Who isn’t stressed these days? Between the economy, world events and everyday pressures and hassles, everyone is feeling life’s demands. BUT, you can stop any anxiety you may be having by trying one, or a few of these quick and simple pick-me-ups!
1. Stretch – Taking just 60 seconds to bend, twist and lengthen your muscles, can pulse needed oxygen to your brain and help clear your thinking.
2. Give your jaw a workout – Stress is often stored in the neck area and in the jaw muscles. Chewing a stick of sugarless chewing gum helps release this tension, as does blowing up a balloon or eating an apple to loosen things up.
3. Brush your Teeth – The simple act of freshening your mouth, also freshens your outlook. The cool water and the slow brushing calms your mind as well.
4. Take a whiff of Lavender Oil – Lavender has been shown to have a relaxing effect. All you need do is to smell it when you are in the midst of some anxiety, and are needing some mental calm.
5.Stroke your Dog or Cat – People who own and enjoy animals have dramatically lower levels of stress and anxiety. Your pet’s appreciation of you has an immediate calming effect, which is why animals are now allowed to visit Hostels and Aged Care Homes. It has been scientifically proven that petting an animal brings soothing calm and peace.
6. Enjoy the effects of Water – Sit by a fountain, watch the rain and listen to it falling, or drink a glass of water like it was a fine wine. The sound, and the feeling of water will automatically relax you. If you don’t like the taste of your local water, filter it.
7. E-Mail a Friend – Sometimes all we needed was a break from the routine, so a brief quick e-mail to a friend can bring a shift in focus and a welcome mental break. It reminds you of a pleasant relationship and a brief respite from your hectic day. I call it a quick smile in an otherwise non-smiley day, where you have had to concentrate without connecting on a personal level in your busy day.
8. Shrug and Roll your Shoulders and Sit Up Straight – When you are tense, without realising it, you tend to hunker down and physically turn inward. So, lift your shoulders and either drop them, or roll them back. Shift your awareness in your chair so that you are sitting up straighter, and you will also shift your awareness out of worry, and into ‘I’m in control, everything will be fine!’
9. Listen to your Instincts – Pay attention to that little voice inside. Do you need to take a break? Update your resume? Try a new activity? Or dump a friend who is more trouble than they are worth, but guilt or a false sense of responsibility has been stopping you in the past? Sometimes to relieve your anxiety, all it takes is you listening for a minute to hear what your subconscious is trying to tell you (even if you aren’t sure that you want to hear it!)
10. Declutter – Clear off your desktop at work, throw away anything you don’t need or love, even if your Aunt Mabel gave it to you, and create a visually cleaner area. It is an immediate pick up for your senses and your whole self. Do one desk, one drawer or one shelf at a time. No need to create a situation of overwhelm here, just one section at a time. If you have a stack of paperwork for example, every time you go past the pile, just resolve to get rid of say ten pages; and in no time at all and with no pressure, it will magically disappear.
11. Imagine the Possibilities – Just think to yourself for a minute – what would happen if you let go of an old grudge, reconnect with a friend, or put a difficult issue with a spouse or a co-worker to rest? Just imagine the outcome and how you would feel. By imagining things differently you begin to shift your focus and all your mental energies are very powerfully re-directed. Works really well.
12. Take a deep, lung-bursting Breath – Exhale fully – then do it again! Have you noticed how we tend to take short, shallow breaths when stresses are mounting? By the simple act of intentionally breathing deeply, you break that stress cycle and encourage your whole body to be calmer and at peace.
13. Turn your Face to the Sun – If you are indoors, find a quiet space by a window, close your eyes for just a few moments, and let the natural heat and light from the sun restore you…inside and out. To enhance your vision, when the sun is almost gone from view at the end of the day, look at it directly for a few minutes. It has the effect of strengthening the optic nerves. Remember you should never look at it directly in the middle of the day.
14. Make a List – When details are threatening to overwhelm you, taking time to put your thoughts on paper can help you feel more organised and free up valuable space in your brain.
15. Sing a Song – Escape for just a minute. Hum a few notes softly or belt out a favourite song! Music has a powerful ability to calm and soothe.
