In October 2015, The Atlantic published a post describing the process of becoming sick due to stress. The post outlines how hormones released as a result of prolonged stress can wreak havoc on the body. That stress has a profound and negative effect on the body is not news. The reason we like this article is because it makes a point to talk about how silly the advice “just relax” can be to someone battling chronic or severe stress. You know you have to relax and you would if you could, but you’re not sure how or where to start the battle.
And make no mistake, when you first start learning to soothe yourself, it will feel like a battle. As you work, though, you’ll find that the techniques we’re going to talk about here become something that do their jobs remarkably well.
Massage for Relieving Stress
The beneficial effects massage has on fighting stress, depression and other physical issues have been proven by science. Among other things, the physical pressure of a good massage can stimulate receptors in the brain to release hormones that help quell pain, boost your immune system and regulate emotional issues like depression and anxiety.
While it’s certainly possible to give yourself a massage from time to time, if your life is very stressful, seeing a massage therapist is also a good idea, as interpersonal touch is one of the keys of good mental health and massage provides that. Even if your day is too busy to see a massage therapist in a clinic or spa, you can hire an independent therapist to bring over a massage table once a week at a time that is convenient for you.
Yeah, yeah, you’ve heard it before. You know that working out is good for endorphins and stress relief. The problem is that you are so stressed out you don’t know where to find the energy or the time to fit in a proper workout.
Stop worrying about what you think of as “proper” when it comes to exercise. At this point, the goal is to get up and get moving. Work out a home using apps and videos. There is even a workout called The Seven Minute Workout. You can probably find seven minutes somewhere, right? Find a physical activity that you like to do and then do that. Don’t worry about following some guru or gym’s recommendations. Get up and get your blood pumping. That’s the goal.
If you are experiencing a very stressful episode one of the best ways to calm and soothe yourself, believe it or not, is by doing something crafty. Working with your hands can help you achieve a flow–where you’re focused on the task at hand and nothing else seems to matter. Knitting, crochet, and coloring in particular are helpful in stress reduction as the repetitive hand movements can be soothing to someone who is agitated and having difficulty sitting still. It’s also worth noting that smaller crafts like this are also easier on your budget and space restrictions than something larger like quilting or wood working.
A Word about Sleep
One of the best ways to deal with and work through stress is to make sure you’re regularly getting a good night’s sleep. Of course, getting good sleep when you’re stressed can be difficult. There are many natural remedies that can help you fall asleep, but if insomnia is a problem it’s worth talking to your doctor about exploring the use of a sleep aid.
There are many ways to fight back against stress, find gratitude, and to help yourself relax each day. We’ve talked about some of them here. Don’t panic if the first method you try doesn’t work for you. It can take time and the trial of a variety of relaxation techniques to find the one that sticks!