Stress is essential in life for survival. Without stress, we would lack the “flight or fight” necessary to prompt us to act quickly in threatening situations. We cannot live without stress.
However, stress can become problematic when it is overwhelming and disrupts a healthy state of equilibrium in your central nervous system (CNS). When this happens, you become much more vulnerable physically and mentally.
Here are some simple relaxation strategies to help keep your stress level in check:
1. Deep Breathing: the key to deep breathing is to fill your lungs with as much fresh air as possible. To do this, it is important to breathe deeply from your abdomen. The more oxygen you fill in your lungs, the less tense and anxious you will feel. Take in one deep breath through your nose filling your lungs, and then exhale slowly through your mouth, deflating your lungs and allowing your abdomen to relax.
2. Mindfulness: one definition of mindfulness is “focused awareness in the present moment without self-consciousness.” Mindfulness keeps you focused on your experience in this moment and allows stressful or overwhelming thoughts to pass on by. Mindfulness helps bring your nervous system back into balance. Pick one item to focus on for a minute or two – perhaps a leaf on a tree or a pen. Notice everything you can about the item, allowing all other thoughts to pass. This will distract you from your stress.
3. Imagery: you pick the scene! Visualizing a calming place, environment or memory offers your mind a chance to relax and get soothed. Imagine the scene using all of your 5 senses – maximizing the potency of the experience and allowing yourself to get fully enveloped.
Stress is expected in life. In order to prevent it from upsetting your equilibrium, practice these simple strategies for just a minute or two each day.