Unfortunately, stress is a very common occurrence among people nowadays, given that schedules are more and more hectic and you have to complete many responsibilities. Regardless of whether the cause of worry is a minor or major one, the result is more or less the same: you end up becoming worried. You’re more likely than not already familiar with the tell-tale symptoms, as your muscles feel tense and sore, you have trouble concentrating on anything that’s not the problem itself, your heart is pounding, and you feel as tired as if you had just run a marathon.
All these signs are ubiquitous. However, that doesn’t make them any less detrimental to your overall health and well-being. The “stress response” is a vestigial reaction dating back to prehistory when archaic humans had to be equipped with the necessary responses to withstand serious immediate threats such as natural disasters or animal attacks. Nowadays, people don’t face the same dangers, yet the reaction remains intact and is triggered by difficult situations and life events.
And while it can seem virtually impossible to control your stress responses and make anxiety go away altogether, there are actually several strategies you can use that can help you unwind. The relaxation response is the antithesis of stress and can be elicited and fostered in many different ways. Here are some forms of active relaxation that will help you take a much-needed breather.
Active relaxation is any type of activity that engages the body and the mind simultaneously. In this sense, it is somewhere at the crossroads between productivity and leisure. Naturally, there’s nothing better than exercise when it comes to this. Moving your body helps increase serotonin levels, which in turn leads to improved mood and higher energy levels. Dopamine is also boosted, and neurotransmitter levels responsible for helping you feel well, known as endorphins, also increase.
You’ve probably heard this function referred to as a runner’s high. Yet, it’s not just running that can help you achieve relaxation. Any other kind of physical activity will do, including strength training or pilates. Going on a walk is also a very good thing, for both your regular fitness levels, as well as for the fact that it gives you time to get your thoughts in order, or to have a meaningful conversation with someone, depending on whether you feel like walking by yourself or want to bring someone else along.
Train your mind
Often, when your mind is unoccupied, it has the tendency to wander to uncomfortable places, causing intrusive thoughts to show up. However, this doesn’t mean you should overwork yourself until you’re completely exhausted in order to avoid falling into a troublesome mindset. Instead, what you should try is to fill your free time with relaxing and enriching activities that can help you develop on a personal level.
Reading a book and listening to music are the most common ones. Classical and orchestral pieces have been shown to have genuine advantages for mental and emotional health. They have been found to offer benefits in the areas of mood regulation, memory and cognitive functions.
You can also take an online class and learn more about a subject you may have wanted to learn more about in the past but didn’t have the chance to. Get enrolled in Chemistry tuition classes to access on-demand video lessons, which are available at half the cost of conventional courses conducted by different tutors. Because the lectures can be accessed at all times, you don’t have to worry about missing anything. Any preliminary questions will also be answered during the practice and revision.
Practicing mindfulness isn’t only a great way to relax and unwind if you’re going through a difficult time. It’s also one of the best ways to gain a new, perhaps more objective perspective on things, as well as a great way to promote cognitive health. All you need to do is sit comfortably and focus on your breathing. When thoughts come into your mind, all you have to do is let them pass, as focusing on them too much and beginning to overanalyze everything would defeat the core purpose of the exercise. Bring your attention to the present moment, and don’t concentrate on any past or future concerns.
Being grounded in the present is something you’ll have established as a positive thing if you visit a therapist as well since it is an immediate anxiety killer. The reason is that stressful thoughts tend to be focused on hypothetical situations. If nothing is wrong, you’re worried that things will take a turn for the worse in time, and if something happens, you might let it get out of hand until it all seems much more difficult than it actually is. Both these scenarios are directly tied to a fear of the unfamiliar since you cannot know what the future brings. And while it’s important to be prepared, it’s not helpful to forget to live in the present.
Tai Chi and Qigong
Much like the better-known yoga, these ancient arts involve a system of very well-coordinated posture and movement exercises that aim to bring the body in perfect alignment with the mind. Throughout a routine, you’re encouraged to focus on your breathing, meditate and relax. There are several benefits associated with practicing either of them, including fatigue relief, increased quality of life and better mood.
While the two share several similarities and can appear to be virtually the same for untrained onlookers, they have some core differences. The main one is that Qigong is the simpler of the two since it is mainly focused on cultivating energy. Tai Chi requires more discipline and places emphasis on physical form alongside the mental benefits.
In conclusion, it can be challenging to find the right balance in life that allows you to reduce stress as much as possible. With so many challenges coming your way, it can seem like a never-ending quest. However, if you use some tried-and-tested methods, you can regain control of your emotions and enjoy relaxation again.