STRESİN İLACI GÜLMEKTİR/THE LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE FOR STRESS

Laughter is the Best Medicine

The Health Benefits of Humor and Laughter

 

Humor & Laughter: Health Benefits & Online Sources

Humor is infectious. The sound of roaring laughter is far more contagious than any cough, sniffle, or sneeze. When laughter is shared, it binds people together and increases happiness and intimacy. Laughter also triggers healthy physical changes in the body. Humor and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free, and easy to use

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Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert.

 

With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing your relationships, and supporting both physical and emotional health.

 Laughter is good for your health

Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.

Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.

Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

The Benefits of Laughter

Physical Health Benefits:

Boosts immunity

Lowers stress hormones

Decreases pain

Relaxes your muscles

Prevents heart disease

Mental Health Benefits:

Adds joy and zest to life

Eases anxiety and fear

Relieves stress

Improves mood

Enhances resilience

Social Benefits:

Strengthens relationships

Attracts others to us

Enhances teamwork

Helps defuse conflict

Promotes group bonding

Laughter and humor help you stay emotionally healthy

Laughter makes you feel good. And the good feeling that you get when you laugh remains with you even after the laughter subsides. Humor helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss.

 

More than just a respite from sadness and pain, laughter gives you the courage and strength to find new sources of meaning and hope. Even in the most difficult of times, a laugh–or even simply a smile–can go a long way toward making you feel better. And laughter really is contagious—just hearing laughter primes your brain and readies you to smile and join in the fun.

 

The link between laughter and mental health

The link between laughter and mental health

Laughter dissolves distressing emotions. You can’t feel anxious, angry, or sad when you’re laughing.

Laughter helps you relax and recharge. It reduces stress and increases energy, enabling you to stay focused and accomplish more.

Humor shifts perspective, allowing you to see situations in a more realistic, less threatening light. A humorous perspective creates psychological distance, which can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.

The social benefits of humor and laughter

Humor and playful communication strengthen our relationships by triggering positive feelings and fostering emotional connection. When we laugh with one another, a positive bond is created. This bond acts as a strong buffer against stress, disagreements, and disappointment.

 

Laughing with others is more powerful than laughing alone

Creating opportunities to laugh

Watch a funny movie or TV show.

Go to a comedy club.

Read the funny pages.

Seek out funny people.

Share a good joke or a funny story.

Check out your bookstore’s humor section.

Host game night with friends.

Play with a pet.

Go to a “laughter yoga” class.

Goof around with children.

Do something silly.

Make time for fun activities (e.g. bowling, miniature golfing, karaoke).

Shared laughter is one of the most effective tools for keeping relationships fresh and exciting. All emotional sharing builds strong and lasting relationship bonds, but sharing laughter and play also adds joy, vitality, and resilience. And humor is a powerful and effective way to heal resentments, disagreements, and hurts. Laughter unites people during difficult times.

 

Incorporating more humor and play into your daily interactions can improve the quality of your love relationships— as well as your connections with co-workers, family members, and friends. Using humor and laughter in relationships allows you to:

 

Be more spontaneous. Humor gets you out of your head and away from your troubles.

Let go of defensiveness. Laughter helps you forget judgments, criticisms, and doubts.

Release inhibitions. Your fear of holding back and holding on are set aside.

Express your true feelings. Deeply felt emotions are allowed to rise to the surface.

Bringing more humor and laughter into your life

Want more laughter in your life? Get a pet…

Therapeutic Benefits of Pets

Most of us have experienced the joy of playing with a furry friend, and pets are a rewarding way to bring more laughter and joy into your life. But did you know that having a pet is good for your mental and physical health? Studies show that pets can protect you depression, stress, and even heart disease.

Laughter is your birthright, a natural part of life that is innate and inborn.

Infants begin smiling during the first weeks of life and laugh out loud within months of being born. Even if you did not grow up in a household where laughter was a common sound, you can learn to laugh at any stage of life.

 

Begin by setting aside special times to seek out humor and laughter, as you might with working out, and build from there. Eventually, you’ll want to incorporate humor and laughter into the fabric of your life, finding it naturally in everything you do.

 

Here are some ways to start:

 

Smile. Smiling is the beginning of laughter. Like laughter, it’s contagious. Pioneers in “laugh therapy,” find it’s possible to laugh without even experiencing a funny event. The same holds for smiling. When you look at someone or see something even mildly pleasing, practice smiling.

Count your blessings. Literally make a list. The simple act of considering the good things in your life will distance you from negative thoughts that are a barrier to humor and laughter. When you’re in a state of sadness, you have further to travel to get to humor and laughter.

When you hear laughter, move toward it. Sometimes humor and laughter are private, a shared joke among a small group, but usually not. More often, people are very happy to share something funny because it gives them an opportunity to laugh again and feed off the humor you find in it. When you hear laughter, seek it out and ask, “What’s funny?”

Spend time with fun, playful people. These are people who laugh easily–both at themselves and at life’s absurdities–and who routinely find the humor in everyday events. Their playful point of view and laughter are contagious.

Bring humor into conversations. Ask people, “What’s the funniest thing that happened to you today? This week? In your life?”

Developing your sense of humor: Take yourself less seriously

One essential characteristic that helps us laugh is not taking ourselves too seriously. We’ve all known the classic tight-jawed sourpuss who takes everything with deathly seriousness and never laughs at anything. No fun there!

 

Some events are clearly sad and not occasions for laughter. But most events in life don’t carry an overwhelming sense of either sadness or delight. They fall into the gray zone of ordinary life–giving you the choice to laugh or not.

 

Ways to help yourself see the lighter side of life:

Laugh at yourself. Share your embarrassing moments. The best way to take yourself less seriously is to talk about times when you took yourself too seriously.

Attempt to laugh at situations rather than bemoan them. Look for the humor in a bad situation, and uncover the irony and absurdity of life. This will help improve your mood and the mood of those around you.

Surround yourself with reminders to lighten up. Keep a toy on your desk or in your car. Put up a funny poster in your office. Choose a computer screensaver that makes you laugh. Frame photos of you and your family or friends having fun.

Keep things in perspective. Many things in life are beyond your control—particularly the behavior of other people. While you might think taking the weight of the world on your shoulders is admirable, in the long run it’s unrealistic, unproductive, unhealthy, and even egotistical.

Deal with your stress. Stress is a major impediment to humor and laughter.

Pay attention to children and emulate them. They are the experts on playing, taking life lightly, and laughing.

Checklist for lightening up

When you find yourself taken over by what seems to be a horrible problem, ask these questions:

Is it really worth getting upset over?

Is it worth upsetting others?

Is it that important?

Is it that bad?

Is the situation irreparable?

Is it really your problem?

Using humor and play to overcome challenges and enhance your life

The ability to laugh, play, and have fun with others not only makes life more enjoyable but also helps you solve problems, connect with others, and be more creative. People who incorporate humor and play into their daily lives find that it renews them and all of their relationships.

 

Life brings challenges that can either get the best of you or become playthings for your imagination. When you “become the problem” and take yourself too seriously, it can be hard to think outside the box and find new solutions. But when you play with the problem, you can often transform it into an opportunity for creative learning.

 

Playing with problems seems to come naturally to children. When they are confused or afraid, they make their problems into a game, giving them a sense of control and an opportunity to experiment with new solutions. Interacting with others in playful ways helps you retain this creative ability.

 

Here are two examples of people who took everyday problems and turned them around through laughter and play:

 

Roy, a semi-retired businessman, was excited to finally have time to devote to golf, his favorite sport. But the more he played, the less he enjoyed himself. Although his game had improved dramatically, he got angry with himself over every mistake. Roy wisely realized that his golfing buddies affected his attitude, so he stopped playing with people who took the game too seriously. When he played with friends who focused more on having fun than on their scores, he was less critical of himself. Now golfing was as enjoyable as Roy hoped it would be. He scored better without working harder. And the brighter outlook he was getting from his companions and the game spread to other parts of his life, including his work.

 

Jane worked at home designing greeting cards, a job she used to love but now felt had become routine. Two little girls who loved to draw and paint lived next door. Eventually, Jane invited the girls in to play with all the art supplies she had. At first, she just watched, but in time she joined in. Laughing, coloring, and playing pretend with the little girls transformed Jane’s life. Not only did playing with them end her loneliness and mild boredom, it sparked her imagination and helped her artwork flourish. Best of all, it rekindled the playfulness and spark in Jane’s relationship with her husband.

 

As laughter, humor, and play become an integrated part of your life, your creativity will flourish and new discoveries for playing with friends, coworkers, acquaintances, and loved ones will occur to you daily. Humor takes you to a higher place where you can view the world from a more relaxed, positive, creative, joyful, and balanced perspective.

 

STRES SONRASI YENİLENMENİN YOLLARI/ TIPS FOR RECHARGING AND FINDING BALANCE AFTER STRESS

 

Tips for Recharging and Finding Balance

Caregiving Tips for Family Caregivers

The demands of caregiving can be overwhelming, especially if you feel you have little control over the situation or you’re in over your head. If the stress of caregiving is left unchecked, it can take a toll on your health, relationships, and state of mind—eventually leading to burnout. When you’re burned out, it’s tough to do anything, let alone look after someone else. That’s why making time to rest, relax, and recharge isn’t a luxury—it’s a necessity. Read on for tips on how to regain balance in your life.

Caregiver stress and burnout: What you need to know

Caring for a loved one can be very rewarding, but it also involves many stressors: changes in the family dynamic, household disruption, financial pressure, and the added workload. So is it any wonder that caregivers are some of the people most prone to burnout?

