10 Ways to Destress

Posted on April 30, 2014

Did you know that all the stress you experience is self-created? That's because the stressful thoughts come from your own mind, and nobody else's.

They're your thoughts. as such, you decide what effect they have on your mind state. Either you let them run roughshod all over you, or you call the shots. So the first thing you need to do when a stressful thought arises is to recognise it's just a thought, and let it go.

How do you do it?

1. Meditate

It's the best way to become expert at watching every little thing you think and noticing what's not helpful (e.g. all those panicky thoughts) before it's too late, and your mind is mired in worry.

So here's what to do: every day, either first thing or just before bed, whatever time works best for you, find a quiet place, relax your body, clear your mind and simply focus on your own breathing for 10 to 20 distraction-free minutes.

In ... out ... here ... now ... breathe ... and just be. Learn more about the amazing benefits of meditation and mindfulness from experts Dr Mark Greenberg, Dr Amy Saltzman and Shamash Alidina at Mind & Its Potential 2012.

2. Get enough sleep

Inadequate sleep, whether it's too little, irregular or broken, is one of the main reasons people stress out. Is it any wonder? A good night's sleep is essential for good health.

Here are some tips to help with snoozing:

• Don't treat your bedroom like a play station. Beds are for sleeping so ban all electronic and mobile devices.

• If you're struggling to drop off, relaxation, mental imagery or meditation can be helpful.

• Avoid stimulants such as coffee, tea and chocolate at least a couple of hours before bedtime. Alcohol is another no-no. It might be easier to drop off after a few wines but its overall effect is negative because it fragments your sleeping making you wake up more often.

• Keep your bedroom a little on the cool side, as a slight drop in body temperature is more conducive to sleep.

• Don't panic if you suffer from occasional insomnia. Excessive worry in this regard may just make sleeplessness worse.

3. Exercise

Light to moderate exercise is one of the best ways to de-stress your body and mind. That's because your body releases feel-good chemicals whenever you physically exert yourself. You know yourself how much better you feel, and more able to cope with whatever the world throws at you, after you work up a little sweat.

Not only that, moderate, regular physical exercise also promotes relaxation and good sleep. Activities such as brisk walking, aerobics, swimming, cycling and jogging for about 20 minutes at least three times a week are all you have to do ... although it's even better if you can manage something daily.

Any exercise at all is good for the body, as long as it's light to moderate. Two simple rules of moderate exertion are:

• Work up only a light sweat (or 'glow')

• Don't exhaust yourself to the point of breathlessness i.e. you're no longer able to speak.

4. Talk positively to yourself

"I have to be perfect."

"Something bad might happen so I might as well worry about it now."

"People must love me no matter what."

"If something goes wrong and I could've prevented it, then it's my fault.

"This is a total disaster!"

If this sounds like you, no wonder you're stressed. Thinking patterns like these – including a tendency to exaggerate the impact of events, or 'catastrophise' – means that you're likely to experience even minor personal failings and problems as major setbacks. And because you worry about the future, there's no let-up – even when things are going swimmingly.

One antidote is cognitive behaviour therapy, a major approach in psychology based on the premise that negative feelings and emotions are created by our irrational thoughts and beliefs.

Talk positively to yourself Given this, a primary strategy is identifying and challenging the negative thoughts and beliefs with more realistic alternatives, such as "I'm imperfect like everyone else", "I don't love everybody so why should everybody love me?" and "Will this really matter on my deathbed?"

Fortunately, there are lots of resources available including books and courses on the subject, as well as therapists trained in the discipline, to help you perfect the habit of talking positively to yourself.

5. Just Breathe

Have you noticed that you're breathing too fast? Stress and anxiety can affect your heart rate and breathing patterns. A relaxed breathing rate is usually 10 to 12 breaths per minute.

Need a short-term coping strategy? Practise this exercise three to four times a day when you're feeling strung out.

1. Time the number of breaths you take in one minute. Breathing in, then out is counted as one breath.

2. Breathe in, hold your breath and count to five. Then breathe out and say the word 'relax' to yourself in a calm, soothing manner.

3. Start breathing in through your nose and out slowly through your mouth, in a six-second cycle. Breathe in for three seconds and out for three seconds. This will produce a breathing rate of 10 breaths per minute. In thebeginning, it can be helpful to time your breathing using the second hand of a watch or clock.

4. Count to yourself.

5.Continue breathing in a six-second cycle for at least five minutes or until the symptoms of overbreathing have settled.

After practising this exercise, time the number of breaths you take in one minute. Practise the slow breathing exercise each day before breakfast, lunch, dinner and bedtime. Use the technique whenever you feel anxious. Gradually, you'll be familiar enough with the exercise to stop timing yourself.

Click on the link below to download the full guide

Category(s):Meditation, Stress Management

Source material from Think