Many put off creating a stress relief plan, but you don’t need longer days or an expensive coach to get started.
The Body Scan
Use this relaxation exercise alone or to get ready for meditation. While reclined or seated, mentally “tell” each muscle group to relax. In childbirth training, instructors have their students tense and relax each muscle group, allowing them to learn to isolate each muscle group. Performing a body scan outside of meditation is fairly simple. Just direct your attention to each muscle group: left arm, right arm, left leg, right leg, stomach, shoulders, face, toes….etc., relaxing each muscle group as your attention moves through your body. Body scans and mindfulness work together, making you aware of how your body is handling a stressful event. This blunts the impact of unpleasant people or situations while establishing a safe distance between yourself and a crises.
Some stress management techniques have been around since the dawn of man.
Scent and Color
Individually or together, a little incense and low lighting with a bluish, violet or pinkish hue will calm me as long as the phone doesn’t ring. Calming sessions using scent and/or color also trains your mind to focus on your surroundings. Relaxation gets easier and comes faster with practice. Added to your weekly schedule or only when you’re having a particularly stressful patch, it’s an inexpensive way to avoid insomnia, high blood pressure and other symptoms of uncontrolled stress.
Not the “heathen-with-his-hair-on-fire / dedicated gym-rat” level of exercise, but something closer to walking, leisurely swimming or light yoga. Just enough to improve your circulation while you enjoy a change of scenery. Physical activity helps burn-off stress hormones, burns calories from stress-eating and the sun exposure stimulates vitamin D production as the deep breathing relaxes chest muscles and improves your oxygen intake. If all of that isn’t enough motivation, while your conscious mind focuses on physical activity the subconscious works on solutions to problems. You may find inspiration and resolution while walking your favorite path.
Draw, Sketch, Write, Sculpt
Moving moods and emotions from the ethereal and subjective to the concrete and objective realm can mean using your imagination. However, organizing and condensing events with pen and paper takes less imagination than an abstract painting might. Journaling is great for organizing your impressions, recording and analyzing stressful events, and noting which stress-relief activities work best. Scattering relevant sketches between paragraphs and in the margins makes the entries rich and revealing. Need something less “formal” and more expressive?
Have you tried coloring a mandala?
While some people sketch like Da Vinci, most of us are lucky to make a decent stick figure. That’s where adult coloring books come in. These aren’t the coloring books of elementary school, though. Many feature complex, almost irresistible patterns that draw you in. The page demands your focus but choosing the perfect color combinations gives you a sense of control. There must be a therapeutic benefit in finishing a page then decorating your space with your own artwork – even cavemen painted on their walls. Going through a particularly rough period? Feeling a bit aggressive? working with polymer clay give you a chance to squeeze, pinch, squash, twist… you get the drift. Once you are happy with the resulting piece, just bake it in an oven for about 15 minutes, depending on the brand. Just think – you can wear smaller pieces as jewelry, create trinket dishes in mood-triggering colors and regale guests with the interesting stories behind your art.
“I came across the Stress Relief Toolkit at a time when I was particularly stressed. The weekly modules were very effective. I found it really useful to take time out each week to reflect on what was causing me stress and to plan what I could do differently to improve my stress levels over the coming week. ” -Julia Harris
“…I’ve had four procedures that involved needles in my spine, epidurals in my spine and that only gave me a little bit of temporary relief for a couple days. But it did not cure or really help anything…After my first session of Back Pain Relief4Life, I felt an opening in my back that I haven’t felt in a long time…”- Michelle Onoff
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