I’ve worked in a variety of job setting over the years, and me being me, stress was a common factor in all of them. From daycare to detention deputy, it didn’t matter. I stressed over everything. Now that I’m an author and am able to work from home, you’d think stress wouldn’t be as much of an issue. After all, I set my own schedule, rules to accomplishing my goals, can work around social, church, and family obligations, right? Did I say, me being me? Lol. I stress over everything, and when stress takes over, nothing get accomplished.
In my search for ways to de-stress and ground myself, I ran across some great steps to relaxation on WebMD. They've helped me not only with pressing situations, but to clear my mind and focus when my creativity and imagination seemed blocked. And there's nothing worse for a writer than to have that happen. I’d like to share some of them with you.
Meditate – Herbert Benson, MD, author of The Relaxation Response and director emeritus of Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine says that any repetitive action can be a source of meditation: Walking, swimming, knitting—any activity that helps keep your attention calmly in the present moment. When you catch yourself thinking about your job, relationship, or that lifelong to-do list, let the thought escape, and bring your mind back the repetition of the activity. Try it for just 5 to 10 minutes a day.
Visualize – If your mind is too talkative to meditate (and mine seems to stay that way), try creating a peaceful visualization, or "dreamscape." To start, visualize anything that keeps your thoughts away from current tensions. It could be a favorite vacation spot, a fantasy island, or something touchable, like the feel of your favorite silk robe or cozy sweater.
Take Deep Breaths – When you’re tense, your breathing becomes shallow. Joan Borysenko, PhD, director of Harvard's Mind-Body Clinical Programs suggests, “Let out a big sigh, dropping your chest, and exhaling through gently pursed lips. Now imagine your low belly, or center, as a deep, powerful place. Feel your breath coming and going as your mind stays focused there. Inhale, feeling your entire belly, sides and lower back expand. Exhale, sighing again as you drop your chest, and feeling your belly, back and sides contract. Repeat 10 times, relaxing more fully each time.”
Focus on the Present – “Mindfulness is the here-and-now approach to living that makes daily life richer and more meaningful," says Claire Michaels Wheeler, MD, PhD, author of 10 Simple Solutions to Stress. Mindfulness means focusing on one activity at a time instead of juggling all those thoughts in your head. No multi-tasking! Staying in the present-tense can provide a buffer against anxiety and depression.
Practice it by focusing on your surroundings. If you're outdoors, notice the intricate shape of flowers, listen to the varying pitches in a bird's call, or the path of an ant on a tree. In the mall, examine a piece of jewelry, focus on how it's made, or check out every detail of pattern on a piece of furniture. As long as you can keep your mind focused on something in the present, stress will take a back seat.
Show Love – Psychologist Deborah Rozman, PhD, co-author of Transforming Stress recommends inducing the relaxation response by cuddling your pet, giving an unexpected hug to a friend or family member, cuddling with your spouse, or talking to a friend about the good things in your lives. When you do, you'll be reducing your stress levels. “Experts say social interaction helps your brain think better, encouraging you to see new solutions to situations that once seemed impossible,” she says. Studies have also shown that physical contact—like petting your dog or cat—may help lower blood pressure and decrease stress hormones.
Take a Time-Out – Brantley, MD, author of Five Good Minutes In the Evening, suggests finding a quiet place to sit or lie down and put the stressful situation on hold. Take a few deep breaths and concentrate on releasing tension and calming your heartbeat. Quiet your mind and remember: Time is always on your side, so relax. The stress can wait.
Take a Musical Detour - Music can calm the heartbeat and soothe the soul, the experts say. So, when the going gets rough, take a musical stress detour by aligning your heartbeat with the slow tempo of a relaxing song. And research shows that listening to 30 minutes of classical music may produce calming effects equivalent to taking 10 mg of Valium. Hmm. I have some friends that might argue that the classicals only irritate them, but there you are. Lol. If that’s the case, try a soft ballad. *wink*
Think Positive - Thirty seconds is enough time to shift your heart's rhythm from stressed to relaxed, Rozman says. The way to do that: Engage your heart and your mind in positive thinking. Start by envisioning anything that triggers a positive feeling—a memory of your child or spouse, the image of your pet, that great piece of jewelry you're saving up to buy, a memento from a vacation. It will help slow breathing and tense muscles. Rozman says that creating a positive emotional attitude can also calm and steady your heart rhythm, contributing to feelings of relaxation and peace.
And my own little addition...
Laugh - Laughter releases feel-good energies. Yeah, I'm no expert on how to explain it and I'm sure there's a great technical term for it all, but try laughing at the situation...and yourself. Pause, look around you, realize you can't do it all at once and just laugh. If you have to, remember the silly picture I'm sharing with you here. *wink*
I hope these tips help give you in those tense overpowering moments when it seems there are just too many things to do, too many people counting on you, too much crowding your mind. Let me know how they work for you. Do you have any favorite stress relievers? Please do share!
~ * ~
Posted by Paranormal Romance author Charlene A. Wilson.