Easy Ways to Overcome Stress

by Christopher Adams - Date: 2010-07-17 - Word Count: 1554 Share This!

One of the biggest problems facing people in modern society is that of stress. In anthropological terms, stress, as we understand it today, is a fairly new phenomena, and one that has increase exponentially over the last half century.

So why has stress become such a major issue in our time? With the rise of major cities and global communication, suddenly we are all very aware of ourselves as a comparison to each other. Competition within us to become the best has risen dramatically. It's no longer acceptable to most people to live in a small house near where they grew up, do a menial job that gives them a subsistent living, have 2.4 kids and a dog named Rover. Instead, we are constantly fighting to improve ourselves, our standing in society, our economical influence, our sexual attractiveness, our physique and every aspect of ourselves that can be outwardly measured. We have become a society of how much, fuelled by external comparisons perpetrated by magazines and television. We are the "Fight Club" generation, who can never get enough to make us feel better.

So how can we change it?

There are two main problems, essentially that cause our stress as outlined above. One is that we are constantly chasing external betterment and validation. Second is that as a result of the huge amount of pressure that fall upon us to do so we are constantly working, and fighting to improve our standing in every area of life. Be that improve our finances, get a better job, be thinner, look better, drive a better car, be a better husband, get better school grades etc. The list is endless and seemingly so is our workload. We never have time to stop and when we do, we don't know how to unwind and release the stress that our never ending running around has caused.

So let's look at each of these problems separately and see how we can deal with them.

Unwinding and Releasing Stress

It's worth looking at the second problem first, because most people have so little time in their daily lives that they need a method of releasing stress as quickly as possible.

If our problem is that we are constantly bombarding ourselves with information, external pressure and non-stop action, then it stands to reason that what we need in order to release from this is the exact opposite. So things like putting on the television or radio to de-stress actually don't help us. They are filled with adverts, competitions, and other external comparisons, that even if we don't realize it, cause our brains (at least at an unconscious level) to continue working on how we can be better at "beating the system". It's much better to watch a movie, or listen to a CD if you want to relax in this way.

Many people go to the gym to de-stress. This might sounds like a good idea, and it is a great activity to have in your daily life, but again it's filled with external comparisons both around you (in the form of other people) and in your own mind (why do most people go to the gym in the first place? Because they don't like their own bodies the way they are). Just as importantly, going to the gym is work, normally hard work at that. It's not relaxing. If you want to spend your time at the health club in order to relax, try having a sauna, or resting in a Jacuzzi, giving your mind and body time to shut down for a while. If you want to get some exercise as a way of relaxing, instead of pushing your body to its limits at the gym, go for a walk, preferably somewhere we pleasant scenery.

Essentially the way to think about this is, in order to de-stress and allow yourself to relax you have to be able to turn off all distractions of the hussle and bussle of daily life. Allow yourself to get back to your natural state of being.

The Health Spa Model

Think about health spas and relaxation resorts. There is a reason that they are normally secluded places away from daily life. They provide a break from it. They appeal to our desire for beauty with all our senses. They have relaxing smells and aromas throughout them, they offer you herbal teas and clean, natural foods. The often have either dimmed / candle lighting or light white empty visual appearances. There is normally soft gentle music (normal either classical or without words) playing at a low level. And they have soft luxurious furniture, that feel comfortable to sit in. With fresh towels provided all the time. Everything is done to help you stop, and slow down and enjoy the experience with all of your senses.

Doing this at home.

To replicate this at home it can be quite easy. Find a quiet time each day that you can allocate just to you and your relaxation. This can be as little as 10 or 15 minutes, the important thing is that this is undisturbed time just for you.

Next find a place in your house that is quiet, not somewhere that the kids are going to be running into midway through your relaxation. Turn off all electrical distractions; this includes your mobile phones, televisions, radios etc. If possible make this a place that you don't use for anything else on a regular basis, so that you don't have associations to it. If that's not possible then you can change your association to that place by rearranging the furniture or hanging some drapes etc. (For example, my relaxation area is my bedroom, but when I use it for relaxation or mediation, I move the couch to the edge of the room, I have a comfortable blanket I lie on the floor, and a couple of relaxing pictures I hang up on the wall replacing my normal photos, and I also have a small drape I hang over the TV. This gives the rooms a whole different feel and only takes about 2 minutes.)

Now set up your relaxation place to appeal to all of your senses.

Visual: Either dim the lights, or turn them off, and have candle lighting.

Audio: Put on some relaxing music. Try to make it something that's wordless, and not the radio. Leave it on a low setting so that it is background music.

Smells: You can use aromatherapy oils to give your room a relaxing smell. My personal favourite is Lavender. But use whatever smells you like that are naturally appealing to you.

Taste: If you are going to drink anything or eat anything during your relaxation time, try to make it healthy, and something that tastes refreshing. Such as herbal teas or water are idea for drinking. To eat, either fresh fruit or a salad (without dressing). These are all natural foods and drink. Don't overeat either. And also avoid taking any drugs into your system. By drugs, we mean anything that artificially changes your mind or body. This includes alcohol, pain killers, caffeine, salt, sugar and nicotine.

Feel: Give yourself something comfortable to sit on, a comfortable armchair, or silk sheets etc. If you are going to have a bath, ensure you have fresh towels and clean clothes to get into after.

Now your relaxation boudoir is ready for you… Only one thing remains, how are you going to relax in it?

How to relax and unwind

1) DO NOTHING - Although it is an alien concept to many people, one of the best ways to relax is to do just that. Relax and do nothing. Just sit there and enjoy the quiet, listen to the music, appreciate the smell, enjoy a herbal tea.

2) READ A BOOK - Most people's reading now days is limited to either work/ school reading, magazines and newspaper (that are filled with adverts, comparisons of you and other people, bitchiness and bad news). Instead try just reading a book, for no other reason that enjoying the read. The kind of book most people only read on holiday.

3) BE ARTISTIC - rarely do people find time in their lives to draw, paint, play music or even write, not for an end goal, but just for the process of enjoying it. Try doing one of these, but remember, it doesn't matter what it comes out like, it's all about just allowing your creative nature to flow through you and express yourself in the moment.

4) MASSAGE - although it's relaxation time, it doesn't mean it has to be alone time. If you have a partner, now is the time to put them to use ☺ Get massages off of each other, don't make this sexual, make it a time to help each other unwind and release their stress.

5) MEDITATION - again this is something that few people find time to do or even know how to do in our society. Meditation time is a hugely valuable tool and skill to use. You can get training in meditation quite easily by googling mediation classing in your area. And other option is to use a self-hypnosis cd. You can get my free relaxation cd at http://www.christopheradamsonline.com/free-hypnosis-trial/

6) BUBBLE BATH - It's a simple way to relax and unwind, and it's easy to make the bathroom your own secluded place of comfort. Some candles, smells and relaxing bubble bath can transform a normal activity into the 10 minutes of anti-stress magic you need.

Christopher Adams is a Clinical Hypnotherapist and Trainer of Neuro Linguistic Programming. For more information visit http://www.christopheradamsonline.comn
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