 

Caregiver stress can be particularly damaging, since it is typically a chronic, long-term challenge. You may face years or even decades of caregiving responsibilities. It can be particularly disheartening when there’s no hope that your family member will get better. Without adequate help and support, the stress of caregiving leaves you vulnerable to a wide range of physical and emotional problems, ranging from heart disease to depression.

 

When caregiver stress and burnout puts your own health at risk, it affects your ability to provide care. It hurts both you and the person you’re caring for. The key point is that caregivers need care too. Managing the stress levels in your life is just as important as making sure your family member gets to his doctor’s appointment or takes her medication on time.

 

Signs and symptoms of caregiver stress and burnout

Learning to recognize the signs of caregiver stress and burnout is the first step to dealing with the problem.

 

Common signs and symptoms of caregiver stress

Anxiety, depression, irritability

Feeling tired and run down

Difficulty sleeping

Overreacting to minor nuisances

New or worsening health problems

Trouble concentrating

Feeling increasingly resentful

Drinking, smoking, or eating more

Neglecting responsibilities

Cutting back on leisure activities

Common signs and symptoms of caregiver burnout

You have much less energy than you used to

It seems like you catch every cold or flu that’s going around

You’re constantly exhausted, even after sleeping or taking a break

You neglect your own needs, either because you’re too busy or you don’t care anymore

Your life revolves around caregiving, but it gives you little satisfaction

You have trouble relaxing, even when help is available

You’re increasingly impatient and irritable with the person you’re caring for

You feel helpless and hopeless

Once you burn out, caregiving is no longer a healthy option for either you or the person you’re caring for. So it’s important to watch for the warning signs of caregiver burnout and take action right away when you recognize the problem.

 

Dealing with caregiver stress & burnout tip 1: Ask for help

Taking on all of the responsibilities of caregiving without regular breaks or assistance is a surefire recipe for burnout. Don’t try to do it all alone. Look into respite care. Or enlist friends and family who live near you to run errands, bring a hot meal, or “baby-sit” the care receiver so you can take a well-deserved break.

 

Tips for getting the caregiving help you need

Speak up. Don’t expect friends and family members to automatically know what you need or how you’re feeling. Be up front about what’s going on with you and the person you’re caring for. If you have concerns or thoughts about how to improve the situation, express them—even if you’re unsure how they’ll be received. Get a dialogue going.

Spread the responsibility. Try to get as many family members involved as possible. Even someone who lives far away can help. You may also want to divide up caregiving tasks. One person can take care of medical responsibilities, another with finances and bills, and another with groceries and errands, for example.

Set up a regular check-in. Ask a family member, friend, or volunteer from your church or senior center to call you on a set basis (every day, weekly, or how ever often you think you need it). This person can help you spread status updates and coordinate with other family members.

Say “yes” when someone offers assistance. Don’t be shy about accepting help. Let them feel good about supporting you. It’s smart to have a list ready of small tasks that others could easily take care of, such as picking up groceries or driving your loved one to an appointment.

Be willing to relinquish some control. Delegating is one thing. Trying to control every aspect of care is another. People will be less likely to help if you micromanage, give orders, or insist on doing things your way.

Dealing with caregiver stress & burnout tip 2: Give yourself a break

As a busy caregiver, leisure time may seem like an impossible luxury. But you owe it to yourself—as well as to the person you’re caring for—to carve it into your schedule. Give yourself permission to rest and to do things that you enjoy on a daily basis. You will be a better caregiver for it.

 

There’s a difference between being busy and being productive. If you’re not regularly taking time-off to de-stress and recharge your batteries, you’ll end up getting less done in the long run. After a break, you should feel more energetic and focused, so you’ll quickly make up for your relaxation time.

 

Set aside a minimum of 30 minutes every day for yourself. Do whatever you enjoy, whether it’s reading, working in the garden, tinkering in your workshop, knitting, playing with the dogs, or watching the game.

Find ways to pamper yourself. Small luxuries can go a long way in relieving stress and boosting your spirits. Light candles and take a long bath. Ask your hubby for a back rub. Get a manicure. Buy fresh flowers for the house. Or whatever makes you feel special.

Make yourself laugh. Laughter is an excellent antidote to stress—and a little goes a long way. Read a funny book, watch a comedy, or call a friend who makes you laugh. And whenever you can, try to find the humor in everyday situations.

Get out of the house. Seek out friends and family to step in with caregiving so you can have some time away from the home.

Visit with friends. If it is difficult to leave the house, invite friends over to visit with you over coffee, tea, or dinner. It’s important that you interact with others.

Dealing with caregiver stress & burnout tip 3: Practice acceptance

When faced with the unfairness of a loved one’s illness or the burden of caregiving, there’s often a need to make sense of the situation and ask “Why?” But you can spend a tremendous amount of energy dwelling on things you can’t change and for which there are no clear answers. And at the end of the day, you won’t feel any better.

 

Try to avoid the emotional trap of feeling sorry for yourself or searching for someone to blame. Focus instead on accepting the situation and looking for ways it can help you grown as a person. As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.”

 

Focus on the things you can control. You can’t wish your mother’s cancer away or force your brother to help out more. Rather than stressing out over things you can’t control, focus on the way you choose to react to problems.

Find the silver lining. Think about the ways caregiving has made you stronger or how it’s brought you closer to person you’re taking care of or to other family members. Think about how caregiving allows you to give back and show your love.

Share your feelings. Expressing what you’re going through can be very cathartic, even if there’s nothing you can do to alter the situation. Talk to a friend or therapist about what you’re going through as a family caregiver.

Avoid tunnel vision. Don’t let caregiving take over your whole life. It’s easier to accept a difficult situation when there are other areas of your life that are rewarding. Invest in things that give you meaning and purpose—whether it’s your family, church, a favorite hobby, or your career.

Dealing with caregiver stress & burnout tip 4: Take care of your health

Think of your body like a car. With the right fuel and proper maintenance, it will run reliably and well. Neglect its upkeep and it will start to give you trouble. Don’t add to the stress of your caregiving situation with avoidable health woes.

 

Keep on top of your doctor visits. It’s easy to forget about your own health when you’re busy with a loved one’s care. Don’t skip check-ups or medical appointments. You need to be healthy in order to take good care of your family member.

Exercise. When you’re stressed and tired, the last thing you feel like doing is exercising. But you’ll feel better afterwards. Exercise is a powerful stress reliever and mood enhancer. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes on most days. When you exercise regularly, you’ll also find it boosts your energy level and helps you fight fatigue.

Meditate. A daily relaxation or meditation practice can help you relieve stress and boost feelings of joy and well-being. Try yoga, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or mindfulness meditation. Even a few minutes in the middle of an overwhelming day can help you feel more centered.

Eat well. Nourish your body with fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, lean protein, and healthy fats such as nuts and olive oil. Unlike sugar and caffeine—which provide a quick pick-me-up and an even quicker crash—these foods will fuel you with steady energy.

Don’t skimp on sleep. Cutting back on time in bed is counterproductive—at least if your goal is to get more done. Most people need more sleep than they think they do (8 hours is the norm). When you get less, your mood, energy, productivity, and ability to handle stress will suffer.

Dealing with caregiver stress & burnout tip 5: Join a support group

A caregiver support group is a great way to share your troubles and find people who are going through the same experiences that you are living each day. If you can’t leave the house, many Internet groups are also available.

 

In most support groups, you’ll talk about your problems and listen to others talk; you’ll not only get help, but you’ll also be able to help others. Most important, you’ll find out that you’re not alone. You’ll feel better knowing that other people are in the same situation, and their knowledge can be invaluable, especially if they’re caring for someone with the same illness as you are.

 

Local vs. Online Support Groups for Caregivers

Local support groups:

People live near each other and meet in a given place each week or month.

You get face-to-face contact and a chance to make new friends who live near you.

The meetings get you out of the house, get you moving provide a social outlet, and reduce feelings of isolation.

Meetings are at a set time. You will need to attend them regularly to get the full benefit of the group.

Since the people in the support group are from your area, they’ll be more familiar with local resources and issues.

Online support groups:

People are from all over the world and have similar interests or problems.

You meet online, through email lists, websites, message boards, or social media.

You can get support without leaving your house, which is good for people with limited mobility or transportation problems.

You can access the group whenever it’s convenient for you or when you need help most.

If your problem is very unusual—a rare disease, for example—there may not be enough people for a local group, but there will always be enough people online.

To find a community support group, check the yellow pages, ask your doctor or hospital, or call a local organization that deals with the health problem you would like to address in a support group. To find an Internet support group, visit the website of an organization dedicated to the problem

 

STRESİN SİZİ TÖRPÜLEYEREK BİTİRMESİNE İZİN VERMEYİNİZ/PREVENT THE STRESS TO BURN OUT YOU

Burnout Signs and Symptoms of the Stress

If constant stress has you feeling disillusioned, helpless, and completely worn out, you may be suffering from burnout. When you’re burned out, problems seem insurmountable, everything looks bleak, and it’s difficult to muster up the energy to care—let alone do something about your situation. The unhappiness and detachment burnout causes can threaten your job, your relationships, and your health. But burnout can be healed. You can regain your balance by reassessing priorities, making time for yourself, and seeking support.

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Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest or motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.

 

Burnout reduces your productivity and saps your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful. Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give.

 

Most of us have days when we feel bored, overloaded, or unappreciated; when the dozen balls we keep in the air aren’t noticed, let alone rewarded; when dragging ourselves out of bed requires the determination of Hercules. If you feel like this most of the time, however, you may be flirting with burnout.

 You may be on the road to burnout if:

Every day is a bad day.

Caring about your work or home life seems like a total waste of energy.

You’re exhausted all the time.

