5 Tips How to Get Relaxed Quick’n’easy and Reduce Stress in our Life
Our lives are often busy and sometimes even stressful. At work: too many projects, not enough or not good enough people in our team, back to back meeetings, our boss doesn’t like the latest performance numbers… At home: kids fighting with each other, various competing afterschool activities that require mom or dad becoming full time drivers, which school is the best? Big topics mixed-up with mundane everyday issues. Everyone of us can find many different reasons for feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Stress brings anxiety, stomach problems and tension in our muscles. If we are under long term or even permanent stress, we might get ill in a serious way. How to tackle stress then?
Our today’s modern society unfortunately operates with stress somehow ‘built-in’: over-abundance of information, over-abundance of options, over-abundance of decisions to be made. Unless you chose to leave the city behind and hide in the jungle, there is no option to completely remove stress from our life. So, we have to learn how to live with stress and manage competing priorities. I was for many years in challenging corporate jobs around the world, long hours in the office, time pressure, responsibility, global travel all of which brought unavoidably stress to my life. I guess that I have so far managed quite well, so let me share my experience how to help handle stress with 5 simple, no or low-cost tips.
Let’s not worry about time management or self-improvement today (I am sure you read at least dozen books already…) and focus instead on relaxation. Why? Stress is generated by our mind as a response to external or internal events. One can even argue that stress is completely self-imposed because events just happen and if we get stressed or not depends entirely on us. Possible evidence of my thought is that a particular situation like e.g. highly venomous snake in the garden causes stress and even panic reaction in most of us while some remain pretty calm, catch the snake and take it away. The same applies to more realistic and daily situations, for example some people are able to manage multiple challenging projects at work with grace and others freak out. Any situation can be approached calmly or generate anxiety depending on person’s experience, state of mind, preparedness for the situation.
One way how to reduce stress in our lives is targeted, mindful relaxation. It does not mean that relaxed person can’t experience stress but usually not with frightening intensity or not so often.
How to relax?
If we could take one year sabbatical and move to a cave in the mountains, of course that might work! 🙂 Not sure if we’d ever come back though… Fortunately there are several easy ways that are available to all of us, cost nothing, can be done anywhere, anytime and take between 3 to 30 minutes.
Tip #1: 3 minutes of slow abdominal breathing
Take aside 3 minutes (not much!) from your busy agenda, close your eyes and start breathing slowly into your belly. You can count to four on inhale and then prolong the exhale counting to eight. Doesn’t have to be eight, the idea is longer exhale than inhale. Focus your mind on the breath. Try for 3 minutes, you can of course do more. You will be surprised how such abdominal breathing creates calmness and restores your balance. Your heart beat slows down, your mind concentrates on breath and stops jumping around from one topic to another. You can use this tip anytime you feel stressed or overwhelmed, anytime there is a situation that requires to pause and think how to best sort out.
Tip #2: 5 mindful minutes in the morning
After you wake up, spend another 5 minutes in bed (or you can go outside to a balcony or garden if that’s available to you), close your eyes and spend 5 minutes just breathing and enjoying your calm moment in the morning, before everyday rush starts. If any idea comes to your mind, let it arrive but don’t follow, don’t start thinking, just let it come and go, get back to focus on your breath. Again, a powerful but easy practice to start your day in the right way.
Tip #3: 10 minutes targeted body relaxation routine
Lay on your back or sit in your chair whatever you feel like or is feasible in that moment. Close your eyes and imagine you are inside of your body. Walk step-by-step, very slowly and deliberately through the body and try to feel which part is relaxed and which tense. You can start with your heels, move up to calfs, knees, thighs, pelvis, abdomen, spine, chest, arms, neck and finish with your head. Or vice-versa, start at the top and move towards your heels. When you observe that certain muscle is relaxed, slowly move your attention to the next body part. If you feel there is a tension, use your focus and mindfully relax that particular muscle. Sometimes it works to relax all muscles, sometimes you may struggle, but overall you will be amazed how powerful relaxation such ‘walk through the body’ brings.
Tip #4: 20 minutes nap after lunch
I guess this is my favorite 😉 Of course, you can’t always manage, I know! Our granddads probably haven’t done many days without an afternoon nap. There is a clear evidence that a short snooze is beneficial for our health and overall well-being. I was recently in the Avast headquarters in Prague – they even have such ‘nap room’ with hammocks in the office! You don’t want to move into a deep sleep, so set an alarm on your phone for 20 minutes and just go for it.
Tip #5: 30 minutes back or foot massage
Massage provides another powerful way how to relax. Perhaps you don’t have a chance every day but I would argue that massage should be an important part of our self-care. You work hard, you take care of your family, you deserve to take care of yourself. There are massage studios now all over the world in every big city, so you can take a quick bite and then spend 30 minutes from your lunch break with a nice foot massage. Why not? I strive to have a full body massage once every week, great way how to remove tension from your muscles (and mind).
I am convinced that these five tips will help you to get relaxed quick’n’easy and get rid of that stress next time your kids are again not brushing their teeths in the morning or your boss is yelling at you for forgetting about monthly closing.
There might of course be other ways how to get relaxed. What do you use? Please do share in the comments (or send me an email), I always enjoy hearing back from you and of course other readers might benefit as well.
Have a great, ‘no-stress’ day!
PS: Btw if you like to learn how it feels to move from ‘city to jungle’, my wife started an irregular blog on www.citytojungle.com about our life in Bali, with some funny stories about snakes in the garden and how to get things done in a place where everybody thinks that if something is not finished today, another day comes tomorrow…