Stress and Relaxation
Stress empties you. It depletes your energy levels and exhausts you. Learn how to find things that fill you up again.
As a counselor I understand the importance of stress relief and relaxation. Our society makes it hard because it's always pushing us to go go go. We even forget how to take a good deep breath. Stress takes a toll on our bodies: it's related to numerous health concerns. When we are stressed and don’t take a break we are unable to function at our full capacity.
Make time to relax and breathe
If you say “are you kidding? I don’t have time for that:”
- Write a list during the day of all the things you have to do and all the activities you don’t have to do but you take on anyways
- Think through the day: was there anything you agreed to do but don't have the time?
- Did you agree to do anything only to regret it later?
- Organize your day: how are you the most productive?
Once you have the time:
- Do what fills you up: If you have hobbies or things you like to do, try to include them in a daily or weekly routine
- Get out: go for walks, get a leisurely coffee or tea
- Have something to look forward to: make future plans to help get you through it all.
- Get sleep: 7- 8 hours a day makes a huge difference
If you find that you still lack the time or there are certain moments in the day when your stress spikes or you find you can’t sleep at night because you can’t shut your brain off, try these relaxation exercises:
Locked Trunk Exercise
Find a quiet space in your house and practice doing some deep breathing from you diaphragm. Imagine that you are in a room and in the corner of the room there is a locked chest and you are the only one with the key. Walk over to the imaginary chest, open it and pull out a huge blanket. Lay the blanket out and imagine that you are putting all of your stress and anxieties on the blanket. Now imagine folding it up, putting it in the trunk, closing the lid, locking it and walking away.
Imagine your favorite peaceful space. Maybe it's the ocean, a favorite room in your house, or your backyard. Imagine all of your worries and cares floating away. You are in your favorite spot and nothing else matters. Take a few deep breaths and imagine what the surroundings are. Maybe you are by the ocean and the water is a glittering blue and green. Take about three more deep breaths and start thinking about what you would hear, like waves crashing onto the sand. Next think about what you might feel. Do you feel the sun on your face, sand under your feet? What else are you experiencing? Sit there in your favorite place as long as you need.
Press your palms together (muscle relaxation)
Press your palms together and imagine pushing the stress and the anxiety in-between your hands when you are arms get tried, imagine throwing away the stress and anxiety. Shake it out (do not try if you have shoulder or arm pain).
If you realize that stress may be an issue for you or you don't know how to relax, you might find counseling helpful. Through setting boundaries, working on time management and possible control issues, you can learn to relax and breathe again!