More than eight out of ten Americans report being stressed out about their jobs for one reason or another. And then there is the added stress that is inherent in our personal lives. Stress can lead to physical harm as severe as heart disease or diabetes, so it’s important that we learn how to keep it in check—especially in the office. Everyone has their own way of managing stress, but if you find yourself struggling, take a look at some of the ideas below on how to introduce some restoration and relaxation into your daily routine.
It’s not just for soccer moms and spiritual soul searchers – yoga refocuses the mind, activates the central nervous system, and improves digestion (among other benefits), while being a great workout, to boot. Do a quick Google search for yoga studios around your area to find one that has a class that will cater to what you’re looking for. If you just want an hour all to yourself where you can focus on your breathing and tune out the rest of the world, maybe try a relax and restore class. If it’s harder for you to shut off your brain, go for something that will challenge you physically to allow you to block out external factors, like a Vinyasa flow or a heated power class. (And if you prefer, there are some great yoga instructors on YouTube for you to try in the privacy of your own home.) Regardless of what you choose, there’s guaranteed to be something that will float your boat and give you that escape you need to destress.
2. Deep Breathing
Taking a page out of yoga’s book, deep breathing is one of the quintessential stress management techniques. Since stress raises our heart rate and puts additional strain on the heart and nervous system, it’s important to make sure we can regulate that heart rate when the pressure really starts to kick in. The next time you’re battling a tight deadline at work or need to manage a high conflict situation, take thirty seconds to do some deep breathing exercises. Inhale for a count of five, and then exhale for that same five count. Or, imagine your torso is a glass of water—your inhale fills the glass from the bottom (your lower stomach) all the way to the top (the top of your chest). The exhale empties it. Even after just a few breaths you’ll notice your heart rate starting to slow, reestablishing a sense of ease and calm.
3. Stay Present
If you’re anything like me, part of the reason you’re stressed is because there are so many things going on in your life. You’ve got twenty things to juggle at one time for work, ten different social media outlets that you follow in your spare time, friends and family to spend time with, household chores—the list goes on and on. That leads to a lot of multi-tasking, which I could argue creates some of the stress we feel every day. Harvard conducted a study in 2010 that showed people spend 46.9% of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they are doing, and that this generally makes them unhappy. A wandering mind is not a happy mind, nor is it the most productive. Staying present not only allows you to devote your entire self to any activity, but it also prevents quick trigger reactions that could have negative results. So when you find yourself in a high-stress situation, take a step back, analyze the situation, do some deep breathing for a minute or two, and then react. You’ll probably find yourself making much more calm and calculated decisions as a result.
These are just a handful of ways to easily introduce a little more relaxation into your daily life, and there are countless others that do the trick just as well—maybe better! Let us know how you manage stress in your life in the comments.