Due to our fast-paced lives, most of us hardly ever get time to relax and take a moment for ourselves. Did you know that the stress of your daily routine can build up and take a toll on your health? According to the World Health Organization, stress is a major problem in our time that adversely affects the physical and mental health of people. In fact, it is the second most frequent health problem in the world.
Research shows that when experienced for a long time, stress can lead to cardiovascular diseases, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and hair loss. Surprisingly, the role of stress in infectious diseases and cancer has also been uncovered. Furthermore, a substantial body of research connects stress to depression, eating disorders, and anxiety and panic attacks among other issues. It’s no wonder that stress is often referred to as the ‘silent killer’.
However, the good news is that through stress management techniques, it is easy to control stress and prevent it from affecting your physical and mental health. Let’s have a look at some evidence-based stress management techniques that you can employ to ensure a healthy and happy life.
Keep in mind that stress management techniques are not only for people suffering from a disease or a disorder. Everyone should adopt these stress-busting techniques and incorporate them in their daily routine as a tool for enhancing their quality of life. Even if you think that you are not stressed out, try these 2 techniques to feel a difference in your state of being.
1. Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)
PMR was first developed in the early 1920s by an American physician, Edmund Jacobson. The technique revolves around reducing stress and symptoms of anxiety by tensing and relaxing muscles alternately.
PMR employs the physical approach to help you relax. Jacobson argued that since stress accompanies muscle tension, learning to control and relax muscles can help relieve stress. Here’s how you can employ PMR to relax your body and mind in just a few seconds.
- Pick a quiet and comfortable place in your house and lay down with your hands at your side.
- Close your eyes and try tensing the muscles in your legs.
- After about 10 to 20 seconds, relax your muscles and feel the stress leaving your body.
- Now tense the muscles in your abdomen and repeat the same process.
- In a sequential order, move upwards from the legs to the abdomen, chest, arms, and face, slowly placing tension and releasing it in the respective muscles groups.
Following this technique, you can learn to effectively relax yourself in a short period of time.
2. Guided Imagery (GI)
You might already be familiar with this one! Guided imagery was first introduced by Joseph Wolpe in the late 1960s. However, evidence of guided imagery is abundantly found in traditional Chinese medicine and the indigenous traditions of Native Americans. Today, it is one of the most popular techniques for managing stress. The idea behind GI is to achieve a relaxed mental state by imagining yourself in a safe, comfortable place. This is where the concept of “happy place” comes from.
Although a proper guided imagery session requires visual or auditory stimuli (a set of instructions usually tells you what to imagine), you can always use this technique without them. Here’s how you can employ GI anywhere, at any time, to calm your nerves.
- Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a safe place.
- Use your imagination to make this place as serene and appealing as possible.
- For example, you can imagine yourself walking through scenic woods. The weather is perfect. You feel a pleasant breeze on your face. Imagine the sound of autumn leaves crunching beneath your feet as you walk. Think of how happy and comfortable in this place. And so on…
- The aim is to conjure an image that makes you feel happy and relaxed.
- While you run wild with your imagination, keep your breathing in check. Take long deep breaths from the mouth and release from the nose.
- Continue for about 10 minutes.
If you have proper stimuli to guide you through the GI session, follow the instructions and imagine the place that it specifies. On the other hand, once you know what you are doing, you can imagine your “happy place” on your own. Guided imagery is an excellent way to take your mind off things that stress you out and relax your body and mind.
Tip: You can easily find the audio for guided imagery online. In fact, there are a number of apps for GI that you can install on your phone. Then, all you need to do is plug your earphones and relax.
Tips for Dealing with Stress
Now that you know how to manage stress, scroll down to read some amazing tips that can help you make the most of your stress management plan.
- Try to understand the source of your stress. Where is it stemming from? It could be anything from issues relating to family or your long and tiring commute to work. Pinpoint what causes you stress and work on that issue.
- Try to understand how your body reacts to stress. For example, some people may experience headaches or stomach pains when they are stressed while others may have difficulty falling asleep at night. It could be anything. It is up to you to identify your stress signals to know when your body is overstressed.
- While exercise can be tiring, it is actually a good way to blow off some steam. You can also try yoga or meditation for a calmer form of physical activity.
- Don’t shy away from talking about your stress. If you are feeling overwhelmed, reach out to a friend or speak with a healthcare professional.
Remember, stress is a silent killer that deteriorates the quality of your life. If you think you are stressed, don’t hesitate to contact Scottsdale Recovery Center to get the help that you need.
Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2007. Call 602-346-9142.