Before we can deal with stress, it’s a good idea to understand what exactly stress is. I am referring to the emotional and physical pressure we feel from outside sources….i.e. the workplace, relationships, family members, etc.
We live in a fast pace world with a hundred things on our to-do list…go into work early, finish the presentation, take the kids to the doctor, pick up the dry cleaning, meet friends or family for dinner…and we have worked ourselves into these frenzies that turn us into physical and mental messes.
So how do we know when we are stressed?
Some of the mental signs that are stress-related include tension, irritability, inability to concentrate and trouble sleeping. Some of the physical signs we might see may include tight muscles, a pounding heart, sweaty palms, headaches or an upset stomach.
To help combat stress they are several things we can do. One of the most important things we can do is identify stressors in our lives.
By identifying the source of the stress, we can begin to make ourselves aware and start incorporating some relaxation techniques into place.
One relaxation technique that is my favorite is a progressive muscle relaxation. This just allows you to focus on different muscle groups one at a time by tensing up the muscles for five seconds and then releasing the muscle from that hold. An example of this is just taking your shoulders and pulling them up close to your ears for a count of five and then releasing them down to their normal position. Clenching your fist and then opening the hands wide will help release tension in the hands and forearms. Just take it nice and easy and work your way down the body until you feel the stress melt away.
Another way to deal with stress is to practice deep abdominal breathing. This type of breathing helps slow down the heart rate and is actually a more efficient way to breathe.
To make sure that you are breathing from the abdomen and not from the chest you can place one hand on the chest and one on the stomach. Breathe in and look down…which hand is moving? If the hand that is placed on the stomach is moving…congratulations, you are doing abdominal breathing! Take several deep breaths using your abdominal breathing and see how you feel afterward.
Remember, there is always going to be stressors in your life, but being able to identify them and using a few relaxation methods with help you lead a healthier, happier life.