“How we perceive a situation and how we react to it is the basis of our stress. If you focus on the negative in any situation, you can expect high-stress levels. However, if you try and see the good in the situation, your stress levels will greatly diminish.” – Catherine Pulsifer
This is part-2 of the 2-part series on relaxation. Read part-1 here.
Here is a recap of part-1:
1. Deep Breathing, A Simple But Effective Relaxation Technique
2. Affirmations Are Powerful For Relaxation
3. Ho’ooponono, the Ancient Healing Art
4. Yoga, Pilates, and Exercise, The Great Stress Busters
5. Meditation, The Single Most Powerful Relaxation Practice
6. Walking in Nature, A Deeply Relaxing Practice
7. Sleep More and Take Naps if Possible
8. Enhance Loving Thought and Touch and Develop Deep Meaningful Relationships
9. Develop Awareness And Presence…Enjoy the Moment And Deeply Relax
10. Count Backward In Bed For Instant Relaxation
11. Laughter Yoga and The Power of Laughter
Please be mindful of when and where you are trying out these practices and take full responsibility for your actions. As a general practice, do NOT try them when you are driving or operating machinery and so on. These practices are NOT a substitute for medical attention or severe depression. If you are experiencing anything serious, please seek medical attention immediately.
“Do not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.” – Benjamin Franklin
Let us move on!
12. The Healing Power of Water
“Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.” ― Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad
There is something healing and soothing about the power of water. Whether you love taking a relaxing bath or have creative ideas in the shower, water has a way to release tension.
But we get in such a hurry and remain so stressed that we do not allow the healing caress of water to relax us.
Next time you take a shower, get in the moment and enjoy the relaxing touch of the water. Instead of hurrying from point a to point b, take a few minutes to relax and feel the water across your face.
Not just the soothing effect of water, but the sound of water is also healing:
- Have you heard the rain drop on the terrace?
- The sound of the ocean.
- The rhythmic sound of a waterfall.
- The serene presence of still water.
13. Taking Breaks to Relax and Increase Creative Productivity
“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.” — Alan Cohen
There is nothing more relaxing to break up a work day into 40 to 50-minute chunks and take a well-deserved break for a few minutes between them.
Research shows that even disengaging from work and stretching for a few moments can relax us. Short breaks can alleviate attention decrement or deterioration of attention.
This attention depreciation happens when we focus on a task for longer than 45 minutes. We receive progressively diminishing returns.
Breaks do not need to be elaborate. Just a few moments to refocus and regroup the self may be all that you need. But if you can catch a slightly larger break going into a few minutes, all the better for your focus and productivity and relaxation.
“I won’t take a real nap. I have this halfway place, a rest stop on the road to sleep, where I can stay for hours. I don’t even need to close my eyes, just stay safe under the covers and breathe.”― Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak
14. Sub-modalities, The Art of Knowing Yourself
“We defined thinking in several different ways: thinking in pictures, thinking in words, and thinking in feelings, tastes, and smells. Since then, I’ve taken it a step further by breaking each of those systems down into their various components and qualities. The qualities of images, sounds, and feelings are known as submodalities.” – Richard Bandler, Get the Life You Want
Become Aware of the physical self and see where tension and stress have a tendency to build up. According to NLP or Neuro Linguistic Programming, the sub-modalities of how fear and tension move and behave are important.
You may be thinking of a certain thing and looking in a certain direction in addition to having some physical sensations in your body that are the triggers for the stress and tension. Ask what does stress feel like in your body and in your mind?
Dr. Bandler explains that feelings start somewhere in the body. Then they are moving in some direction and usually do not stay still.
- What are you focusing on when you feel tense?
- How does it feel in the body?
- Is it static or does it move in a direction?
- What are the causes and the structures that allow the tension and stress to thrive?
Becoming aware of your state at the moment or becoming aware of the movement or behavior of stress can be a first step in releasing it.
15. Become Aware of Mental Self-Chatter
“Believing in negative thoughts is the single greatest obstruction to success.” ― Charles F. Glassman
Become aware of what your thought patterns and structures look like. It is impossible to guard all thoughts and convert them into positive ones. But, it is possible to have a greater ratio of positive to negative ones.
We know that research has shown that negativity is stronger and more emotionally impactful that positivity.
There are thought patterns that stress and those that relax.
1. Become aware of your thought patterns as you move through the day.
2. Become aware of ANT’s or automatic negative thoughts and choose to replace them with favorable ones. This ANT mental chatter causes a lot of stress.
3. Consciously tip the balance towards positive thoughts and release negative ones. You may not be able to choose which thoughts come to you but you have the choice to release them or cling to them.
16. Get Your Self-pampering On!
“One day a week I seek to rest from earthly toil and sorrow. Revitalized, I find the strength to battle new tomorrows.” ― Richelle E. Goodrich
When you feel stressed out and tense, schedule in some “me” time to do something good for yourself.
This could be:
- Getting a Message.
- Getting a Manicure.
- Spending some quality alone time or with friends in a coffee shop.
- Or whatever way that you pamper yourself.