The majority of your day is spent on tasks you find either mind-numbingly dull or overwhelming.

You feel like nothing you do makes a difference or is appreciated.

The negative effects of burnout spill over into every area of life—including your home and social life. Burnout can also cause long-term changes to your body that make you vulnerable to illnesses like colds and flu. Because of its many consequences, it’s important to deal with burnout right away.

 

Dealing with Burnout: The “Three R” Approach

Recognize – Watch for the warning signs of burnout

Reverse – Undo the damage by managing stress and seeking support

Resilience – Build your resilience to stress by taking care of your physical and emotional health

The difference between stress and burnout

Burnout may be the result of unrelenting stress, but it isn’t the same as too much stress. Stress, by and large, involves too much: too many pressures that demand too much of you physically and psychologically. Stressed people can still imagine, though, that if they can just get everything under control, they’ll feel better.

 

Burnout, on the other hand, is about not enough. Being burned out means feeling empty, devoid of motivation, and beyond caring. People experiencing burnout often don’t see any hope of positive change in their situations. If excessive stress is like drowning in responsibilities, burnout is being all dried up. One other difference between stress and burnout: While you’re usually aware of being under a lot of stress, you don’t always notice burnout when it happens.

 

Stress vs. Burnout

Stress

Burnout

Characterized by overengagement

Characterized by disengagement

Emotions are overreactive

Emotions are blunted

Produces urgency and hyperactivity

Produces helplessness and hopelessness

Loss of energy

Loss of motivation, ideals, and hope

Leads to anxiety disorders

Leads to detachment and depression

Primary damage is physical

Primary damage is emotional

May kill you prematurely

May make life seem not worth living

Source:Stress and Burnout in Ministry

Causes of burnout

There are many causes of burnout. In many cases, burnout stems from your job. But anyone who feels overworked and undervalued is at risk for burnout—from the hardworking office worker who hasn’t had a vacation or a raise in two years to the frazzled stay-at-home mom struggling with the heavy responsibility of taking care of three kids, the housework, and her aging father.

 

But burnout is not caused solely by stressful work or too many responsibilities. Other factors contribute to burnout, including your lifestyle and certain personality traits. What you do in your downtime and how you look at the world can play just as big of a role in causing burnout as work or home demands.         

 

Work-related causes of burnout

Feeling like you have little or no control over your work

Lack of recognition or rewards for good work

Unclear or overly demanding job expectations

Doing work that’s monotonous or unchallenging

Working in a chaotic or high-pressure environment

Lifestyle causes of burnout

Working too much, without enough time for relaxing and socializing

Being expected to be too many things to too many people

Taking on too many responsibilities, without enough help from others

Not getting enough sleep

Lack of close, supportive relationships

Personality traits can contribute to burnout

Perfectionistic tendencies; nothing is ever good enough

Pessimistic view of yourself and the world

The need to be in control; reluctance to delegate to others

High-achieving, Type A personality

Warning signs and symptoms of burnout

Burnout is a gradual process that occurs over an extended period of time. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it can creep up on you if you’re not paying attention to the warning signals. The signs and symptoms of burnout are subtle at first, but they get worse and worse as time goes on.

 

Think of the early symptoms of burnout as warning signs or red flags that something is wrong that needs to be addressed. If you pay attention to these early warning signs, you can prevent a major breakdown. If you ignore them, you’ll eventually burn out.

 

Physical signs and symptoms of burnout

Feeling tired and drained most of the time

Lowered immunity, feeling sick a lot

Frequent headaches, back pain, muscle aches

Change in appetite or sleep habits

Emotional signs and symptoms of burnout

Sense of failure and self-doubt

Feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated

Detachment, feeling alone in the world

Loss of motivation

Increasingly cynical and negative outlook

Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment

Behavioral signs and symptoms of burnout

Withdrawing from responsibilities

Isolating yourself from others

Procrastinating, taking longer to get things done

Using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope

Taking out your frustrations on others

Skipping work or coming in late and leaving early

Preventing burnout

Learn how emotions can reduce stress

 

Watch 3-min. video: Developing emotional awareness

 

If you recognize the warning signs of impending burnout in yourself, remember that it will only get worse if you leave it alone. But if you take steps to get your life back into balance, you can prevent burnout from becoming a full-blown breakdown.

 

Burnout prevention tips

Start the day with a relaxing ritual. Rather than jumping out of bed as soon as you wake up, spend at least fifteen minutes meditating, writing in your journal, doing gentle stretches, or reading something that inspires you.

Adopt healthy eating, exercising, and sleeping habits. When you eat right, engage in regular physical activity, and get plenty of rest, you have the energy and resilience to deal with life’s hassles and demands.

Set boundaries. Don’t overextend yourself. Learn how to say “no” to requests on your time. If you find this difficult, remind yourself that saying “no” allows you to say “yes” to the things that you truly want to do.

Take a daily break from technology. Set a time each day when you completely disconnect. Put away your laptop, turn off your phone, and stop checking email.

Nourish your creative side. Creativity is a powerful antidote to burnout. Try something new, start a fun project, or resume a favorite hobby. Choose activities that have nothing to do with work.

Learn how to manage stress. When you’re on the road to burnout, you may feel helpless. But you have a lot more control over stress than you may think. Learning how to manage stress can help you regain your balance.

Recovering from burnout

Sometimes it’s too late to prevent burnout—you’re already past the breaking point. If that’s the case, it’s important to take your burnout very seriously. Trying to push through the exhaustion and continue as you have been will only cause further emotional and physical damage.

 

While the tips for preventing burnout are still helpful at this stage, recovery requires additional steps.

 

Burnout recovery strategy #1: Slow down

When you’ve reached the end stage of burnout, adjusting your attitude or looking after your health isn’t going to solve the problem. You need to force yourself to slow down or take a break. Cut back whatever commitments and activities you can. Give yourself time to rest, reflect, and heal.

 

Burnout recovery strategy #2: Get support

When you’re burned out, the natural tendency is to protect what little energy you have left by isolating yourself. But your friends and family are more important than ever during difficult times. Turn to your loved ones for support. Simply sharing your feelings with another person can relieve some of the burden.

 

Burnout recovery strategy #3: Reevaluate your goals and priorities

Burnout is an undeniable sign that something important in your life is not working. Take time to think about your hopes, goals, and dreams. Are you neglecting something that is truly important to you? Burnout can be an opportunity to rediscover what really makes you happy and to change course accordingly.

 

Recovering from burnout: Acknowledge your losses

Burnout brings with it many losses, which can often go unrecognized. Unrecognized losses trap a lot of your energy. It takes a tremendous amount of emotional control to keep yourself from feeling the pain of these losses. When you recognize these losses and allow yourself to grieve them, you release that trapped energy and open yourself to healing.

Loss of the idealism or dream with which you entered your career

Loss of the role or identity that originally came with your job

Loss of physical and emotional energy

Loss of friends, fun, and sense of community

Loss of esteem, self-worth, and sense of control and mastery

Loss of joy, meaning and purpose that make work – and life – worthwhile

Source: Keeping the Fire by Ruth Luban

Coping with job burnout

The most effective way to combat job burnout is to quit doing what you’re doing and do something else, whether that means changing jobs or changing careers. But if that isn’t an option for you, there are still things you can do to improve your situation, or at least your state of mind.

 

Actively address problems. Take a proactive rather than a passive approach to issues in your workplace, including stress at work. You’ll feel less helpless if you assert yourself and express your needs. If you don’t have the authority or resources to solve the problem, talk to a superior.

Clarify your job description. Ask your boss for an updated description of your job duties and responsibilities. Point out things you’re expected to do that are not part of your job description and gain a little leverage by showing that you’ve been putting in work over and above the parameters of your job.

Ask for new duties. If you’ve been doing the exact same work for a long time, ask to try something new: a different grade level, a different sales territory, a different machine.

Take time off. If burnout seems inevitable, take a complete break from work. Go on vacation, use up your sick days, ask for a temporary leave-of-absence—anything to remove yourself from the situation. Use the time away to recharge your batteries and take perspective.

 

WHAT IS SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS OF MY STRESS AND ANXIETY AND HOW TO HANDLE WITH IT/ STRES VE ENDİŞELERİMİN BELİRTİLERİ VE SEBEPLERİ NEDİR VE NASIL BAŞA ÇIKABİLİRİM?

 

Stress Symptoms, Signs and Causes

The Effects of Stress Overload and What You Can Do About It

Stress: Signs and Symptoms, Causes and Effects

Modern life is full of hassles, deadlines, frustrations, and demands. For many people, stress is so commonplace that it has become a way of life. Stress isn’t always bad. In small doses, it can help you perform under pressure and motivate you to do your best. But when you’re constantly running in emergency mode, your mind and body pay the price. You can protect yourself by recognizing the signs and symptoms of stress and taking steps to reduce its harmful effects.

 

The Body’s Stress Response

The Body’s Stress ResponseWhen you perceive a threat, your nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones rouse the body for emergency action.

 

Your heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and your senses become sharper. These physical changes increase your strength and stamina, speed your reaction time, and enhance your focus—preparing you to either fight or flee from the danger at hand.

 

Stress is a normal physical response to events that make you feel threatened or upset your balance in some way. When you sense danger—whether it’s real or imagined—the body’s defenses kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction, or the stress response.

 

The stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, it helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save your life—giving you extra strength to defend yourself, for example, or spurring you to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident.

 

The stress response also helps you rise to meet challenges. Stress is what keeps you on your toes during a presentation at work, sharpens your concentration when you’re attempting the game-winning free throw, or drives you to study for an exam when you’d rather be watching TV.

