let your hair down
take a breather
let off some steam
take it easy
or just plain old…
All these words/ expressions have similar meanings…
Seven Secrets to Stress-Free Joy
Stress, tension, frustration…ever experience these?
Silly question, I know.
We all feel stressed from time to time; it’s part of being human. And we certainly feel frustrated. But as common as these feelings are, there are simple things we can do to ease them, even erase them in some cases. Seven such gems are below.
Create a CD of Your Favorite Songs
Listening to your favorite music not only takes your mind off of your worries but also reduces blood pressure and a rapid heart beat. Because music is so closely tied to memory, listening to music brings to mind happy memories, which in turn affects the part of the brain that regulates these and other automatic physical responses. So make a list of your 15 favorite songs, visit an online music store to download each one, and create your very own stress-busting CD.
Control Your Breathing
Stressful situations lead to short and shallow breathing, which in turn leads to an increased heart rate and creates feelings of tension and anxiety. To reverse these effects and reduce your stress, completely empty your lungs with a large sigh. Then, breathe in deeply from your belly on up, hold your breath, and exhale slowly. You may want to follow the 4-7-8 rule. (4-second inhale, 7-second hold, 8-second exhale.) This simple exercise sends better oxygen content to your cells, improving your health and ridding yourself of the tension and stress.
Studies by Dr. Lee Berk and Dr. Stanley Tan have found that laughter ‘lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, increases muscle flexion, and boosts immune function.’ It also triggers the release of endorphins, which act as the body’s natural painkillers and produce a sense of well- being. The lesson? Laugh! Expose yourself to humor as often as possible through jokes, funny stories, comic strips taped up in your office, or anything else that makes you laugh.
Make Your List
Even though you may not realize it, there are most likely specific situations that cause stress time and again. By putting your finger on exactly what they are, you can begin to fix or avoid the things that constantly add stress and tension to your life. Get out a sheet of paper and a pencil. Begin by thinking back to stressful times and what specific things caused them. Then, keep the list handy for two weeks and record the cause of any stress you experience during that period. After two weeks, create a master list of stress causers and spend time thinking of specific remedies for each one. The solution may be as simple as taking a different route to work or getting up fifteen minutes earlier to handle tasks in the morning.
Focus on Now
Thinking about the next ten items on your list of things to do is enough to cause anyone stress. That’s why it’s vital that you focus on only one thing at a time.
Allowing only one task into your thoughts at a time – the one thing you are involved with right now – will improve your productivity, decrease mental mistakes, and relieve your mind of feeling overwhelmed as well as your body of feeling physically stressed out and drained.
Hold a Pencil between Your Teeth
A recent study at the University of California found most people have a set of ‘smile muscles’ which, when activated, send signals to your brain that you are happy. In turn, your brain releases the chemical that register happiness. In fact, you don’t even need to personally feel happy at the moment to create the internal response of happiness. Simply holding a pencil between your teeth can be enough to trick your brain into thinking you are happy and releasing the corresponding chemicals into your system.
Wake Up with the Sun
You’re sound asleep and dreaming peacefully. And then, out of nowhere, you’re shocked awake by the screeching of an buzzing alarm. It’s easy to see why such a routine can get things started off on the wrong foot. Instead of being startled every morning, try using natural light to wake you up. Studies have shown that the light of dawn alerts your body to wrap up your dreams, raises your body temperature, and begins releasing the hormones you need to function throughout the day. So leave the blinds open tonight and wake up with the sun. (Afraid of oversleeping? Keep an alarm nearby set to five minutes after your normal wake time. This way, if the sun doesn’t do its job on day, the alarm will.)
Author, Shifting the Balance