Who isn’t busy these days? A super-hectic life can lead to high levels of stress. But, if we internalize our stress, it can wreak havoc on our bodies, minds, and relationships.
We can relieve our stress in a number of ways. Working out regularly and practicing presence are highly effective “preventative” ways to keep stress levels low. We can also use all of our five senses – sight, sound, smell, touch and taste – to relieve and release stress.
SIGHT: BRING BACK THE OCEAN BREEZE
Make your space visually appealing, whether it be your car, home, or office. Try hanging a picture of a place that calms you or reminds you of a happy time and place. Perhaps your vacation was a dream, or your baby girl’s smile melts your heart. Make sure you have *intentional* visual reminders around you of all that brings a smile to your face! You can even paint your walls a color that makes you feel great. If you have old wallpaper up that you can’t stand, take it down- a coat of paint goes a long way to creating a peaceful space.
SOUND: LISTEN UP
With ipods, itunes and built-in computer speakers, it’s simple to have calming sounds playing softly at your desk, in your car, or in your home. Find sounds that make you happy. If you’ve had an especially stressful day, it might not be a good idea to listen to talk radio if the topic is highly stressful, or watch the news right when you arrive home from a long day. You need some decompression time to just relax.
SMELL: SCENT-SATIONAL RELIEF
Ok, so we all know about aromatherapy. Don’t underestimate the value of dabbing a little oil on your temples, keeping beautiful smelling candles lit, wearing your favorite perfume. Vanilla, ginger, lavender, lemon, chamomile, sandalwood, ylang ylang, and bergamot are all proven to have anti-stress effects. Find the scents that calm you down and use them in your environment.
TOUCH: THE BLANKIE EFFECT
We don’t always have time or money to have a massage, although touch is very powerful for relieving stress.If you have a partner, make sure to hold hands and connect with him/her. And if not, or in addition to that, remember “woobies” work for a reason! Ever notice how a child clings to his/her teddy bears or favorite blankets, especially when they are tired or teary eyed? Wearing clothing that feels good, even having comfy soft-lined slippers under your desk or around the house makes you feel so much better. Aching feet cause a lot of stress throughout our bodies. Keep your sheets and blankets soft, too. Remember, physical stress can lead to mental stress and vice versa. And, if all else fails, find a punching bag and duke it out while strengthening your muscles.
TASTE: THE WAY TO CALM
Don’t misinterpret this one–this does not mean stress eating. There are certain flavors, textures, and temperatures of food/beverage that have proven calming effects. There is a huge correlation to stress and digestion, affecting the way we feel in general. Herbal teas and warm milk can relax you. Also, eating at a relaxed pace in regular intervals is important–don’t go hours on end without eating and then shovel in something quick. Caffeine and simple sugar stimulate stress, so if you reach for a candy bar and a cup of coffee, stop yourself. You’ll feel worse afterward!