 

But beyond a certain point, stress stops being helpful and starts causing major damage to your health, your mood, your productivity, your relationships, and your quality of life.

 

How do you respond to stress?

It’s important to learn how to recognize when your stress levels are out of control. The most dangerous thing about stress is how easily it can creep up on you. You get used to it. It starts to feels familiar even normal. You don’t notice how much it’s affecting you, even as it takes a heavy toll.

The signs and symptoms of stress overload can be almost anything. Stress affects the mind, body, and behavior in many ways, and everyone experiences stress differently.

 

Stress doesn’t always look stressful

Psychologist Connie Lillas uses a driving analogy to describe the three most common ways people respond when they’re overwhelmed by stress:

 

Foot on the gas – An angry or agitated stress response. You’re heated, keyed up, overly emotional, and unable to sit still.

Foot on the brake – A withdrawn or depressed stress response. You shut down, space out, and show very little energy or emotion.

Foot on both – A tense and frozen stress response. You “freeze” under pressure and can’t do anything. You look paralyzed, but under the surface you’re extremely agitated.

Signs and symptoms of stress overload

The following table lists some of the common warning signs and symptoms of stress. The more signs and symptoms you notice in yourself, the closer you may be to stress overload.

 

Stress Warning Signs and Symptoms

Cognitive Symptoms     Emotional Symptoms

Memory problems

Inability to concentrate

Poor judgment

Seeing only the negative

Anxious or racing thoughts

Constant worrying

Moodiness

Irritability or short temper

Agitation, inability to relax

Feeling overwhelmed

Sense of loneliness and isolation

Depression or general unhappiness

Physical Symptoms        Behavioral Symptoms

Aches and pains

Diarrhea or constipation

Nausea, dizziness

Chest pain, rapid heartbeat

Loss of sex drive

Frequent colds

Eating more or less

Sleeping too much or too little

Isolating yourself from others

Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities

Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax

Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)

Keep in mind that the signs and symptoms of stress can also be caused by other psychological and medical problems. If you’re experiencing any of the warning signs of stress, it’s important to see a doctor for a full evaluation. Your doctor can help you determine whether or not your symptoms are stress-related.

 

How much stress is too much?

Because of the widespread damage stress can cause, it’s important to know your own limit. But just how much stress is “too much” differs from person to person. Some people roll with the punches, while others crumble at the slightest obstacle or frustration. Some people even seem to thrive on the excitement and challenge of a high-stress lifestyle.

 

Your ability to tolerate stress depends on many factors, including the quality of your relationships, your general outlook on life, your emotional intelligence, and genetics.

 

Things that influence your stress tolerance level

Your support network – A strong network of supportive friends and family members is an enormous buffer against life’s stressors. On the flip side, the more lonely and isolated you are, the greater your vulnerability to stress.

Your sense of control – If you have confidence in yourself and your ability to influence events and persevere through challenges, it’s easier to take stress in stride. People who are vulnerable to stress tend to feel like things are out of their control.

Your attitude and outlook – Stress-hardy people have an optimistic attitude. They tend to embrace challenges, have a strong sense of humor, accept that change is a part of life, and believe in a higher power or purpose.

Your ability to deal with your emotions – You’re extremely vulnerable to stress if you don’t know how to calm and soothe yourself when you’re feeling sad, angry, or afraid. The ability to bring your emotions into balance helps you bounce back from adversity.

Your knowledge and preparation – The more you know about a stressful situation, including how long it will last and what to expect, the easier it is to cope. For example, if you go into surgery with a realistic picture of what to expect post-op, a painful recovery will be less traumatic than if you were expecting to bounce back immediately.

Am I in control of stress, or is stress controlling me?

When I feel agitated, do I know how to quickly calm and soothe myself?

Can I easily let go of my anger?

Can I turn to others at work to help me calm down and feel better?

When I come home at night, do I walk in the door feeling alert and relaxed?

Am I seldom distracted or moody?

Am I able to recognize upsets that others seem to be experiencing?

Do I easily turn to friends or family members for a calming influence?

When my energy is low, do I know how to boost it?

Causes of stress

The situations and pressures that cause stress are known as stressors. We usually think of stressors as being negative, such as an exhausting work schedule or a rocky relationship. However, anything that puts high demands on you or forces you to adjust can be stressful. This includes positive events such as getting married, buying a house, going to college, or receiving a promotion.

 

What causes stress depends, at least in part, on your perception of it. Something that’s stressful to you may not faze someone else; they may even enjoy it. For example, your morning commute may make you anxious and tense because you worry that traffic will make you late. Others, however, may find the trip relaxing because they allow more than enough time and enjoy listening to music while they drive.

 

Common external causes of stress

Major life changes

Work

Relationship difficulties

Financial problems

Being too busy

Children and family

Common internal causes of stress

Not all stress is caused by external factors. Stress can also be self-generated:

 

Inability to accept uncertainty

Pessimism

Negative self-talk

Unrealistic expectations

Perfectionism

Lack of assertiveness

What’s stressful for you?

What’s stressful for you may be quite different from what’s stressful to someone else. For example:

Karen is terrified of getting up in front of people to perform or speak, while her best friend lives for the spotlight.

Phil thrives under pressure and performs best when he has a tight deadline, while his co-worker, Matt, shuts down when work demands escalate.

Anita enjoys helping her elderly parents. Her sister, Constance, helps out as well but finds the demands of caretaking very stressful.

Richard doesn’t hesitate to send food back or complain about bad service when eating out, while his wife, Miranda, finds it much too stressful to complain.

Effects of chronic stress

The body doesn’t distinguish between physical and psychological threats. When you’re stressed over a busy schedule, an argument with a friend, a traffic jam, or a mountain of bills, your body reacts just as strongly as if you were facing a life-or-death situation. If you have a lot of responsibilities and worries, your emergency stress response may be “on” most of the time. The more your body’s stress system is activated, the harder it is to shut off.

 

Long-term exposure to stress can lead to serious health problems. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. It can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility, and speed up the aging process. Long-term stress can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.

 

Many health problems are caused or exacerbated by stress, including:

Pain of any kind

Heart disease

Digestive problems

Sleep problems

Depression

Obesity

Autoimmune diseases

Skin conditions, such as eczema

Dealing with stress and its symptoms

While unchecked stress is undeniably damaging, there are many things you can do to reduce its impact and cope with symptoms.

 

Learn how to manage stress

You may feel like the stress in your life is out of your control, but you can always control the way you respond. Managing stress is all about taking charge: taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems. Stress management involves changing the stressful situation when you can, changing your reaction when you can’t, taking care of yourself, and making time for rest and relaxation.

 

Learn how to relax

You can’t completely eliminate stress from your life, but you can control how much it affects you. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the opposite of the stress response. When practiced regularly, these activities lead to a reduction in your everyday stress levels and a boost in your feelings of joy and serenity. They also increase your ability to stay calm and collected under pressure.

 

Learn quick stress relief

Learn about changes you can make in responding to stress

Everybody has the power to reduce the impact of stress as it’s happening in that moment. With practice, you can learn to spot stressors and stay in control when the pressure builds. Sensory stress-busting techniques give you a powerful tool for staying clear-headed and in control in the middle of stressful situations. They give you the confidence to face challenges, knowing that you have the ability to rapidly bring yourself back into balance.

 

 

THE WAYS OF STRESS MANAGEMENT/ STRESİ YÖNETMENİN YOLLARI

 

Stress Management

It may seem that there’s nothing you can do about stress. The bills won’t stop coming, there will never be more hours in the day, and your career and family responsibilities will always be demanding. But you have more control than you might think. In fact, the simple realization that you’re in control of your life is the foundation of stress management. Managing stress is all about taking charge: of your thoughts, emotions, schedule, and the way you deal with problems

Stress management starts with identifying the sources of stress in your life. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Your true sources of stress aren’t always obvious, and it’s all too easy to overlook your own stress-inducing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Sure, you may know that you’re constantly worried about work deadlines. But maybe it’s your procrastination, rather than the actual job demands, that leads to deadline stress.

 

To identify your true sources of stress, look closely at your habits, attitude, and excuses:

 

Do you explain away stress as temporary (“I just have a million things going on right now”) even though you can’t remember the last time you took a breather?

Do you define stress as an integral part of your work or home life (“Things are always crazy around here”) or as a part of your personality (“I have a lot of nervous energy, that’s all”).

Do you blame your stress on other people or outside events, or view it as entirely normal and unexceptional?

Until you accept responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining it, your stress level will remain outside your control.

 

Start a Stress Journal

A stress journal can help you identify the regular stressors in your life and the way you deal with them. Each time you feel stressed, keep track of it in your journal. As you keep a daily log, you will begin to see patterns and common themes. Write down:

What caused your stress (make a guess if you’re unsure)

How you felt, both physically and emotionally

How you acted in response

What you did to make yourself feel better

Look at how you currently cope with stress

Think about the ways you currently manage and cope with stress in your life. Your stress journal can help you identify them. Are your coping strategies healthy or unhealthy, helpful or unproductive? Unfortunately, many people cope with stress in ways that compound the problem.

 

Unhealthy ways of coping with stress

These coping strategies may temporarily reduce stress, but they cause more damage in the long run:

 

Smoking

Drinking too much

Overeating or undereating

Zoning out for hours in front of the TV or computer

Withdrawing from friends, family, and activities

Using pills or drugs to relax

Sleeping too much

Procrastinating

Filling up every minute of the day to avoid facing problems

Taking out your stress on others (lashing out, angry outbursts, physical violence)

Learning healthier ways to manage stress

If your methods of coping with stress aren’t contributing to your greater emotional and physical health, it’s time to find healthier ones. There are many healthy ways to manage and cope with stress, but they all require change. You can either change the situation or change your reaction. When deciding which option to choose, it’s helpful to think of the four As: avoid, alter, adapt, or accept.

