Cut Stress Now…16 Quick Relaxation Techniques

1.     Practice the six-second release exercise. Anywhere, anytime you feel tense, inhale deeply for two seconds, then exhale for four seconds. Say to yourself, “I’m relaxing.” Let your shoulders and jaw drop. A wave of relaxation will flow downward.

2.     Watch less TV. Do not aimlessly channel surf. Do not watch violent or depressing shows. Look through the television listings, and carefully select programs to watch. Emphasize uplifting, educational programs.

3.     Don’t take work home…or take home to work. “Decompress” as you make the transition from one part of your life to another — so distress from one doesn’t spill into the other. Sing along with the radio…take a walk…nap…soak in a tub.

4.     Look for humor in every situation. Take yourself lightly and your work seriously. Read fun things–comics, cartoons, jokes–and share them with others.

5.     Cultivate a “can-do” attitude. As Norman Vincent Peale once said, “You are not what you think you are…but, what you think, you are.”

6.    Stop assuming the worst. If someone cuts you off on the highway, don’t automatically assume that the person is out to get you. Maybe he/she is rushing to the hospital to see a loved one who is desperately ill.

7.     Take a 10 minute break. At least once every hour, get up from your chair, stretch and move around. Doing so will help prevent stiffness and tension.

8.     Listen to relaxing music. Spend your day listening to instrumental classical or New Age music.                           

9.     “Box” your worries. Categorize your worries into things you can/cannot control and things that are important/unimportant. If something is important and you can do something about it, take action. If it’s unimportant and/or you can’t do anything about it, let the worry go.

10.    Take a one-minute vacation. Pause to enjoy life’s small, fleeting pleasures–the fragrance of a flower…the burbling of a brook…the tranquil beauty of freshly fallen snow…the cozy aroma of a wood fire. Notice and try to enjoy whatever is around you.

11.     Practice “dot therapy.” Place adhesive dots wherever you need a cue to relax–on your car’s rearview mirror…on your telephone…on your computer monitor. Whenever you spy a dot do the six-second release exercise. (Refer to #1)

12.     Get an aromatic high. Bring flowers to work. Diffuse essential oils. Floral fragrances reduce anxiety (even in the dentist’s office)…cool, menthol-like scents boosts energy…lavender is relaxing.

13.     Boost your ego. Carry a 3×5-inch card on which you’ve written all your good points. Whenever you start to feel overwhelmed, look at the card. Ask those who care about you to contribute to your list.

14.    Set realistic goals–and envision yourself reaching them. If you’re a salesperson, visualize yourself closing a deal with the client you’re scheduled to see that day. You’ll be less anxious when you go into the meeting.

15.    Pet a dog or cat. Doing so tends to lower heart rate and blood pressure–your own and those of the animal being petted.

16.     Choose to be happy. Abraham Lincoln once said, “Most folks are about as happy as they choose to be.” Each day, make a conscious effort to emphasize the positive and disregard the negative. Choose happiness day after day, and it soon becomes a habit.

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