If you are feeling stressed and have a few minutes to spare try one of these quick-fire stress busters to make you feel better. You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your armchair!
1. Call a friend. Your friends are only a phone call away, so pick up the phone and give them a call. The old adage “a problem shared is a problem halved” is true, and if you have something on your mind then talking it through with someone sympathetic and supportive can work wonders for your mood. Talking is a great stress reliever which can help you feel connected with someone and alleviate feelings of loneliness.
2. Sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep is vital for us all, as it allows the mind and body to recover from the previous day. If you are suffering from stress however, your mind is kept busy mulling over worries and problems which can keep you awake at night and stop you getting those much needed Zs. This can leave you feeling tired the next day and make your stress symptoms even worse. Allowing yourself a little nap can help recharge your batteries and give your body time to rest, and if you keep it to less than 20 minutes you won’t go into deep sleep, so you should wake up feeling refreshed and alert. Taking a nap before 3pm means it shouldn’t affect your sleep that night either.
3. Breathe. Learning to breathe properly can be one of the simplest and most effective ways to beat stress. By breathing deeply, slowly and rhythmically, you can lower your blood pressure, slow down your brain waves and relax your nervous system. Breathing techniques for relaxation involve breathing from the diaphragm (abdomen), otherwise known as belly breathing’. Breaths should be slow and deep, and should bring the air down into the lower part of the lungs – you should feel your abdomen rise on the in-breath, instead of your chest. Try breathing in for a count of seven, and exhaling for a count of eleven. The exhaling breath is longer because it is more relaxing, and this is an excellent way of calming yourself down as you focus on counting and drawing breaths.
4. Meditate. Meditation can be described as conscious relaxation. It is the process of attaining total awareness, where the mind becomes free of all thoughts. In meditation you experience a deep sense of relaxation and stillness which becomes easier to attain the more regularly you practice. The basic meditation technique involves sitting comfortably with your spine straight, eliminating as much background noise and distractions as possible, and trying to quiet your mind by thinking of nothing. This is easier said than done! You may find it helps if you focus on something intently, for example a candle, or your breathing. The more you practice, the easier it gets. Don’t try and force something to happen, and don’t try to make your mind go blank. Just relax and let the meditation happen.
5. Listen to Music. Music has the power to change the way you feel in an instant, and playing an uplifting or relaxing track can be a very powerful way to influence your mood. Music with a slower tempo will lower the heart rate and slow down breathing, thereby promoting a calm and meditative state.