 

Since everyone has a unique response to stress, there is no “one size fits all” solution to managing it. No single method works for everyone or in every situation, so experiment with different techniques and strategies. Focus on what makes you feel calm and in control.

 

Dealing with Stressful Situations: The Four A’s

Change the situation:

Avoid the stressor

Alter the stressor

Change your reaction:

Adapt to the stressor

Accept the stressor

Stress management strategy #1: Avoid unnecessary stress

Not all stress can be avoided, and it’s not healthy to avoid a situation that needs to be addressed. You may be surprised, however, by the number of stressors in your life that you can eliminate.

 

Learn how to say “no” – Know your limits and stick to them. Whether in your personal or professional life, refuse to accept added responsibilities when you’re close to reaching them. Taking on more than you can handle is a surefire recipe for stress.

Avoid people who stress you out – If someone consistently causes stress in your life and you can’t turn the relationship around, limit the amount of time you spend with that person or end the relationship entirely.

Take control of your environment – If the evening news makes you anxious, turn the TV off. If traffic’s got you tense, take a longer but less-traveled route. If going to the market is an unpleasant chore, do your grocery shopping online.

Avoid hot-button topics – If you get upset over religion or politics, cross them off your conversation list. If you repeatedly argue about the same subject with the same people, stop bringing it up or excuse yourself when it’s the topic of discussion.

Pare down your to-do list – Analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. If you’ve got too much on your plate, distinguish between the “shoulds” and the “musts.” Drop tasks that aren’t truly necessary to the bottom of the list or eliminate them entirely.

Stress management strategy #2: Alter the situation

If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Figure out what you can do to change things so the problem doesn’t present itself in the future. Often, this involves changing the way you communicate and operate in your daily life.

 

Express your feelings instead of bottling them up. If something or someone is bothering you, communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way. If you don’t voice your feelings, resentment will build and the situation will likely remain the same.

Be willing to compromise. When you ask someone to change their behavior, be willing to do the same. If you both are willing to bend at least a little, you’ll have a good chance of finding a happy middle ground.

Be more assertive. Don’t take a backseat in your own life. Deal with problems head on, doing your best to anticipate and prevent them. If you’ve got an exam to study for and your chatty roommate just got home, say up front that you only have five minutes to talk.

Manage your time better. Poor time management can cause a lot of stress. When you’re stretched too thin and running behind, it’s hard to stay calm and focused. But if you plan ahead and make sure you don’t overextend yourself, you can alter the amount of stress you’re under.

Stress management strategy #3: Adapt to the stressor

If you can’t change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.

 

Reframe problems. Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Rather than fuming about a traffic jam, look at it as an opportunity to pause and regroup, listen to your favorite radio station, or enjoy some alone time.

Look at the big picture. Take perspective of the stressful situation. Ask yourself how important it will be in the long run. Will it matter in a month? A year? Is it really worth getting upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere.

Adjust your standards. Perfectionism is a major source of avoidable stress. Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others, and learn to be okay with “good enough.”

Focus on the positive. When stress is getting you down, take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts. This simple strategy can help you keep things in perspective.

Adjusting Your Attitude

How you think can have a profound effect on your emotional and physical well-being. Each time you think a negative thought about yourself, your body reacts as if it were in the throes of a tension-filled situation. If you see good things about yourself, you are more likely to feel good; the reverse is also true. Eliminate words such as “always,” “never,” “should,” and “must.” These are telltale marks of self-defeating thoughts.

Stress management strategy #4: Accept the things you can’t change

Some sources of stress are unavoidable. You can’t prevent or change stressors such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or a national recession. In such cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change.

 

Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Many things in life are beyond our control— particularly the behavior of other people. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems.

Look for the upside. As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” When facing major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth. If your own poor choices contributed to a stressful situation, reflect on them and learn from your mistakes.

Share your feelings. Talk to a trusted friend or make an appointment with a therapist. Expressing what you’re going through can be very cathartic, even if there’s nothing you can do to alter the stressful situation.

Learn to forgive. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and that people make mistakes. Let go of anger and resentments. Free yourself from negative energy by forgiving and moving on.

Stress management strategy #5: Make time for fun and relaxation

Beyond a take-charge approach and a positive attitude, you can reduce stress in your life by nurturing yourself. If you regularly make time for fun and relaxation, you’ll be in a better place to handle life’s stressors when they inevitably come.

 

Healthy ways to relax and recharge

Go for a walk.

Spend time in nature.

Call a good friend.

Sweat out tension with a good workout.

Write in your journal.

Take a long bath.

Light scented candles.

Savor a warm cup of coffee or tea.

Play with a pet.

Work in your garden.

Get a massage.

Curl up with a good book.

Listen to music.

Watch a comedy.

Don’t get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that you forget to take care of your own needs. Nurturing yourself is a necessity, not a luxury.

 

Set aside relaxation time. Include rest and relaxation in your daily schedule. Don’t allow other obligations to encroach. This is your time to take a break from all responsibilities and recharge your batteries.

Connect with others. Spend time with positive people who enhance your life. A strong support system will buffer you from the negative effects of stress.

Do something you enjoy every day. Make time for leisure activities that bring you joy, whether it be stargazing, playing the piano, or working on your bike.

Keep your sense of humor. This includes the ability to laugh at yourself. The act of laughing helps your body fight stress in a number of ways.

Stress management strategy #6: Adopt a healthy lifestyle

You can increase your resistance to stress by strengthening your physical health.

 

Exercise regularly. Physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress. Make time for at least 30 minutes of exercise, three times per week. Nothing beats aerobic exercise for releasing pent-up stress and tension.

Eat a healthy diet. Well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with stress, so be mindful of what you eat. Start your day right with breakfast, and keep your energy up and your mind clear with balanced, nutritious meals throughout the day.

Reduce caffeine and sugar. The temporary “highs” caffeine and sugar provide often end in with a crash in mood and energy. By reducing the amount of coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, and sugar snacks in your diet, you’ll feel more relaxed and you’ll sleep better.

Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. Self-medicating with alcohol or drugs may provide an easy escape from stress, but the relief is only temporary. Don’t avoid or mask the issue at hand; deal with problems head on and with a clear mind.

Get enough sleep. Adequate sleep fuels your mind, as well as your body. Feeling tired will increase your stress because it may cause you to think irrationally.

 

KISA SÜREDE STRESTEN KURTULMANIN YOLLARI/ QUIC RELEIF FROM STRESS AND ANXIETY

Stress Relief in the Moment

Managing Stress in Relationship

Ever wish a stress superhero could save you from traffic jams, chaotic meetings, or a toddler’s tantrums? Well, you can be your own stress-busting superhero. Everybody has the power to reduce the impact of stress as it’s happening in the moment. With practice, you can learn to spot stressors and stay in control when the pressure builds. Learning quick stress relief won’t happen overnight. Like any skill, it takes time, self-exploration and above all, practice. But think of it as an education with a huge payoff.

Recognizing stress is the first step in lessening its impact. Many of us spend so much time in a stressed state, we have forgotten what it feels like to be fully relaxed and alert. Being stressed out feels normal.

 What does it feel like to be calm and stress-free? You can see that “just right” inner balance in the smile of a happy baby—a face so full of joy it reminds adults of the balanced emotional state that most of us have misplaced. In adulthood, being balanced means maintaining a calm state of energy, alertness, and focus. Calmness is more than just feeling relaxed; being alert is an equally important aspect of finding the balance needed to withstand stress.

 If you don’t feel calm, alert, productive, and focused most of the time in your daily life, then too much stress may be a problem for you.

 Tips for recognizing when you’re stressed

Hush the voice that’s telling you, ‘Oh, I’m fine.” Notice how you’re breathing has changed. Are your muscles tense? Awareness of your physical response to stress will help regulate the tension when it occurs.

 When you’re tired, your eyes feel heavy and you might rest your head on your hand. When you’re happy, you laugh easily. And when you are stressed, your body lets you know that too. Try to get in the habit of paying attention to your body’s clues.

 Observe your muscles and insides. Are your muscles tight/sore? Is your stomach tight or sore? Are your hands clenched?

Observe your breath. Is your breath shallow? Place one hand on your belly, the other on your chest. Watch your hands rise and fall with each breath. Notice when you breathe fully or when you “forget” to breathe.

Identify your body’s stress response

Internally, we all respond to stress the same: blood pressure rises, the heart pumps faster, and muscles constrict. When stressed, our bodies work hard and drain our immune system. Externally, however, people tend to respond to stress in three different ways: some become angry and agitated, others space out or withdraw, and still others freeze up.

The best way to quickly relieve stress may relate to your specific stress response.

 How do you act when stressed?

When it comes to managing and reducing stress quickly in the middle of a heated situation, it’s important to be familiar with your specific stress response.

Overexcited stress response – If you tend to become angry, agitated, or keyed up under stress, you will respond best to stress relief activities that quiet you down.

Under excited stress response – If you tend to become depressed, withdrawn, or spaced out under stress, you will respond best to stress relief activities that are stimulating and that energize your nervous system.

Frozen stress response (both overexcited and under excited) – If you tend to freeze—speeding up in some ways while slowing down in others—your challenge is to identify stress relief activities that provide both safety and stimulation to help you “reboot” your system.

The basics of quick stress relief

There are countless techniques for preventing stress. Yoga and mindfulness meditation work wonders for improving coping skills. But who can take a moment to chant or meditate during a job interview or a disagreement with your spouse? For these situations, you need something more immediate and accessible. That’s when quick stress relief comes to the rescue.