16. Fix yourself a relaxing Cup of Tea – Chamomile tea or Green Tea has restorative powers. Sip it, take your time and calm will appear. If you have low blood pressure, you can sip a small watered down whisky over a period of time and your blood pressure will gradually level out and rebalance itself. Works a treat…
17. Go on a Mental Vacation – Close your eyes and picture yourself in a serene setting. You are digging your toes into wet sand at the beach or hiking through a majestic forest, or swishing through the edge of water at a natural rockpool, or sitting somewhere watching the sun rise. You can do these things for real of course, but if you don’t have time or can’t see yourself physically getting away, just imagining it will do much to restore your soul.
18. Get a Mini Massage – Ask your spouse, or a friend to rub your shoulders and upper back, or karate chop with the sides of your hands firmly but gently in this area to release where tension is often stored…
19. Sit against a Wall – That’s right: When you feel anxiety beginning to mount, stand about arms length from a wall and slide your back down the wall until you are in a sitting position, with your back verticallly supported. Hold this position for around 45 seconds. It’s harder than it looks, and the end result is that blood is pumped into your glutes and thighs, two of the largest muscles groups in your body. The effort it takes to maintain the position and the resulting circulation boost will help clear your mind and improve your reasoning capabilities.
20. Grab a Healthy Snack – Fluctuating blood sugar levels and hunger pangs add to any feelings of frustration, but having a healthy snack such as a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts, can help head off stress or lessen it considerably.
21. Read something that makes you Smile – It can be a cartoon from the daily newspaper, or short quips of humour from the Internet – temporarily shift your focus onto something amusing and your whole body will shift into endorphin-production mode, which can and does calm any frazzled nerves!
22. Practice saying ‘No’ – Imagine a few likely scenarios where people ask you to do things that you’d rather not do, then practice turning them down graciously. For example, when you get yet another telemarketer phone call for a donation, just calmly reply that you only donate to (name one charity), and wish them well. They are calm, and you are calm. Works well.
23. Remember to Smile – Even when circumstances are very challenging, keeping a smile on your face makes you (and others) feel better. Easy to do, but often forgotten in a rush and hurry world! If someone doesn’t have a smile, give ’em one of yours!
24. Watch the Fish Swim – If you work in a high stress environment, consider adding a goldfish bowl to your desktop. Watching fish swim is an ancient method for instilling peacefulness. Why do you think so many dentists have aquariums in the waiting rooms?
25. Write down your Frustrations – The simple act of committing your troubles and worries to paper has a cleansing effect. Once you have finished, read your list. You can go down the list and prioritise what you can actually achieve today, then leave the rest for tomorrow, knowing that you cannot forget anything, because you have written it down. I often get patients to write down what is troubling them when they say they cannot sleep because they are worrying and thinking too much. Then I tell them to say out loud, ‘I have written it down. I cannot forget it. I can go back to sleep now. I know I can read my list in the morning and remember what I need to do. I am at peace now.’ OR, you can take another approach to too many stresses and worries on your list. If you are feeling totally overwhelmed, just having written it all down, simply read over your list, then tear it up and throw it away. Say to the Angels, this is in your care now. I have sighed enough over it all and I need your help to fix this, and tear it or burn it and simply allow it to drift away. This helps by taking it out of your constant thoughts and your mental spaces and letting it go is a release…
26. Call a Reassuring Friend – Even if you have only a minute, take a quick break to call a friend who has a consistently positive mental attitude. They can help you readjust any negative thinking. Remember not to talk to someone else who is in a similar situation as they haven’t found the answers yet either! You need to talk to someone upbeat and cheery in order to feel cheerier yourself!
27. Count your Blessings – When you are feeling overwhelmed, take a few moments to remember the things in your life that are working well. Think about recent successes or the people you love. Taking a moment to focus on the positives in your life, and being grateful; can provide you with a sense of perspective and indeed it can restore your entire well-being…
Where in your life do you feel stressed and out of balance? Coming back into harmony is as easy as making the choices that will take you there…
What is your favourite way of releasing stress? Mine is to watch a favourite movie, something upbeat or humorous usually does the trick!
Of course all our problems won’t magically disappear, but the journey is made lighter and seemingly quicker by trying one or all of the above…bring on the smiles…let the harmony you NOW feel overflow and touch everything around you…
I wish you well,
Barbara White Wolf