When was the last time you took the time to relax? It is easy for tension to build up without you realising what is happening. Before long you might begin to think feeling irritable, sad, or restless is just your natural state. Chronic tension affects both your body and your mind. Tension can weaken your immune system and increase your risk for many health issues, including heart disease and diabetes. Stressful events will happen, but you can control how they affect you. Try these ideas for building your resilience and creating a calmer environment.
Increasing Your Resilience:
- Slow down.
You’ll probably accomplish more if you stop rushing around. Cut your to-do list down to a realistic size. Schedule breaks to relax throughout the day.
- Breathe deeply. Your feelings are closely tied to your breath. Lie down on your back and place one hand on your abdomen. Your body will naturally start to breathe more fully from your diaphragm rather than taking shallow breaths from your chest.
- Laugh it up. Humor drives away tension. Look for the funny side of difficult situations. Cheer up after a hard day by calling a friend who cracks you up or watching a funny movie.
- Eat healthily. Sticking to a balanced diet will make your body more effective at tolerating stress. Get most of your calories from natural whole foods. Cut down on added sugar and salt. Lose excess weight gradually and safely.
- Sleep well. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Schedule going to bed early enough to wake up feeling refreshed. Maintain your new schedule, and relax even on holidays and weekends.
- Work out. Exercise is a constructive way to handle disturbing news or conflicts at work. Do exercises that allow you to ‘let go’ of built-up emotions such as anger or frustration you can do at home. Attend a yoga class online or go for a walk to settle your mind after busy days.
- Create something. Creativity is a perfect stress buster. Find a medium that you enjoy. You may want to paint with watercolors or sculpt metal. You may prefer writing poetry or folk dancing. It’s not what you do, anything is perfect if it allows you to relax. Focussed concentration is meditation in disguise.
- Reach out. Build a network of mutually supportive relationships. Connect with family and friends on a regular basis.
- Advocate for yourself. Let others know how they can help you. Ask for what you need tactfully and directly.
Adjusting Your Environment:
- Clear away clutter. A tidy home and workspace will reduce your anxiety levels. Get rid of anything you seldom use. Donate it to charity or sell it online. Throw it away or store it out of sight if you are unable to part with it right now. You cannot relax in a mess.
- Add Fragrance Perfumes and fragrances are very relaxing if you select those which remind you of peaceful or happy times. Experiment with aromatherapy essential oils like lavender and chamomile, and others known for their relaxing and calming influence.
- Play music. Use sound to create the mood you want. Put together a playlist on Spotify or your phone for different activities or simply switch off listening to soft music in the background.
- Enjoy silence. Silence can be soothing. Switch off ‘the world’ for an hour or two each day. Buy a pair of noise-canceling headphones if you need to block out family members, noisy neighbours, or heavy traffic.
- Decorate naturally. Green spaces are energizing. Spend more time outdoors and bring nature into your home. Grow ferns and herbs. Cover your couch with a floral print throw. Imagine sitting down to relax…. What do you need?
- Create a refuge. Go on a Retreat – local or international. Design a meditation room or space in your home. If you have trouble meditating, you can use the space for reading or relaxation practices. Remember meditation comes in many disguises. Reading, craft, painting, pottery… sport! There is no right or wrong – Do it Your Way!
Most of All, Remember …………….
Dealing with stress is an ongoing process. Take time each day to think about what you can do to make your surroundings more peaceful to protect your health and wellbeing.