5: Make time for fun and relaxation.
Beyond a taking-control approach and a positive attitude you can reduce stress in your life by nurturing yourself. If you regularly make time for fun and relaxation you’ll be in a better place to handle life’s stressors when they inevitably come.
Healthy ways to relax and recharge:
• Go for a walk
• Spend time with nature
• Phone or see a good friend
• Write a journal
• Take a bath
• Light scented candles
• Play with a pet
• Work in your garden
• Get a massage
• Read a good book
• Listen to music
• Watch a comedy
Don’t get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that you forget to take care of your own needs. Nurturing yourself is a necessity, not a luxury. If you don’t recharge your own light you can’t give it to others and may even need to take some of theirs.
• Set aside relaxation time – Include rest and relaxation in your daily schedule. Don’t allow other obligations to encroach. This is your time to take a break from all responsibilities and recharge your batteries.
• Connect with others – Spend time with positive people who enhance your life. A strong support system will protect you from the negative effects of stress.
• Do something you enjoy every day – Make time for leisure activities that you enjoy, whether it be reading, playing the piano, or walking/cycling.
• Keep your sense of humour – This includes the ability to laugh at yourself. The act of laughing helps your body fight stress.
Learn the relaxation response.
You can control your stress levels with relaxation techniques that evoke the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the opposite of the stress response. Regularly practicing these techniques will build your physical and emotional resilience, heal your body, and boost your overall feelings of joy and equanimity.
Find a quiet place and a comfortable chair.
Start by concentrating on your breathing. Breathe in through your nose deeply making sure your tummy rises and your lungs fill with air. When you breathe out make your out breath is longer than your in breath. This automatically makes you start to relax. Do this 4 times then breathe normally but slowly still making your out breath longer than your in breath.
Relax your muscles. You may be able to do this by concentrating on each muscle group in turn and consciously relaxing them, starting with your feet and working up. Imagine the tension flowing out of your body through your toes and fingers. If this is too difficult, clench each muscle group in turn for 10 seconds then allow them to relax.
Imagine a place where you feel safe and comfortable. Think about what you can see, hear, feel, and touch in detail. Think about how you feel psychologically in this place. If other thoughts come into your mind, push them away – remind yourself you can think about that later, this is your relaxation time – then carry on thinking about your safe place.
Stay like this as long as you can until you feel calmer.