Stress management: How to relax and reduce stress
Living with high levels of stress is putting your entire well-being at risk.
We will introduce here two ways to relax the body and reduce stress.
You can find here an effective countermeasure against stress. Let's learn how to heat up the muscles, to make it possible to relax the mind.
Those methods have been introduced by Dr. Hiroaki KUMANO, specialist in psychosomatic medicine and in stress management.
Here are two methods to relax the body and mind. Loosening the muscles and warming the body.
1-1 . The way to loosen your muscles around your eyes.
As it's not so easy to "relax", we are first going to tense up the muscles, then release the tension. By tensing up and loosening your muscles, you can tell the difference between the two states. We are going to work on relaxing the area around the eyes.
- Start by lightly stretching your back muscles (without leaning back)
- Lightly close your eyes. And, as you breath in, apply strength to your eyes. Closing them tighter, tighter, tighter.
- Then, breath out, loosen the muscles around your eyes.
Do the same exercise (from 1 to 3) without opening your eyes between each exercise. At the end, you open your eyes.
You can certainly feel how it is when the tension is released.
The important part of this exercise is not in feeling the tension you apply, but to fully experience how it feels when the tension is released.
1-2 . Loosening of your shoulder muscles.
Let's try the shoulders. In the same manner, breathe in, and raise the shoulders.
Raise them, raise them, raise them...then, exhale while you let them drop.
Do it one more time. Up-up, up-up. You should feel completely relaxed.
For stiff shoulders, if you repeat this exercise every day, you should see a gradual improvement.
There is a reason why we worked on the area around the eyes as well as the shoulders. This is because when feeling nervous, or if stress is building up, there is a tendency of the forehead and the area around the eyes to become tense. And this is a difficult area where we can release tension. So, by intentionally releasing this stress, these areas, and the entire body, may become relaxed. Same with shoulders. Intentionally loosening the muscles, you can relax the entire body.
1-3 Loosening tension from the forehead.
Releasing the tension from the forehead is a little different from what we did, looking up, like this.
Breathing in, looking up, up, up... Then, let it go, lightly close your eyes.
If you do this, the tension in your forehead gets released.
2.Introduction to relax by warming your body.
Let's try another exercise. This exercise is to warm your body.
When stress builds up or when you're feeling nervous, the hands and feet tend to get cold. But, when you feel quite relaxed, the hands and feet tend to get very warm. Like a child, when they are relaxed and sleeping, their hands and feet are very warm.
So, if the body becomes warm, a person can become relaxed, physically and emotionally. With that in mind, we'll try to warm our body.
This method can be executed easily, even while seated. There are some things that you need to be careful of. People suffering from schizophrenia or have an acute case of clinical depression may worsen their condition by performing this exercise. Such people should discuss these matters with their physician.
Now, lean back, just a little. This is to relax your body as much as possible. Without slouching, lean back, barely touching the seat-back. Lightly closing your eyes, palms of both hands on top of your thighs. With your eyes closed, tell yourself, in your mind, "I'm becoming relaxed and the tension is slowly flowing down from my head, to my shoulders, to my arms and out of my body".
Do not try to force the tension out but try to see how it feels just to wait for the tension to flow out.
Next, with the palms of your hands on your thighs, focus on the warmth in this area. Imagine that the warmth is expanding to the entire surface of the palms of your hands, and tell yourself, "I am feeling relaxed and the palms of your hands are warm".
Next, focus on the warmth from both hands, up the arms, to both elbows.
And imagine that the warmth you felt in both hands are gradually making their way to your elbows. And with that image in your mind, start telling yourself,
"I'm relaxed and I'm feeling warm from my elbows to the tips of my fingers".
Then, start to focus on the warmth from your shoulders to your elbows. Feeling relaxed, you'll feel warm from your shoulders to the tips of your fingers.
" I'm relaxed and I'm feeling warmth from my shoulders to the tips of my fingers".
Moving on to arousal from relaxation. Keep your eyes closed, stretch your back and make a fist with both hands, completely outstretched. Spread all of your fingers apart. Lightly make a fist while exhaling. Once again, open your hands while breathing in. lightly make a fist while you exhale.
Next, cross your arms and stretch, raising your arms above your head. Breathe in and stretch upward, exhale while you lower your arms, and open your eyes.
This exercise is called the movement of deletion. It's important to avoid becoming dazed, so we'll do this fully awake.
If you have time, do this exercise before and after the movement of deletion, followed by one or more movements of deletion to loosen and warm the body.
Compared to the method of removing tension, this is time consuming.
Loosening the entire body takes time, and you should start to see results in 2 or 3 weeks, feeling relaxed around the shoulders and an improvement in overall condition. Continue this for a month, and the results should become quite clear.
The exercises for releasing tension are intended to be done when you're feeling some exhaustion, but the warming exercises should be done at a specific time.
