6 Ways to Reduce Stress

6 Ways to Reduce Stress

Of all the things that we should probably do for ourselves but don’t, thoughtful decompression has to be it. When I say that, I mean making your down time work for you. I think that in this world we are all stretched too thin. We’re exhausted, stress out, over-worked, and just tired. Our time off from our work is often just sitting on the couch soaking up whatever television images we see in front of us and because we’re so beat up from the week before, we call that down time. I beg to differ. I think that we can get more out of our time off, and in doing so we can relieve some of those things I mentioned before that we all suffer from. Here are some of my ideas for turning your time off into thoughtful decompression.

  • Take a Walk – I don’t mean walk out your front door and walk around your block. That doesn’t count! I mean do some research, find a really cool nature preserve or open space park that is near you and drive there. Bring some good music to listen to and walk without a purpose. Don’t tell yourself you just have to walk the loop of the path until you get back to your car. Just walk. Enjoy the beauty around you, relax your mind, and take in the simplicity of the moment.
  • Yoga – Yoga is a very calming exercise that requires a certain level of internal focus. Not only will a yoga session improve your overall muscle tone and flexibility, but it does pretty much the same thing for your mind. There are a lot of different types, so find one that suits your needs and personality. And Yoga doesn’t have to mean a class full of people at the gym. There are plenty of good yoga DVDs out there. Take a room in your house, transform it into a relaxing, peaceful setting, plop down your yoga mat and get started. I have to admit- the first time I did Yoga I didn’t get it. It didn’t move fast enough for me (I was always taking the crazy kill-yourself-in-under-an-hour classes at the gym). But, what I’ve learned to appreciate most about it is that during that time my mental focus turns inward; something I usually don’t have much time for.
  • Write in a journal – Find your favorite place at home. It could be simply your favorite chair, or it could be a beautiful sun room you might have. Make sure that the space you select is going to be free of people and noise for a while. Get a good spiral notebook (or a fancy journal) and start writing. There’s no right or wrong thing to write about. Sometimes people use this time to purge feelings that the’ve held in for a while because it’s not worth sharing aloud. Sometimes people write about what they want to accomplish next week. The time alone spent writing is another way to turn your mind inward and focus on yourself for a change.
  • A Nice, Long Bath – Fill the bath with good stuff. Maybe some aromatherapy (my favorites are citrus smells, lavender, and rose). Put in some bath salts or go crazy with bubbles. Light some candles, make yourself your favorite drink, and soak. I also think music is a good idea, provided you have a means to do that without trying to dangle a music player precariously along the edge of the bathtub!
  • Massage – This requires help from outside forces. And sometimes money. Two things that aren’t always wanted or available. If you happen to have a fantastic significant other who will do this for you, prepare a room, much like you would do for yoga- with candles, good smells, and ambiance. If you and your significant other are both feeling the effects of your week, this might be a great time to offer a trade and in the process give your relationship some much needed attention. The other option, if your pocketbook can swing it, is to go and get a massage from a spa. The massage places that pump them out all day long are less relaxing and feel more medicinal to me (as far as energy), so if you can find a spa nearby and go there.
  • Disappear – Now I realize that there may be someone who is counting on you in life, and by all means you should inform them of your plan before you leave, or make arrangements for them if they are too young to fend for themselves. Bring your phone, but turn it off. It’s only with you in case you need it. Here’s how this works. Load yourself up with some good music – music that makes you feel happy, hopeful, motivated and inspired. Try to avoid sad and angry songs for this. Get in your car one morning and start driving. Don’t have a destination in mind, and don’t have a time frame in mind either. I happen to live within 15 minutes of the Rocky Mountains, so I always head west and find myself on little winding roads and such. Where you live will dictate much about your drive and where you go, so just go with it! I don’t usually even feel the need to stop or get out anywhere, but let your drive take you wherever it wants to go. You may end up finding this cute little mom-and-pop diner, or a coffee shop you never knew about. Explore what you see and what you find, and do whatever seems like fun at that moment. There is something very enjoyable about spending a day with yourself, and knowing that in that moment, no one can interrupt that time.
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