 The speediest way to stamp out stress is by engaging one or more of your senses—your sense of sight, sound, taste, smell, touch, or movement—to rapidly calm and energize yourself.

 The key to practicing quick stress relief is learning what kind of sensory input helps your particular nervous system find calm and focus quickly. Everyone responds to sensory input a little differently, so an awareness of your preferences is essential for reducing stress.

 Talking to someone who listens: a rapid stress reducer

Want to know a quick social stress reliever? Talk to someone! It’s true, talking about your stress with a calm and balanced listener will make you feel better instantly. Although it’s not always realistic to have a pal close by to lean on, building and maintaining a friendship network is ultimately good for your mental health. Between quick stress relief techniques and good listeners, you’ll have all your bases covered.

Bring your senses to the rescue

Here comes the fun part. Remember exploring your senses in elementary school? Grownups can take a tip from grade school lessons by revisiting the senses and learning how they can help us prevent stress overload. Use the following exercises to identify the sensory experiences that work quickly and effectively to reduce stress for you.

 As you experiment, be as precise as possible. What is the most perfect image, the specific kind of sound, or type of movement that affects you the most? For example, if you’re a music lover, listen to many different artists and types of music until you find the song that instantly lifts and relaxes you.

 The examples listed below are intended to be a jumping-off point. It’s up to you to hone in on them and come up with additional things to try.

 Sights

If you’re a visual person, try to manage and relieve stress by surrounding yourself with soothing and uplifting images. You can also try closing your eyes and imagining the soothing images. Here are a few visually-based activities that may work as quick stress relievers:

Look at a cherished photo or a favorite memento.

Bring the outside indoors; buy a plant or some flowers to enliven your space.

Enjoy the beauty of nature–a garden, the beach, a park, or your own backyard.

Surround yourself with colors that lift your spirits.

Close your eyes and picture a situation or place that feels peaceful and rejuvenating.

Sound  

Are you sensitive to sounds and noises? Are you a music lover? If so, stress-relieving exercises that focus on your auditory sense may work particularly well. Experiment with the following sounds, noting how quickly your stress levels drop as you listen:

 Sing or hum a favorite tune. Listen to uplifting music.

Tune in to the soundtrack of nature—crashing waves, the wind rustling the trees, birds singing.

Buy a small fountain, so you can enjoy the soothing sound of running water in your home or office.

Hang wind chimes near an open window.

Smell & Scents

If you tend to zone out or freeze when stressed, surround yourself with smells that are energizing and invigorating. If you tend to become overly agitated under stress, look for scents that are comforting and calming.

 Light a scented candle or burn some incense.

Lie down in sheets scented with lavender.

Smell the roses—or another type of flower.

Enjoy the clean, fresh air in the great outdoors.

Spritz on your favorite perfume or cologne.

Touch  

Experiment with your sense of touch, playing with different tactile sensations. Focus on things you can feel that are relaxing and renewing. Use the following suggestions as a jumping-off point:

 Wrap yourself in a warm blanket.

Pet a dog or cat.

Hold a comforting object (a stuffed animal, a favorite memento).

Soak in a hot bath.

Give yourself a hand or neck massage.

Wear clothing that feels soft against your skin.

Taste    

Slowly savoring a favorite treat can be very relaxing, but mindless eating will only add to your stress and your waistline. The key is to indulge your sense of taste mindfully and in moderation. Eat slowly, focusing on the feel of the food in your mouth and the taste on your tongue:

 Chew a piece of sugarless gum.

Indulge in a small piece of dark chocolate.

Sip a steaming cup of coffee or tea or a refreshing cold drink.

Eat a perfectly ripe piece of fruit.

Enjoy a healthy, crunchy snack (celery, carrots, or trail mix).

Movement       

If you tend to shut down when you’re under stress, stress-relieving activities that get you moving may be particularly helpful. Anything that engages the muscles or gets you up and active can work. Here are a few suggestions:

 

Run in place or jump up and down.

Dance around.

Stretch or roll your head in circles.

Go for a short walk.

Squeeze a rubbery stress ball.

The power of imagination

Sensory-rich memories can also quickly reduce stress. After drawing upon your sensory toolbox becomes habit, try simply imagining vivid sensations when stress strikes. Believe it or not, the sheer memory of your baby’s face will have the same calming or energizing effects on your brain as seeing her photo. So if you can recall a strong sensation, you’ll never be without access to quick stress relief tools.

Tips for finding sensory inspiration

Inspiration is everywhere, from sights you see on your way to work to smells and objects around your home. Explore a variety of sensations so that no matter where you are you’ll always have something you can do to relax yourself. Here a few ideas to get you started:

 Memories. Think back to what you did as a child to calm down. If you had a blanket or stuffed toy, you might benefit from tactile stimulation. Try tying a textured scarf around your neck before an appointment or keeping a piece of soft suede in your pocket.

Watch others. Observing how others deal with stress can give you valuable insight. Baseball players often pop gum in their mouth before going up to bat. Singers often chat up the crowd before performing. Ask around about what people you know do to stay focused under pressure—it could work for you too.

Parents. Think back to what your parents did to blow off steam. Did your mother feel more relaxed after a long walk? Did your father do yard work after a hard day? Try some of the things they did to unwind; they might work for you too.

Take a break from technology

Taking a short hiatus from the television, computer, and cell phone will give you insight on what your senses respond to best. Here are some “unplugging” tips:

Try tuning into relaxing music instead of talk radio during your commute. Or try riding in silence for 10 minutes.

Stuck in a long line at the grocery store? Instead of talking on your cell phone, take a moment to people watch. Pay attention to what you hear and see.

Instead of checking e-mail while waiting for a meeting to begin, take a few deep breaths, look out the window, or sip some aromatic tea.

While waiting for an appointment, resist the urge to text and give yourself a hand massage instead.

Make quick stress relief a habit

Let’s get real. It’s not easy to remember to use our senses in the middle of a mini—or not so mini—crisis. At first, it will feel easier to just give into pressure and tense up. The truth is, quick stress relief takes practice, practice, and more practice. But with time, calling upon your senses will become second nature. Here’s how to make it habit:

 

Learning to use your senses to quickly manage stress is a little like learning to drive or to play golf. You don’t master the skill in one lesson; you have to practice until it becomes second nature. Once you have a variety of sensory tools you can depend on, you’ll be able to handle even the toughest of situations.

 

Start small. Instead of testing your quick stress relief tools on a source of major stress, start with a predictable low-level source of stress, like cooking dinner at the end of the day or sitting down to balance your checkbook.

Identify and target. Think of just one low-level stressor that you know will occur several times a week, such as commuting. Vow to target that particular stressor with quick stress relief every time. After a few weeks, target a second stressor. After a few weeks more, target a third stressor and so on.

Test-drive sensory input. Experiment with as much sensory input as possible. If you are practicing quick stress relief on your commute to work, bring a scented handkerchief with you one day, try music another day, and try a movement the next day.

Make “have fun” your motto. If something doesn’t work, don’t force it. Move on until you find your best fit.

Talk about it. Verbalizing your quick stress relief work will help integrate it into your life. It’s bound to start a fascinating conversation—everyone relates to the topic of stress.

Quick acting stress-busting tips

The best part of quick stress relief is the awareness that you have control over your surroundings. Even if you share a work area, you can personalize your space to serve as a “stress prevention zone” or to put quick stress relief within arm’s reach. We all have our stress hotspots. Where are yours?

 

Quick stress relief at home

Entertaining. Prevent pre-party jitters by playing lively music. Light candles. The flicker and scent will stimulate your senses. Wear clothes that make you feel relaxed and confident instead of stiff and uncomfortable.

Kitchen. Cool the kitchen commotion by breathing in the scent of every ingredient you use—even if you’re just opening cans. Delight in the delicate texture of an eggshell. Appreciate the weight of an onion.

Children and relationships. Prevent losing your cool during a spousal spat by breathing and squeezing the tips of your thumb and forefinger together. When your toddler has a tantrum, rub lotion into your hands then breathe in the scent.

Sleep. Too stressed to snooze? Try using a white noise machine for background sound or a humidifier with a diffuser for a light scent in the air.

Creating a sanctuary. If clutter is upsetting, spend 10 minutes each day to tidy and organize. Paint the walls with a fresh coat of your favorite calming color. Display photos and images that make you feel happy. Throw open the curtains and let in natural light whenever possible.

Quick stress relief at work

Meetings. During stressful sessions, stay connected to your breath. Massage the tips of your fingers. Wiggle your toes. Sip coffee.

On the phone. Inhale something energizing, like lemon, ginger, peppermint or coffee beans. While talking, stand up or pace back and forth to burn off excess energy. Conduct phone business outside when possible.

On the computer. Work standing up. Do knee-bends in 10-minute intervals. Wrap a soft scarf around your neck. Suck on a peppermint.

Lunch breaks. Take a walk around the block or in the parking lot. Listen to soothing music while eating. Have a quick chat with someone you love.

Your workspace. Place family photos on your desk and display images and mementos that remind you of your life outside the office.

 

 

STRESLE BAŞ BELASI DEĞİLDİR/ THE STRESS IS NOT A NUISANCE

Tips on Using Relaxation Exercises to Relieve Stress

Practice Yoga & Tai Chi To Get Rid of Stress and Anxiety

 

 Practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga and tai chi can help you achieve the relaxation response, a state of deep calmness that counteracts the negative effects of stress. When practiced regularly, these activities can lead to a reduction in everyday stress levels, anxiety, and muscle tension as well as an improvement in mood, energy, and focus.

