After reading that title you may have wondered if it means relaxation or the weather. If you live in a cold-weather area like I do, you’re probably experiencing the delightful tundra that we’ve found ourselves living in lately. This week has been bitter cold and as I write this, a blizzard is blowing in. The traffic on our country road where people usually view the posted speed limit as a loose suggestion, has slowed to a cautious crawl. In this weather, we have no choice but to “just chill.”
But that phrase typically conjures up a vision of relaxation. People usually say it in an effort to get someone to take it down a notch, relax, stop stressing. That begs the question…how do we relax? Stress is a fixture in our lives and while we can’t expect to live completely free of stress, great amounts of it can be detrimental to our overall health.
There’s fallout from having too much stress in our lives. Hair loss, tooth change and jaw pain from teeth grinding, stomach issues, difficulty sleeping, weight gain from increased cortisol levels, and even depression and anxiety disorders have all been associated with stress-gone-bad.
How do we get a handle on stress and keep it from invading our every thought and impeding our lives? Almost everyone has something that helps them reduce stress, an outlet. Some may give a punching bag a good beating, while others may find relaxation from a lengthy soak in a bubbly tub. Of course, taking a lovely vacation is (usually) a stress reliever.
There are several simple, no-cost things you can do for yourself on a daily basis to help reduce stress and promote relaxation in your life.
- Turn off all devices an hour before bed. This is hard to do for some of us, but it allows us to decompress and keeps the light beacons put off by phones, tablets, computers, and TV’s away from eyes, giving them a chance to adjust and relax.
- Reduce caffeine intake.
- Read. Put some good thoughts into your head before drifting off. Read a good book that isn’t violent or strife-filled. Even a magazine can help draw your thoughts from the stress of the day.
- Pray. Tell God about your day and give Him the concerns you may have. Let them go so you can rest. (Prayer is also helpful at all times of day or night).
- Consciously relax. Lying in a comfortable position start purposely relaxing each muscle from feet to ankles and on up until you’re relaxing the muscles in your face…if you don’t fall asleep first.
- Cuddle. Snuggle up to your mate or your favorite fur friend. It’s soothing and infuses some peace into you by knowing you are loved.
- Go to the gym or find a good exercise program you can do at home. No matter what your fitness level is, you can exercise and you should. Take a walk, do some simple yoga or Pilates moves, or jump on the family trampoline. You can find free exercise videos online for every level of strength and ability and some can be as short as five minutes, and everyone can spare five minutes a day.
- Run around in your yard. It’s free and it’s refreshing, especially in warm weather. Play catch with your child or chase after your dogs. You will feel so much better even after a few minutes.
- Create a happy place. Find a spot in your home whether it’s a favorite chair by a window with a view or an entire room. Let it be distraction-free with no electronics except maybe something to play music. Have some books nearby and comfortable blankets. Let it be a place where you are cozy and you can just “be”.
- Soak in a tub. Relax in a tub of hot, sudsy water with some great-smelling bath salts, close your eyes and let the tension drain away.
- Declutter. Think about how it feels to come home from a long day at work or of running errands and you open the door and the house is a mess. You feel chaotic, panicked maybe, overwhelmed for sure. Now imagine how it feels to open that same door and the house is in order. Maybe it’s not the house on the cover of Better Homes and Garden kind of meticulous, but it’s neat and it’s clean. You sigh and the tension falls off you because you know you can come inside and relax, and not feel stressed about the chores that still face you.
- Enjoy a hot mug of something. Tea is my comfort drink and it has been since I was child having tea with a bit of milk in a pretty pink teacup served lovingly by my Mom. It represents relaxation and nurturing to me and I still drink it every day. Find your (healthy) comfort drink and enjoy.
- Not forever, of course. But allow yourself to get away every now and then. Even if it’s for an afternoon, the change of pace and scenery can be incredibly refreshing. It can change your attitude and give you new perspective. Stepping outside your daily world for a day or even a week if you’re able, can rejuvenate and renew you more than you realize.
- From toxic relationships. I certainly don’t mean you should start weeding out the people in your life that give you the slightest bit of irritation. But do make good choices in this regard. All relationships (all!) require healthy boundaries. Learn to recognize what those should be in all the relationships in your life and work to maintain the boundaries. It’s okay to say ‘no’ to certain things and to certain people. If someone isn’t treating you properly or a relationship has become unhealthy, permit yourself to put some distance there and do what is best for you and your family.
It’s so important to do what we can to limit stress in our lives. This may not be easy but it’s wise and healthy. Take care of you and seek God daily. He will bring you the best kind of peace.