17. Listen to Relaxing Music
“Relax. Refresh. Renew. Play. Sing. Laugh. Enjoy. Forgive. Dance. Love. Hug. Share. Kiss. Create. Explore. Hope. Listen. Dare. Trust. Dream. Learn. TODAY!”― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience
Music has a wonderful way of releasing stress and tension from the body and mind. Remember the time when you had a great music list that you would listen and sing to with no cares in the world?
Music is a strong invoker of good or even bad memories and can be used to be set up as an effective trigger of the relaxation response.
When you listen to music that deeply relaxes you, allow it to become your own relaxation ritual. Schedule in time to listen to music every week.
18. Eat Well and drink lots of water
While this is a no-brainer, you would be surprised how many people forego eating well. Some people do not even drink enough water when they feel stressed out or they may resort to binge eating.
And we have all been there before where we are chugging the next latte to put in some more hours of work and productivity.
But the problem is that getting dehydrated and not getting the proper nutrition stress out your body. This in turn, stresses out your mind and everything else.
The body-mind-spirit connection is well established and nothing exists in a vacuum.
1. Prepare healthy food beforehand.
2. Make sure you drink plenty of pure water.
3. Keep healthy snacks handy with you at work that you can eat if you crave some energy.
4. Remember that eating smaller portions throughout the day is better than eating two big meals.
5. Never skip breakfast, the most important meal of the day.
6. Replace high calorie processed food for fruits, veggies, and other healthier options.
7. Eat slowly while enjoying your food. Eat slowly, mindfully and chew slowly. Do not carry the stress into your eating time.
19. Always Arrive Early for Appointments
“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.” – Sydney J. Harris, American journalist
This is a small but super powerful tip to relax even the most stressed-out appointment keepers. As part of a busy day, we all have to run around often several times a day from one appointment to another.
The best way to destress is to have enough time to arrive for your next appointment. In fact, arriving a few minutes early effectively breaks the stress cycle and uncouples us from unnecessary tension.
1. Do not over-schedule your day.
2. Keep enough and realistic time amounts to travel from one appointment to another.
3. Always try to arrive early to remove a lot of stress from your day.
4. Factor in unforeseen delayers such as traffic and weather before you schedule in appointments.
20. Visualize peaceful and happy outcomes
“Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.” – Wayne W. Dyer
A lot of stress is related to visualizing outcomes that seem dreadful. When we think of different scenarios, the ones that stick like super glue in our minds are the negative ones or ones where you anticipate a lot of stress.
This may have had an evolutionary advantage in the days of the saber-toothed lion for survival. But a lot of the automatic negative stress response does not make sense today.
The survival risks and stresses are not the same as prehistoric times. But we still have the same biological fight or flight mechanism active in our minds and bodies.
And it all starts from one visualization of you giving a bad presentation or failing to make the sale. Once the visuals gain strength, they invoke a lot of automatic and sub-conscious stress and tension. You feel uneasy and do not know how to shake off the mood doldrums.
“To experience peace does not mean that your life is always blissful. It means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life.” -Jill Botte Taylor, My Stroke of Insight
1. Become aware of the negativity visualizing and simulating ability of your brain. In other words, our vivid imagination loves to run away with unfavorable visualization.
2. Use all the senses to stop this process and refocus on a better outcome. This not some new age mumbo jumbo. It is simply a fast and easy way to get off the stress mechanism and get on board the relaxation response.
3. Imagine and visualize that you are having a wonderful outcome and everyone is giving kudos to your presentation. Or feel good imagining after the sale that you made successfully. Feel the endorphins rush in to take the place of the stress chemicals.
4. Sit down in your favorite meditation spot and imagine you are at the beach and relax to feel the surf. Feel the waves soaring, even put some wave motion sounds on your music player.
21. Slow Down and Watch the Rain and Smell the Flowers
“Have regular hours for work and play; make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well.” — Louisa May Alcott
One of the reasons stress is out of control is that we have increased the pace of life with everything. We go, go, and go and do not consider to slow down and enjoy the moment.
The easiest way to uncouple from this stress of movement and nervousness is to slow down. Slow down and smell the coffee. Slow down and smell and watch the rain do its cosmic dance.
The Dalai Lama is known to stop and smell or look at even the smallest flower with wonder and awe. If there is one thing that I learned from His Holiness, it is to have self-compassion to slow down and enjoy the beauty of the current moment. The Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh hopes that we walk slowly and consciously like we are kissing the ground.
Bonus extra tips:
22. Write a Journal or jot down your thoughts
Writing down a journal and jotting down personal thoughts decreases stress and puts things in perspective. You will feel better after putting a pen down to paper.
23. Maintain a Gratitude log
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” – Epicurus
Gratitude is a powerful way to limit the amount of stress that we can have in our life. Gratitude and appreciation take you away from the world of hedonic stress and consumption. They take you to the world of contentment and enjoying what you already have.
It is a powerful shift because you are no longer too concerned about procuring the next thing. Instead, you focus on enjoying what you have and what you get right here and right now. Deep and heartfelt gratitude and appreciation and making a practice out of them can deeply relax and bring peace into our life.
This is the end of this post. Please let me know in the comments below and on social media if this post resonated with you.