muscles to relax, improves respiration, and soothes our internal organs like the heart and lungs. When I get stressed, I feel all uptight and my shoulders begin to ache after a while. Laughter seems to do the same thing as a massage for me.
Tip #4: Have a nap!
This one is more appropriate for homeworkers (right?). If you can, take a nap. How many times have you slept on a problem to wake up wondering what all the fuss was about? When we sleep, we wire up our brains and it solves problems for us. Give is a try!
Tip #5: Go on, have a good cry about it…
If you can’t laugh, then cry. A good sob has a powerful impact on stress too. A study by the University of Minnesota discovered that the chemicals that build up in your body during emotional stress can, in fact, be removed in our tears! Wow! They also learned that unreleased stress can increase your risk for heart attack and cause brain-damage. So it would seem crying isn’t just a therapy, it’s a survival tactic. (Do they teach crying to Special Forces?)
Tip #6: Deep breathing
Deep breathing releases tension from the body and clears the mind, improving both physical and mental wellness. It can be self-taught too!
We tend to breathe shallowly or even hold our breath under stress, sometimes we are not even aware that we are doing it. It limits the amount of oxygen we take in which then stresses our body even further. I do this a lot, so I have had to learn deep breathing. I know when I am shallow breathing as I develop a pain in my chest.
BONUS: How you can do Deep Breathing Exercises.
You can do this at home, at work or even in the car.
Firstly, you need a good posture. Sit up straight – do not arch your back. Now, breathe out completely through your mouth. Then, put your hands on your stomach above your waist. Great start so far!
Breathe in slowly through your nose, and push your hands out with your stomach (this serves the purpose of ensuring that you are breathing deeply.) You’re half-way there!
Hold your breath by counting up to five, or whatever you can cope with (less is OK!) You will find it easier when you hold your breath by also holding out your stomach. Home-stretch now.
Slowly, steadily, breathe out through your mouth, on the count of six or seven. Your hands should move back in as you do. Hey presto! You’re deep breathing!
Repeat this over until you feel your stress levels come right down.
And don’t worry if you sound like Darth Vader!
A Bit of Extra Help
If these tips don’t work for you then you should try Stress Management for Dummies.