How to relax and manage your stress
By Richard Ryland*
age-well.org > reduce stress > relaxation tips
This article is about relaxation and gives some useful relaxation tips. It is mainly a helicopter view designed to whet the appetite and point the reader to a possible solution. In modern day living we get stressed. Our mind becomes cluttered by thoughts of things we must do and things we must remember. For the treatment of stress see our Age Well article on Stress Busting.
The central aim of relaxation is to divert your attention and perception towards relaxing. What will work for you can only be found by you trying the methods suggested here? You will read this and think I do not have time for this? You must make time, stress can kill you or severely degrade your health status. The graveyards are full of indispensable people.
Most people who are stressed abuse alcohol. Problem is you have, say, a glass of wine and feel relaxed, then two to be more relaxed and so on. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. It will tend to make you depressed or dis-inhibited. Alcohol will dehydrate and is only a quick fix, not a long term solution. If you use alcohol for relaxation, one moderate drink only per day, more and you are simply abusing alcohol. Follow the relaxation tips in this article and perhaps your need to use alcohol for relation will abate.
If you are already having problems with alcohol abuse, see Age-well's article on How to Cut Down Your Alcohol Intake.
Moderate exercise for many is great. The moderate exercise should preferably be making you just slightly out of breath. As a minimum, moderate exercise for a stressed person is half an hour per day. Recommended exercise relaxation tips by Age Well are swimming or power walking. Going to regular keep fit sessions are good as are Keep Fit videos/DVD’s etc. Some find Yoga very relaxing and Yoga helps mobility and suppleness. For more information on exercise see Age-well's article Exercise Well.
Making love is a good stress buster, especially if you have a loving and understanding partner with whom you can share passion and affection. However, if you have too much stress, you may become incapable. In order to find relaxation through sexual activity it is necessary to be in a state of acceptance of one's sexuality and fantasies. If you have any hang-ups about sex resulting from childhood experiences or conditioning or suffer anxiety resulting from past failure to perform, now might be a good time to consult a sexologist or a health professional who is used to helping people through those problems.
For those who are not lucky enough to have a partner, masturbation is one option to experience sexual pleasure and relieve tension, provided that no feelings of guilt are attached to this activity. There again, a sympathetic health worker can help you through such hang-ups.
This is one of our relaxation tips that might not be for everyone but many people find meditation helpful. A simple demonstration of this you can try is when stressed get yourself a lighted candle in a darkened room. Sit comfortable about half a meter to a meter away. Stare at the candle. When you have the image firmly fixed in your mind, close your eyes and imagine the image of the candle. Keep opening your eyes every time you lose the image of the candle from your mind. If you wish you can set an alarm after half an hour. What are you doing? You are focusing attention on producing an image of a candle light. The effect should be to give your mind a rest. If this works for you maybe you want to try a book on meditation techniques.
As seen with the above example, meditation can be simple. Breathing and relaxation techniques are simple to learn. Focusing on taking deep, cleansing breaths is another example of a powerful relaxation technique.
No article on relaxation tips should omit to mention holidays or vacations. Holidays are a great way to relax. The holiday must be designed to focus your attention away from work or problems. Unfortunately you need two weeks vacation to really wind down and chances are you feel great afterwards, but unless you have other relaxation weapons in your armory, you will probably feel just as stressed within a week or two of returning to work or problems.
Some people find a day in nature or even a theme park is relaxing. Remember always to focus your attention away from problems and concentrate on what is going on around you. There is something about being close to nature which many people find deeply relaxing. Many find that being near water and listening to the sound of waves crashing on the beach or a babbling brook or water lapping against a boat, relieves their tension.
Going to see a good film or a play or to the opera or ballet can fulfill the same goal, as can going to see or participate in your favorite sporting activity. Sharing a glass of wine with friends, going out for dinner and above all laughing can all be excellent distractions to the stresses of everyday life.
Hobbies for some people are a life saver. Again the common element is focusing attention on something else aside from stressful stuff. Preferably for a hobby choose something which is different from your everyday life and most important commands your attention. Hobbies with exercise are best, say dancing? Or singing? Or hiking. If you are, say, a motor mechanic and you get plenty of exercise try something completely different like water color painting.
There are Sounds of Nature and Panpipes and all sorts of relaxing music, written for relaxation. By all means try some but remember the sound must focus your attention totally to get you relaxing. Do this and nothing else, if possible. If the sound of heavy metal rock music is what gets your attention, that is fine. Some people will prefer Panpipes, that is fine too but it must command attention for it to be relaxing.
Before the discovery of major tranquilizing drugs hot (but not scalding) baths were used to calm down excited patients. A long hot bath is good as long as you concentrate on the bath. The experience can be tweaked to more easily focus your attention if you have jets or air swirling the water. Also aromatherapy oils, such as Lavender, may assist relaxation. Music whilst bathing can also help distract. Try a lighted and scented candle in the bathroom and turn out the electric light while you concentrate on relaxing.
Be careful when getting out of the bath, make sure you have a bathmat so you don't slip on the floor and, if the hot water makes you light-headed, lie down for a while, or make sure the water is less hot, the next time you use this method to relax. For more information see Age-well's article on the benefits of a warm bath.
It is possible to buy on the Internet relaxation voice tracks perhaps combined with music which can help people relax. Many of these relaxation tracks are done by hypnotists. Do not be alarmed. Hypnotists are very good at focusing your attention and teaching you techniques to achieve progressive muscle relaxation. Many are worth a try.
Hypnotism as a subject is an article in itself. However, if you are in need of a quick way of relaxing then Hypnotism could be for you. Hypnotism is open to abuse. To reduce the risk make sure the Hypnotist is trained and regulated. Take a friend or relative with you.
You may care to read Michelle Botes's article on Sophrology which is a method of relaxation which uses meditation techniques using progressive muscle relaxation to put the subject into a trance-line state where positive visualization can have a positive influence on the subconscious mind.
In conclusion relaxing is re-focusing your attention away from work or home problems. It may be necessary to spend time being alone, particularly if that assist’s refocusing attention. Some people can just relax but most people actually need to plan a time for relaxation. Whilst moderate exercise has been mentioned, it is worth stressing here. Moderate, regular exercise will help keep you fit and supple, will tend to reduce blood pressure, increase circulation and ensure you do not tire easily. Regular, moderate exercise increases stamina and assists sleeping at night.
For more relaxation tips, read Jane by Jane Arnaud's stress busting article:-
Do you want to reduce stress? - Tension and how to cope with it.
Other relaxation tips you might find useful can be found here: Relaxation Tips and Techniques or follow the links below:-
Sophrology - Coping with tension the natural way
Massage Therapy-Learning about the health benefits
of massage therapy for tension relief
Combatting tension through the benefits of a warm bath
Reduce tension and keep fit by Walking
How to Deal With Social Stress at Work When You Have Complex PTSD
age-well.org > reduce stress > relaxation tips
*Richard K Ryland is a former Registered Mental Nurse, General Nurse and Nurse Teacher from the United Kingdom. Richard also holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Master of Science in Nursing.
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