Learning the basics of yoga and tai chi is straightforward, but maximizing the stress-relieving benefits requires regular practice. As a beginner, you may benefit by learning from a qualified instructor to ensure you’re performing the poses and movements correctly. You can then continue to practice alone or with others.

Yoga

There are many different types of yoga. As well as the popular types listed below, there are many yoga classes modified for different needs, such as prenatal yoga, yoga for seniors, and adaptive yoga (modified for disabilities). Most yoga sessions begin with a series of poses to warm up the body, and most sessions end with some type of relaxation exercise.

 

Type of Yoga     Involves              Best For               Not For

Gentle yoga or Satyananda

Focuses on slow stretches, flexibility, deep breathing

Beginners, stress reduction

Those looking for a vigorous workout

Hatha

Reasonably gentle. Involves stretching, breathing work

Beginners, older adults, stress reduction

An aerobic, calorie-burning workout

Iyengar

Focuses on precise body alignment and improving balance. Uses blocks and straps to maintain poses longer

Those looking for more fitness benefits as well as deep relaxation

While more vigorous, still not a total body workout

Kundalini

Fast-paced routine of poses focusing on different ways of breathing, chanting, and meditation

Combining a good workout with spirituality

Those uncomfortable with chanting or the spiritual aspect

Hot yoga  (Bikram or Moshka)

Takes place in heated rooms (more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit). Focus on stamina and purification

Intense, sweaty workout for those with higher fitness levels

Anyone with high blood pressure, heart conditions, or those who may react adversely to hot conditions

Power yoga or Ashtanga

Vigorous, fast-paced to build flexibility, strength, concentration, and stamina

Strong workout, improving fitness and weight loss

A relaxing, contemplative experience

Tips for starting yoga:

Consider your fitness level and any medical issues before joining a yoga class. Talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise program, especially if you have a health problem. Also talk to the instructor. Many will be able to provide modified poses for beginners or those with special health concerns.

Look for a low-pressure environment where you can learn at your own pace. Don’t extend yourself beyond what feels comfortable, and always back off of a pose at the first sign of pain. A good teacher can show you alternate poses for ones that are too challenging for your health or fitness level.

Dress comfortably in clothing that allows your body a full range of motion. Yoga is practiced with bare feet, so wear shoes you can quickly slip on and off before and after class.

Finding a yoga class

You can learn yoga from an instructional book, DVD, or website, but the best way is to learn from a competent yoga instructor. 

 

You can look for yoga classes at local gyms, YMCAs, and specialized yoga studios. Community centers or community colleges often offer yoga classes at discounted prices. Some yoga instructors offer private classes.

Many facilities will allow you to sit in and observe a class that interests you.

For a searchable, international directory of yoga classes and trainers, see References and Resources section below.

Tai Chi

As with yoga, tai chi is best learned when taught by an instructor. Although tai chi is normally very safe and gentle, be sure to discuss any health or mobility concerns with your instructor.

 

How tai chi works

Tai chi is based on the premise that wellness and relaxation requires the body’s bio energy, or Qi, to flow smoothly around the body. The muscle movements in tai chi exercises are designed to stimulate the flow of Qi through the body and the major organs.

 

Tai chi focuses on correct body posture and spinal alignment in order to release tension, improve the digestive system, and remove stress from the back. By moving weight from one leg to another, and alternately raising the arms, legs and hands, tai chi varies the weight on different joints increases the flow of nutrients into the joint, increasing flexibility and range of motion. These flowing movements also strengthen muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

 

By focusing your mind on the movements and your breathing, you keep your attention on the present, which clears the mind and leads to a relaxed state.

 

Finding a tai chi class

Tai chi classes are frequently offered in community centers, senior centers, and local community colleges.

 

For many of us, relaxation means zoning out in front of the TV at the end of a stressful day. But this does little to reduce the damaging effects of stress. To effectively combat stress, we need to activate the body’s natural relaxation response. You can do this by practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, rhythmic exercise, and yoga. Fitting these activities into your life can help reduce everyday stress and boost your energy and mood.

IN THIS ARTICLE:

The relaxation response

Finding the right relaxation technique

Breathing meditation

Progressive muscle relaxation

Body scan meditation

Mindfulness meditation

Visualization meditation

Yoga and tai chi

Make relaxation techniques fit your life

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The relaxation response: Bringing your nervous system back into balance

Stress is necessary for life. You need stress for creativity, learning, and your very survival. Stress is only harmful when it becomes overwhelming and interrupts the healthy state of equilibrium that your nervous system needs to remain in balance. Unfortunately, overwhelming stress has become an increasingly common characteristic of contemporary life. When stressors throw your nervous system out of balance, relaxation techniques can bring it back into a balanced state by producing the relaxation response, a state of deep calmness that is the polar opposite of the stress response.

 

When stress overwhelms your nervous system your body is flooded with chemicals that prepare you for “fight or flight”. While the stress response can be lifesaving in emergency situations where you need to act quickly, it wears your body down when constantly activated by the stresses of everyday life. The relaxation response puts the brakes on this heightened state of readiness and brings your body and mind back into a state of equilibrium.

 

Producing the relaxation response

Learn about obstacles to the relaxation response

 

Watch 3-min. video: Roadblocks to awareness

 

A variety of different relaxation techniques can help you bring your nervous system back into balance by producing the relaxation response. The relaxation response is not lying on the couch or sleeping but a mentally active process that leaves the body relaxed, calm, and focused.

 

Learning the basics of these relaxation techniques isn’t difficult, but it does take practice. Most stress experts recommend setting aside at least 10 to 20 minutes a day for your relaxation practice. If you’d like to get even more stress relief, aim for 30 minutes to an hour. If that sounds like a daunting commitment, remember that many of these techniques can be incorporated into your existing daily schedule—practiced at your desk over lunch or on the bus during your morning commute.

 

Finding the relaxation technique that’s best for you

There is no single relaxation technique that is best for everyone. When choosing a relaxation technique, consider your specific needs, preferences, fitness level, and the way you tend to react to stress. The right relaxation technique is the one that resonates with you, fits your lifestyle, and is able to focus your mind and interrupt your everyday thoughts in order to elicit the relaxation response. In many cases, you may find that alternating or combining different techniques will keep you motivated and provide you with the best results.

 

How you react to stress may influence the relaxation technique that works best for you:

 

How do you react to stress?

Do you tend to become angry, agitated, or keyed up?

You may respond best to relaxation techniques that quiet you down, such as meditation, deep breathing, or guided imagery

Do you tend to become depressed, withdrawn, or spaced out?

You may respond best to relaxation techniques that are stimulating and that energize your nervous system, such as rhythmic exercise

Do you tend to freeze-speeding up internally, while slowing down externally?

Your challenge is to identify relaxation techniques that provide both safety and stimulation to help you “reboot” your system. Techniques such as mindfulness walking or power yoga might work well for you

Do you need alone time or social stimulation?

If you crave solitude, solo relaxation techniques such as meditation or progressive muscle relaxation will give you the space to quiet your mind and recharge your batteries. If you crave social interaction, a class setting will give you the stimulation and support you’re looking for. Practicing with others may also help you stay motivated.

 

Relaxation technique 1: Breathing meditation for stress relief

With its focus on full, cleansing breaths, deep breathing is a simple, yet powerful, relaxation technique. It’s easy to learn, can be practiced almost anywhere, and provides a quick way to get your stress levels in check. Deep breathing is the cornerstone of many other relaxation practices, too, and can be combined with other relaxing elements such as aromatherapy and music. All you really need is a few minutes and a place to stretch out.

 

Practicing deep breathing meditation

The key to deep breathing is to breathe deeply from the abdomen, getting as much fresh air as possible in your lungs. When you take deep breaths from the abdomen, rather than shallow breaths from your upper chest, you inhale more oxygen. The more oxygen you get, the less tense, short of breath, and anxious you feel.

 

Sit comfortably with your back straight. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.

Breathe in through your nose. The hand on your stomach should rise. The hand on your chest should move very little.

Exhale through your mouth, pushing out as much air as you can while contracting your abdominal muscles. The hand on your stomach should move in as you exhale, but your other hand should move very little.

Continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to inhale enough so that your lower abdomen rises and falls. Count slowly as you exhale.

If you find it difficult breathing from your abdomen while sitting up, try lying on the floor. Put a small book on your stomach, and try to breathe so that the book rises as you inhale and falls as you exhale.

 

Relaxation technique 2: Progressive muscle relaxation for stress relief

Progressive muscle relaxation involves a two-step process in which you systematically tense and relax different muscle groups in the body.

 

With regular practice, progressive muscle relaxation gives you an intimate familiarity with what tension—as well as complete relaxation—feels like in different parts of the body. This awareness helps you spot and counteract the first signs of the muscular tension that accompanies stress. And as your body relaxes, so will your mind. You can combine deep breathing with progressive muscle relaxation for an additional level of stress relief.

 

Practicing progressive muscle relaxation

Before practicing Progressive Muscle Relaxation, consult with your doctor if you have a history of muscle spasms, back problems, or other serious injuries that may be aggravated by tensing muscles.

 

Most progressive muscle relaxation practitioners start at the feet and work their way up to the face. For a sequence of muscle groups to follow, see the box below.

 

Loosen your clothing, take off your shoes, and get comfortable.

Take a few minutes to relax, breathing in and out in slow, deep breaths.

When you’re relaxed and ready to start, shift your attention to your right foot. Take a moment to focus on the way it feels.

Slowly tense the muscles in your right foot, squeezing as tightly as you can. Hold for a count of 10.

Relax your right foot. Focus on the tension flowing away and the way your foot feels as it becomes limp and loose.

Stay in this relaxed state for a moment, breathing deeply and slowly.

