How to Stop Stressing & Relax

Stress-relax-therapistIt is normal to feel stressed at various times in your life. Stress only becomes a mental and physical health hazard when it interferes with your relationships and daily functioning. In fact, chronic stress can lead to serious medical conditions like coronary artery disease. Stress can also “flare” chronic illnesses like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, hypertension, asthma, diabetes, etc. Relaxed people are able to focus on the positive instead of the negative.

Moreover, relaxed people are happier and healthier than those that are stressed. If you are experiencing high levels of stress, it is time to take a step back and re-center. Although it may not feel like it right now, you can stop stressing and relax. You can also protect your physical and emotional health and well-being by incorporating the following strategies into your daily life. If you are wondering how to stop stressing and relax – you have come to the right place. This article will teach you how to relax when you become overstressed, overwhelmed and overburdened.

***If you are experiencing high levels of stress that nothing seems to remedy, it is important to seek help with a mental health professional (i.e. counselor, social worker, therapist, psychotherapist, psychologist and/or a psychiatrist). This professional will help you work through your issues so that you can finally achieve the peace and happiness you deserve.

Listed below are valuable ways to stop stressing and relax:
• Take a Deep Breath

If you want to stop stressing and relax, you will need to take a deep breath. Moreover, if you are really stressed you may need to take two or three breaths to relax. Deep breathing helps to ease stress and tension from your body. It also helps to clear your mind and improve your mood. Whenever you feel your stress level rising, seek out a quiet place (i.e. an empty room, the bathroom or even a closet) and take several slow breaths. It is common to take short, shallow breaths when you’re stress so make sure that you inhale deeply from your diaphragm. Repeat this activity until you feel calmer and more relaxed.

• Change Your Attitude

You also need to change her attitude if you want to stop stressing and relax. In other words, you will need to start thinking more positively. If you are cynical by nature you will need to learn how to reframe how you think. For instance, instead of worrying excessively about what you are unable to complete that day, focus on what you were able to successfully accomplish by deadline. “Don’t fret the small stuff!” Stop yourself when you find that you are drifting into a negative zone. According to therapists, Melinda Smith and Robert Segal (2014), push the negative thoughts out of your mind and think of something happy and positive.

Repeat in your mind the mantra, “This too shall pass.” You will experience lower levels of stress if you are able to change her attitude and concentrate on the people you love and the people who love you. In addition, instead of dwelling on all of the “bad” things that are happening in your life, focus on things that make you happy like an upcoming vacation, a romantic getaway with a spouse or partner, going to dinner, movie or a play with friends, hanging out at the beach, playing with your children, holidays and/or celebrations. Furthermore, you would be surprised how quickly your stress will ease if you laugh or smile. If you have tried and tried to change your attitude, but have had no luck, it may be time to schedule an appointment with a counselor or psychologist.

• Just Let It Go!

It is also important to “just let it go!” In other words, there comes a time when you realize that there are some things that you simply cannot change. In those situations, the best thing you can do is “just let it go.” The more you fret over what you cannot change – the higher your stress level will rise. If you find it difficult to “let it go,” it may be time for you to seek professional help with a counselor, psychologist, psychotherapist, clinical social worker and/or psychiatrist. Does not let stress control your life!

• Stock Up on Healthy Foods & Exercise

Another effective way to stop stressing and relax is to make sure you stock up on healthy foods. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and fatty fish (i.e. tuna and salmon) are chocked full of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Junk food (i.e. chips, pizza, cakes, doughnuts, cookies, cheeseburgers, deli meats, pork rinds, soup, chicken wings, frozen dinners, fried pretzels and fries) can cause your sodium levels to skyrocket. According to Dan Childs, Managing Medical Unit Editor for ABC News (2009), large amounts of sodium can raise your blood pressure and exacerbate your stress levels.

If you start to feel stressed, snack on almonds, fresh fruits, leafy green veggies (i.e. spinach, kale, Swiss chard, broccoli, turnip greens, collard greens and/or mustard greens), whole-grains and/or fatty fish (i.e. tuna and/or salmon). Stay away from nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, drugs and large amounts of salt and sugar because they can trigger anxiety and depression (Smith & Segal, 2014). In addition, ramp up your exercise routine when you feel stressed. Try to get at least 10 to 15 minutes of exercise a day.

If you cannot perform aerobic and/or cardio exercises – focus on stretching, yoga, swimming and/or walking at your own pace around your neighborhood or office building. The key is to deep breathe when exercising. Breathing deeply will help chase away the negative energy and calm your mind. If possible, try to commit to at least three (30-minute) workouts a week. Workouts like: cheerleading, jogging, walking/jogging on a treadmill or elliptical, biking, playing basketball, bowling, an exercise class at the gym and/or dancing will not only help get rid of your stress, it will also improve the condition of your heart and help you meet new people.

• Laugh

This may sound odd, but one of the best ways to stop stressing and relax is to laugh. According to the Mayo Clinic (2014), laughing not only releases the tension in your body, it also calms your mind. When you feel stressed, rent a funny movie from Red Box, purchased tickets to a comedy show, call your “funny” friends and/or tell a harmless, non-discriminatory joke to coworkers, friends and/or relatives. A good dose of laughter can release pent-up stress – if you let it.

• Talk to Someone

If the stress in your life prevents you from relaxing – talk to someone! In other words, call or visit your most trusted confidant and tell him or her how you feel. If you can’t call or visit your relative or best friend – text, e-mail and/or video chat with him or her. The worst thing you can do is keep the stress bottled up inside. Why? Because, you will eventually explode with anger, rage, anxiety, frustration and/or depression. If talking to a close friend or relative does not appear to be helping, schedule an appointment with a mental health professional (i.e. counselor, psychologist, psychotherapist, therapist, clinical social worker or a psychiatrist).

• Slow Down!

If you really want to stop the stress and relax, the best thing you can do is slow down! I know it may feel as if you have the weight of the world on your shoulders, but it is important that you realize that some things can actually wait. It may not feel like those tasks and assignments can wait, but they can! In other words, in most cases, the world will not come to an end if you take a breather. Even tasks like talking on your cell phone, while trying to grocery shop or drive require extra energy, which can easily turn into stress. Take a break from the chaos, breathe deeply and focus on you – even if it is only for a little while.

Staff Writer:
Dr. R. Y. Langham

References:
Childs, D. (2009). The 9 unhealthiest foods you can order at restaurants. ABC News: Good Morning America. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/Health/WellnessNews/story?id=7739766&page=1
Mayo Clinic. (2014). Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art- 20044456
Smith, M. & Segal, R. (2014). Stress management. Helpguide.org. Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/stress_management_relief_coping.htm