06 Jun Pause, Breathe, Relax: Five Stress-Busting Steps
In today’s distraction-filled world, the lines between work and home life are blurred. With our smartphones constantly bleeping with updates and alerts, it can be tough to build and maintain a regular schedule. Without this natural, predictable rhythm of routine, we might find ourselves facing stress with weakened defenses.
It’s unlikely that any of us will ever completely eradicate stress, but there are simple, subtle tricks that can be used to calm down when faced with a stress sneak-attack.
The next time you’re jittery and anxious, focus on your breathing. Hurried, shallow breathing is our body going through the motions of fight-or-flight. It’s our natural reaction to stress, but it can be detrimental to our overall ability to cope.
Take long, slow breaths in through your nose. Exhale through your mouth. Repeat as many times as needed. This simple stress-busting exercise is extremely effective; it reduces muscle tension, lowers blood pressure, and decreases anxiety. Here’s the psychological trick: by focusing on breathing, we distract our brains from the source of our anxiety, making it that much easier to overcome.
Whether you work at a desk or on a production line, tense muscles can escalate symptoms of stress. If you have muscle tension in your neck, shoulders, and upper back, take a few quick stretching breaks throughout the day to increase blood flow and recharge your muscles.
One-Minute Hand Massages
Ever wondered why stress sometimes brings headaches and body aches along with it? It’s due to vasoconstriction: the constriction of blood vessels, which then inflame your arteries and muscles.
To counteract this, give yourself a mini-massage. Using rhythmic, circular motions, begin by massaging your wrists, moving up to the palm and then fingertips, then work your way back to the wrists again. Promoting blood flow can hinder vasoconstriction, reducing the chances of being blindsided by physical aches and pains.
Create a Stress-Free Zone
Create your own personal no-stress space on your desk, in your locker, or anyplace else that’s easily accessible and private. Add small, relaxing elements like calming scents, music, or pictures that make you smile. Whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can steal a second in your sanctuary and recharge your batteries.
Drink More Water
When stress muscles in on our routines, it’s surprisingly easy to forget the basics like eating and drinking. The next time you’re on edge, drink a glass of water. Studies have shown that even mild dehydration can lead to elevated levels of the stress-exacerbating hormone cortisol. Knock your cortisol levels down a peg with cool, calorie-free water.