When you’re ready, shift your attention to your left foot. Follow the same sequence of muscle tension and release.

Move slowly up through your body, contracting and relaxing the muscle groups as you go.

It may take some practice at first, but try not to tense muscles other than those intended.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation Sequence

The most popular sequence runs as follows:

Right foot*

Left foot

Right calf

Left calf

Right thigh

Left thigh

Hips and buttocks

Stomach

Chest

Back

Right arm and hand

Left arm and hand

Neck and shoulders

Face

* If you are left-handed you may want to begin with your left foot instead.

Relaxation technique 3: Body scan meditation for stress relief

A body scan is similar to progressive muscle relaxation except, instead of tensing and relaxing muscles, you simply focus on the sensations in each part of your body.

 

Practicing body scan meditation

Lie on your back, legs uncrossed, arms relaxed at your sides, eyes open or closed. Focus on your breathing , allowing your stomach to rise as you inhale and fall as you exhale. Breathe deeply for about two minutes, until you start to feel comfortable and relaxed.

Turn your focus to the toes of your right foot. Notice any sensations you feel while continuing to also focus on your breathing. Imagine each deep breath flowing to your toes. Remain focused on this area for one to two minutes.

Move your focus to the sole of your right foot. Tune in to any sensations you feel in that part of your body and imagine each breath flowing from the sole of your foot. After one or two minutes, move your focus to your right ankle and repeat. Move to your calf, knee, thigh, hip, and then repeat the sequence for your left leg. From there, move up the torso, through the lower back and abdomen, the upper back and chest, and the shoulders. Pay close attention to any area of the body that causes you pain or discomfort.

Move your focus to the fingers on your right hand and then move up to the wrist,  forearm, elbow, upper arm, and shoulder. Repeat for your left arm. Then move through the neck and throat, and finally all the regions of your face, the back of the head, and the top of the head. Pay close attention to your jaw, chin, lips, tongue, nose, cheeks, eyes, forehead, temples and scalp. When you reach the very top of your head, let your breath reach out beyond your body and imagine yourself hovering above yourself.

After completing the body scan, relax for a while in silence and stillness, noting how your body feels. Then open your eyes slowly. Take a moment to stretch, if necessary.

For a guided body scan meditation, see the Resources section below.

 

Relaxation technique 4: Mindfulness for stress relief

Mindfulness is the ability to remain aware of how you’re feeling right now, your “moment-to-moment” experience—both internal and external. Thinking about the past—blaming and judging yourself—or worrying about the future can often lead to a degree of stress that is overwhelming. But by staying calm and focused in the present moment, you can bring your nervous system back into balance. Mindfulness can be applied to activities such as walking, exercising, eating, or meditation.

 

Meditations that cultivate mindfulness have long been used to reduce overwhelming stress. Some of these meditations bring you into the present by focusing your attention on a single repetitive action, such as your breathing, a few repeated words, or flickering light from a candle. Other forms of mindfulness meditation encourage you to follow and then release internal thoughts or sensations.

 

Practicing mindfulness meditation

Key points in mindfulness mediation are:

 

A quiet environment. Choose a secluded place in your home, office, garden, place of worship, or in the great outdoors where you can relax without distractions or interruptions.

A comfortable position. Get comfortable, but avoid lying down as this may lead to you falling asleep. Sit up with your spine straight, either in a chair or on the floor. You can also try a cross-legged or lotus position.

A point of focus. This point can be internal – a feeling or imaginary scene – or something external – a flame or meaningful word or phrase that you repeat it throughout your session. You may meditate with eyes open or closed. Also choose to focus on an object in your surroundings to enhance your concentration, or alternately, you can close your eyes.

An observant, noncritical attitude. Don’t worry about distracting thoughts that go through your mind or about how well you’re doing. If thoughts intrude during your relaxation session, don’t fight them. Instead, gently turn your attention back to your point of focus.

Relaxation technique 5: Visualization meditation for stress relief

Visualization, or guided imagery, is a variation on traditional meditation that requires you to employ not only your visual sense, but also your sense of taste, touch, smell, and sound. When used as a relaxation technique, visualization involves imagining a scene in which you feel at peace, free to let go of all tension and anxiety.

 

Choose whatever setting is most calming to you, whether it’s a tropical beach, a favorite childhood spot, or a quiet wooded glen. You can do this visualization exercise on your own in silence, while listening to soothing music, or with a therapist (or an audio recording of a therapist) guiding you through the imagery. To help you employ your sense of hearing you can use a sound machine or download sounds that match your chosen setting—the sound of ocean waves if you’ve chosen a beach, for example.

 

Practicing visualization

Find a quiet, relaxed place. Beginners sometimes fall asleep during a visualization meditation, so you might try sitting up or standing.

 

Close your eyes and let your worries drift away. Imagine your restful place. Picture it as vividly as you can—everything you can see, hear, smell, and feel. Visualization works best if you incorporate as many sensory details as possible, using at least three of your senses. When visualizing, choose imagery that appeals to you; don’t select images because someone else suggests them, or because you think they should be appealing. Let your own images come up and work for you.

 

If you are thinking about a dock on a quiet lake, for example:

 

Walk slowly around the dock and notice the colors and textures around you.

Spend some time exploring each of your senses.

See the sun setting over the water.

Hear the birds singing.

Smell the pine trees.

Feel the cool water on your bare feet.

Taste the fresh, clean air.

Enjoy the feeling of deep relaxation that envelopes you as you slowly explore your restful place. When you are ready, gently open your eyes and come back to the present.

 

Don’t worry if you sometimes zone out or lose track of where you are during a guided imagery session.  This is normal. You may also experience feelings of stiffness or heaviness in your limbs, minor, involuntary muscle-movements, or even cough or yawn. Again, these are normal responses.

 

Relaxation technique 6: Yoga and tai chi for stress relief

Yoga involves a series of both moving and stationary poses, combined with deep breathing. As well as reducing anxiety and stress, yoga can also improve flexibility, strength, balance, and stamina. Practiced regularly, it can also strengthen the relaxation response in your daily life. Since injuries can happen when yoga is practiced incorrectly, it’s best to learn by attending group classes, hiring a private teacher, or at least following video instructions.

 

What type of yoga is best for stress?

Although almost all yoga classes end in a relaxation pose, classes that emphasize slow, steady movement, deep breathing, and gentle stretching are best for stress relief.

Satyananda is a traditional form of yoga. It features gentle poses, deep relaxation, and meditation, making it suitable for beginners as well as anyone primarily looking for stress reduction.

Hatha yoga is also reasonably gentle way to relieve stress and is suitable for beginners. Alternately, look for labels like gentle, for stress relief, or for beginners when selecting a yoga class.

Power yoga, with its intense poses and focus on fitness, is better suited to those looking for stimulation as well as relaxation.

If you’re unsure whether a specific yoga class is appropriate for stress relief, call the studio or ask the teacher.

Tai chi

If you’ve ever seen a group of people in the park slowly moving in synch, you’ve probably witnessed tai chi. Tai chi is a self-paced, non-competitive series of slow, flowing body movements. These movements emphasize concentration, relaxation, and the conscious circulation of vital energy throughout the body. Though tai chi has its roots in martial arts, today it is primarily practiced as a way of calming the mind, conditioning the body, and reducing stress. As in meditation, tai chi practitioners focus on their breathing and keeping their attention in the present moment.

 

Tai chi is a safe, low-impact option for people of all ages and levels of fitness, including older adults and those recovering from injuries. Like yoga, once you’ve learned the basics of tai chi or qi gong, you can practice alone or with others, tailoring your sessions as you see fit.

 

Making relaxation techniques a part of your life

The best way to start and maintain a relaxation practice is to incorporate it into your daily routine. Between work, family, school, and other commitments, though, it can be tough for many people to find the time. Fortunately, many of the techniques can be practiced while you’re doing other things.

 

Rhythmic exercise as a mindfulness relaxation technique

Rhythmic exercise—such as running, walking, rowing, or cycling—is most effective at relieving stress when performed with relaxation in mind. As with meditation, mindfulness requires being fully engaged in the present moment, focusing your mind on how your body feels right now. As you exercise, focus on the physicality of your body’s movement and how your breathing complements that movement. If your mind wanders to other thoughts, gently return to focusing on your breathing and movement.

If walking or running, for example, focus on each step—the sensation of your feet touching the ground, the rhythm of your breath while moving, and the feeling of the wind against your face.

Tips for fitting relaxation techniques into your life

If possible, schedule a set time to practice each day. Set aside one or two periods each day. You may find that it’s easier to stick with your practice if you do it first thing in the morning, before other tasks and responsibilities get in the way.

Practice relaxation techniques while you’re doing other things. Meditate while commuting to work on a bus or train, or waiting for a dentist appointment. Try deep breathing while you’re doing housework or mowing the lawn. Mindfulness walking can be done while exercising your dog, walking to your car, or climbing the stairs at work instead of using the elevator. Once you’ve learned techniques such as tai chi, you can practice them in your office or in the park at lunchtime.

If you exercise, improve the relaxation benefits by adopting mindfulness. Instead of zoning out or staring at a TV as you exercise, try focusing your attention on your body. If you’re resistance training, for example, focus on coordinating your breathing with your movements and pay attention to how your body feels as you raise and lower the weights.

Avoid practicing when you’re sleepy. These techniques can relax you so much that they can make you very sleepy, especially if it’s close to bedtime. You will get the most benefit if you practice when you’re fully awake and alert. Do not practice after eating a heavy meal or while using drugs, tobacco, or alcohol.

Expect ups and downs. Don’t be discouraged if you skip a few days or even a few weeks. It happens. Just get started again and slowly build up to your old momentum.