For instance, daily, in the morning, at a particular time. Or every evening before you go to bed. If you do the exercises every day at a specific time, you should be able to achieve some good results. Even 5 minutes a day can be effective, so I'd like to recommend this as a daily exercise.
Stress Management methods to improve our behavior and reduce stress.
Depending on how you deal with stress, the effects on your body will change. You can remark stress management by writing out one's actions on the list. Here we will see how to change behavior and reduce stress
Modifying our behavior
When stress builds up, we all tend to overeat, or drink too much. Like eating an entire cake or drinking a lot of alcohol. Depending on how you deal with your stress, that can lead to illness or the built-up of another kind of stress. We'll see what actions need to be altered to relieve stress, guilt free, and how to deal with the original source of stress
Handling Stress by changing our habits
To handle stress, it would be better to alter our habits.
Many actions taken, to tentatively relieve stress don't solve any problems, but lead to bigger problems, and need to be changed. Instead of these, people need to take up activities that allow them to face their stress head-on as well as activities to remove the source of their stress. And coping, we can face stress and find relief. Here, we'll talk about assertion training, for stress removal.
Coping is dealing with something. Here it signifies an appropriate release or method to relieve stress. The most important aspect and the most vital point of coping is to think about it on a regular basis.
Coping with stress by writing one's actions.
Here's an example of coping.
A working mother of a young child has written a list of what she wants to do, and her thoughts.
Of the 100 items she wrote, we gathered 50 of them. Let's look at a few items.
- Go to a hot spring
- Wake up to see the sunrise
- Do some yoga
- Play with the child
- Get my husband to listen to my problems
- Support from the family is definitely required
- Enjoy the flavor of some expensive pudding
- Going to see the ocean
The working mother's comments were the following:
"In the beginning, all I could think of were common thoughts like going to the hot springs or travelling. But, the more I thought about it, I realized that looking at a guidebook, thinking about where I'd like to go, that alone was already entertaining and relaxing."
"Taking occasionally a longer bath time and enjoy it. I found that, if I just made that attempt, it relieved stress. After realizing that, for example, if I read a funny article about child raising, or if I have breakfast out on the balcony with fresh air, instead of indoors, this kind of thing, even while looking after a child, is something that can be done to relieve stress. So, If I start to feel stressed,
I can look through my coping list, choose something that I've written, and try it out." Without much effort, just try something simple.
After relieving stress, make sure to take positive actions for yourself.
Getting drunk, overeating, going on a spending spree can all have negative effects, so look for something other than those. And, try as many of the items that you have put on your list, and remember "Something was good today", "This was a better choice today" and built this sort of data in your mind. It is important to verify what happens when you do these things under different circumstances.
Learn how to be caring, understanding, diplomatic, and influential with the Assertion Training.
One of the greatest reasons for feeling stress is due to interpersonal relations.
So, by showing consideration to ourselves while relaying our feelings to our opponents, without causing them any distress, we should be able to remove the cause of our own stress. Practicing this, is what we call assertion training.
Is there anything we should be careful of in expressing that assertiveness?
First, you need to explain your present situation. The position where you stand. Like, I have plans for this evening. From there, let them know what you are feeling. Basically, "this is how I feel". Then, considering their position as well as your own, think of a compromise where the situation will become win-win, and discuss where to go from there. I think this would be the best way to follow.
For example, a wife prepares dinner while she is waiting for her husband to get home. The husband is supposed to get home at 8, so dinner is almost ready. Or, a bath has already been drawn. But the husband doesn't get home until 11. Without any prior notice, it's only natural for the wife to get upset. She may not even want to see her husband. When she does see him, she may react saying "Why are you always like this?" in response to that, the husband might just walk away and go into his den.
What kind of assertive expression should be used in this situation?
Something like, "I realize you're busy, but if you could have called or texted me, that would have helped so much".
This is perfect.
Being spoken to in such a manner, comes across as being very gentle, and the person you're talking to would be willing to listen a lot more.
If you approach the person angrily, even if you're right, the person wouldn't want to listen, and they might just walk away. By saying "I realize you're busy", it makes it easier for the other person to apologize.
How could we do this? Be capable of responding calmly when faced with this kind of situation.
Practice is the only way. Take notes of situations where you couldn't react as you would have desired or created an awkward situation. And at some other time, even if you're alone, think of how you should have handled yourself. Recall the situation and think of the words you should have said. Try saying kinder words. This is quite effective.
For instance, facing the mirror, before you go to bed. Try practicing this every night. This should work well.
Actions are often dismissed as a part of one's personality. But personality is the result of habits which have been formed through daily actions. If you think about it in this way, habits can be altered through practice.
Therefore, it is possible to change one's habits.
So, please, keep this in mind and keep practicing.