Ideal stress relievers will vary from person to person, of course, but below are a few from TWU’s list that stand out as particularly useful. These are not traditional stress relief exercises like a light work-out or listening to music. Those methods aren’t always an option and besides, getting ready to run or listen to music can be just another hamper to relaxation. These are things that can be done easily at a desk or during work hours, as that’s when people tend to be the most stressed. Notice also that not one of them involves going to a drug store or swallowing a capsule. Taking control of stress can begin and end with taking control of the body. Here they are:
Deep breathing. This one seems obvious, but most people don’t know why it’s so effective. What we know as stress is actually a bundle of physiological signs like increased heart rate, adrenaline production, and so on. Breathing deeply actually, physically slows down the body, reducing the symptoms of stress and, in turn, eliminating the feeling of ‘being stressed.’
Thought awareness. This exercise involves monitoring thoughts so as to appraise them rationally. Think of it like stream-of-consciousness journaling without the journal, or a sort of stress relief game. This will serve as a pleasant distraction from the sources of stress and also, more importantly, show those sources of stress to be irrational, owing more to basic anxiety than an honest assessment of things. Once that’s figured out, getting over it won’t be difficult.
Maintain a steady pace. Rushing is stressful. Instead, plan activities with realistic time goals and proceed at a steady pace. It may help to visualize finishing each particular stage of the activity rather than simply the completion. It’s worth noting here that the mantra of Goethe—a famous German poet, dramatist, theorist and scientist—was, “Never hurry; never rest.”
Imagery. To practice this stress reliever, simply imagine—completely—a relaxing place. It should be something personal, like a vacation home, childhood escape, etc. The title ‘Imagery’ is used in its broadest sense here—do not stop at the visual imagination. This mental stress relief method should also involve all senses; imagine the sounds, smells, tastes, and textures of the location along with its imagery.
Expand, explore, and experience. In short, give the curiosity a nice long flex. It is astonishing how quickly the mundane stresses of everyday life melt away when the mind is engaged in something novel. New sounds, new foods, even a new route to the office or to a favorite lunch spot—all these will turn attention away from stressors.