When you feel tied up in knots, there are countless things you can do to lift your spirits and diffuse your tension. Be good to yourself. Not only do you deserve it, but you need it.
1. Calming Breath: This is a fundamental relaxation technique that all stress types should practice. You have probably taken a deep breath before plunging into something – a difficult conversation, serving a tennis ball, trying not to cry. This will work while standing in line, sitting at your desk or preparing a meal. When you sigh, you are unconsciously using a relaxation technique by inhaling more air than usual and exhaling. Breathing deeply has a calming and centering effect, and you can do it anyplace, anytime for a quick fix for acute stress.
2. Smile or Laugh: When you smile or laugh, endorphins are released from the brain. These endorphins are naturally produced chemicals that make a person feel good. A hearty laugh can also give the body an internal workout. The process of laughing instigates a cycle that makes you breathe faster and makes your muscles tense. Then your muscles relax, your breathing slows and your heart rate decreases. Smiling and laughing allows you to connect with something other than tension or stress, so think of a fond memory or focus on someone or something that makes you happy.
3. People Watch: Take a moment to enjoy the energy and excitement occurring right in front of you. During your lunch break or while running errands is a great time to let go of yourself, take in your surroundings and watch others. Even if just for a moment, this will help you to refresh and regroup.
4. Go Nuts Over Chocolate: To boost your brain and calm stress, eat a handful of walnuts and a piece of dark chocolate. Walnuts are full of omega-3s, essential fatty acids that elevate the mood, and tryptophan, an amino acid that, when combined with dark chocolate, provides your brain with the soothing effects of the beloved anti-stress messenger serotonin.
5. Listen to Music or Flip Through a Magazine: Sometimes allowing yourself to be distracted momentarily is a helpful way to refocus in moments where you feel stress building up. By withdrawing your senses from life’s demands and what is troubling you, you can gain control over your attention. Honing in on the music playing in a store or flipping through a magazine while in the checkout line is a great way to relieve whatever might be provoking stress in the moment.