Stress can come on suddenly and not necessarily at the most convenient time. In moments of palpable stress, when your head is about to explode and there’s not a hot tub or a massage therapist in sight, arm yourself with these simple relaxation techniques to help you turn a bad situation into one of amazing grace.
- Stop and Breathe. In through the nose . . . out through the mouth. Make your inhalations the same length as your exhalations. Close your eyes and take long, slow breaths as your mind focuses on the expansion of your chest, back and belly. Listen to the slow steady beat of your heart. 10 deep breaths will help turn your tension into relaxation.
- Give your body relaxation ques. Sometimes your body needs permission to relax. Do this by releasing your facial muscles and making your eyes wide and hollow. Drop your shoulders. Roll your neck. Un-cross your legs and sit back with your arms at your sides. Smile. Self-massage is another option. Keep a Stress Ball and a Backnobber or Jacknobber in your purse or car for on-the-spot stress relief.
- See the Humor. Whatever the situation, try to lighten the moment with a new perspective – preferably one that involves humor. Even if the humor is only realized internally (think funny thoughts) you’ll feel some relief. And if appropriate, please share the humor. A good laugh does wonders to relieve stress. And your peers, family and friends will thank you for your ability to diffuse difficult or uncomfortable situations.
- Do the opposite. We condition ourselves to react to people and situations the same way over and over. What if you reacted completely differently (i.e. positively) to a problem or moment that would normally evoke a negative comment or reaction? It’s akin to ‘picking your battles’. Next time something comes up that would normally make you snap, try going the opposite direction. Try shrugging it off, making it a non-issue. This “do the opposite” technique works on people too. If you are forced to spend time with someone you aren’t fond of, try acting as if you are happy to see them. Who knows, maybe something positive will come of it!
- Eat some sugar. Not a lot of sugar, or your mood may go up and then sink lower than before. Suck on a hard candy, for instance. Sugar might just the ticket if low blood sugar is making you cranky. Sometimes a little serotonin reaction (feel-good hormone) is all you need to get through. Diabetics, don’t listen to me if you are not supposed to have the sugar.
- Give a hug, get a hug. Physical contact will decrease stress hormones and make you feel loved and connected. Even if you have to hug your cat, do it. When hugging a human, attempt to deepened the connection with a sincere grasp . . . squeeze. . . and then a reluctant release. No back pats. Be firm. Sincere. Practice.
- Punch something and/or scream. That’s punch something, not someone and make sure you hit something soft so you don’t hurt yourself. Of course, never hit a pet or a person. Go for a pillow if possible. A (silent) rebel yell can also make you feel better in seconds. Make sure you’re alone if you want to yell for real. You might scare someone.
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Have a stress-free day!