Relaxing. Hm. What is that?! Doing nothing on a beach or binge watching Netflix all weekend? Not necessarily. I remember it took me a while to understand what this “relax” word even meant, especially on a regular basis. Our culture is so fast paced we can get stuck on autopilot where we are constantly on the go to somewhere like Rihanna says,“work work work work work.” We like to glamorize or emphasize how much we do and wear it like a badge of honor. This makes it pretty hard to chill out. When we add in any anxiety, depression, ADHD, trauma, or other medical or mental health issues on top of this, we can become caught up in a lot of different thoughts or behaviors that wind up causing us more stress and struggle.
Stress management is KEY to living a healthy, relaxing life because it can prevent both physical and mental difficulties from developing or worsening. Finding ways to de-stress, eat right and get enough rest are required for stress management, which let’s be honest, we could all be a little better at doing. There has got to be some middle ground between constant busyness and the nothingness on the couch all weekend. When you are a relaxing beginner it may feel overwhelming to put aside time for healthy, intentional rest and relaxation. Here are some tips for how to add some brief relief into your busy day;
- Take a minute (or even 10 seconds) on your commute to work in the morning to take a few deep breaths. You may be driving, walking, biking, taking the bus or just taking a few steps down the hall to your home office. Inhale all the way down to your belly and slowly let it go as you breathe out. Make the exhale longer than the inhale, this allows your parasympathetic nervous system to kick in and let’s your nerves calm down. Allow yourself to notice you have a living, breathing body with you and you are more than what you are going to be doing all day.
- Find ways to incorporate a little more movement in your day with some small adjustments. Park further from the front door so you can get in some more steps, take the stairs, walk while you are talking on the phone. Dance to some music you love, hop on a stationary bike or treadmill first thing in the morning while you get your day started and are scrolling through emails. According to Harvard Health Blog, “ Regular aerobic exercise can reduce anxiety by making your brain’s “fight or flight” system less reactive. When we are anxious and expose ourselves to physiological changes we fear, such as a rapid heartbeat, through regular aerobic exercise, we can develop a tolerance for such symptoms. Read more on how moving your body benefits your mental health here; https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-simply-moving-benefits-your-mental-health-201603289350
- 5 Minute Meditations. There are so many short guided meditations on youtube you can find as well as meditation apps available. See if you can incorporate 5 minutes per day or even just a couple times per week to start.
- Notice your stress levels and what makes them rise. What in particular brings you anxiety through the day? Is it the pressure of paperwork on your desk, interacting with people or when you find you have nothing to do? Take note of what brings your stress up the highest so you can explore where it comes from and maybe address it with a counselor.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Sleep is such a basic need and yet so powerful! According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood institute, “During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. Losing just one night of sleep can increase stress and anxiety in our bodies. In children and teens, sleep also helps support growth and development. Ongoing sleep deficiency can raise your risk for some chronic health problems.” Did you know that different age groups have varying recommendations for the amount of sleep they need? Check out their site for more info. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/sleep-deprivation-and-deficiency
As always, counseling is available to you if your stress or anxiety levels feel unmanageable and overwhelming. Please feel free to reach out and contact me for a free 15 minute consultation.