Relaxation Techniques for a Healthy Life
Humans are the descendants of apes. Apes who stayed alive by picking their fights, by knowing when to stand their ground and when to flee to their nearest tree with all their might. That is the fight or flight instinct, something built into every mammal on Earth. That’s the same instinct that gets activated when the pressures of daily life start weighing down on your shoulders.
Stress is the modern manifestation of the instinct that kept our ape ancestors alive in the forests of old. And while it is perfectly normal to feel stressed after a hard day or scary event, stress doesn’t always go away naturally. Sometimes, for one reason or another, the tension stays accumulated within our bodies.
Chronic stress is a serious medical condition linked to an array of harmful symptoms, including headaches, anxiety, panic attacks, muscle pain, insomnia, fatigue, reduction in sex drive, and depression. Luckily for you, there are some stress relief solutions that anyone can use, no matter how busy they are.
What you weren’t told about meditation
TV and hearsay have probably given you the wrong idea of what meditation is supposed to be. Get monks and monasteries out of your mind. There is no need to sit in a lotus position either, and you don’t need to make your mind go completely silent. It’s nice if you can, but you likely won’t be able to during your first tries, and some people just never manage to reach complete silence. That’s fine.
Meditation is a non-religious mindfulness exercise where the goal is for you to break your normal chain of thought and allow yourself to just be for a set amount of time. To get started, find a comfortable position, set a fifteen-minute timer, and stay still in that position until the time is over. If you need to block out distractions, wear headphones and play a white noise track. You can find them on YouTube — the sound of rain or ocean waves are perfect for blocking out the outside world.
Your goal for those fifteen minutes is simple: take deep breaths, and focus on your breathing. Then try to distance yourself from your thoughts. It’s not easy to make them go silent, but you can try to not engage with them. Whenever a new thought pops into your mind, just let it go away; go back to breathing, count your breaths if it helps you focus.
Exercising this type of mindful meditation will do more than just calming you down in the moment. The ability to distance yourself from your thoughts is something you can hone, like a muscle. With practice, you will become able to regain some of your calm in any situation by simply taking a deep breath and distancing yourself from the noise within your own mind.
Other forms of stress relief
Sometimes meditating isn’t enough, or maybe it just isn’t for you. That’s ok, there are other tricks you can use to release your stress. Plenty of people find small repetitive tasks — such as filling coloring books, chewing gum, and petting a dog — to be an effective stress management measure. Physical activities like boxing, dancing, jogging, and running all have stress relief properties as well. Do whatever you can to maintain your peace. Your body will thank you for it.
Of course, this is all assuming your stress stems from psychological causes. Stress and anxiety can be caused and heightened by biological factors as well, such as vitamin deficiencies and excessive caffeine intake. If you feel stressed but can’t live without your morning coffee, consider taking coffee with a healthy dose of CBD to balance out the anxiety-inducing effects of the caffeine.