Chronic stress is not only a problem because of how it makes us feel – anxious, frustrated, or even depressed – but it is also a major contributor to various symptoms of physical imbalance and disease. Stress weakens the immune system and creates inflammation in the body, thereby creating an environment in which illness can take hold. It can contribute to everything from headaches, acne, muscle aches, and infections to autoimmune disease and even cancer if combined with other toxicity in the body.
MAKING REGULAR TIME TO DE-STRESS IS ESSENTIAL TO LONG-TERM HEALTH!
This includes things like fitness, being outdoors, enjoying your hobbies, meditation, laughter, seeing good friends, and anything that truly soothes your soul.
Unfortunately, while most of us know when we’re feeling stressed (and even that we should do something about it) balancing our energies often takes a backseat to life’s seemingly more important priorities. The result is that we’re walking around stressed out most of the time, putting off rewarding ourselves with rest and relaxation until other obligations are fulfilled, which can take days, weeks, or even months.
It is equally challenging to accept the notion that we deserve time to ourselves, especially for parents, busy professionals, any anyone who puts the needs of others ahead of their own. Well, if no one else has told you this today, you are WORTHY. Worthy of rest, relief, escape, pleasure, joy, fun, and freedom.
Of course, there are times when it seems impossible to pause life’s pursuits. But that’s no excuse for giving stress the upper hand!
These 5-minute relaxation techniques can fit into any schedule, no matter how full it already is.
1. Stand up and stretch. Your body accumulates tension in areas like the neck and lower back, which can lead to aches and pains. If you don’t stretch at least once every 45 minutes, that pesky tension will take much longer to soften and dissolve. For those working at a desk, set a reminder on your computer to take a short break, whether it’s just a stretch or a brief walk outside. This simple act will increase circulation and promote relaxation.
2. Breathe. Simply closing your eyes, breathing deeply, and focusing on each inhalation and exhalation for several breaths will allow your mind to pause and recalibrate the situation, while increasing energy and alertness and soothing the nervous system. When you feel stress creeping in, breathe through it.
3. Make a cup of tea. It’s no wonder the Japanese have an entire ceremony devoted to the magic of tea! A warm and flavorful cup of health-promoting antioxidants is the perfect way to step back from a hectic day of ambitious projects. Step away from your work, thoughtfully select your favorite tea, boil some water, and brew for a couple minutes while you wait without multitasking. Breathe in the aroma and enjoy this simple experience for a moment before continuing on with your day.
4. Visualize and smile. Ever notice how the mere thought of your last vacation makes you feel instantly relaxed? That’s because visualizing and smiling actually causes a release of endorphins, which are natural stress relievers. Whenever you feel tense, just think of your favorite place and smile.
5. Use essential oils. Pleasant aromas have long been used in aromatherapy to improve mood and boost health. Essential oils come in small bottles that are easy to carry with you or leave in your workspace. Some of the best scents for stress-relief are basil, chamomile, and ylang-ylang. Take a long deep breath of the oil that most appeals to you, or dab a little on your temples for a longer-lasting sensation.
Whatever you do, be sure to acknowledge when stress comes knocking and give yourself the space and permission to release it.