It's Monday morning when you wake up and realize you overslept. You are late to class or work and then proceed to worry about everything else that seems like you will never be able to get done during your busy day. If you are anything like me, this may sound like a typical week. Perhaps you feel stressed right now just thinking about this scenario or the week ahead of you.
To learn about the stress I was experiencing on a regular basis, I decided to sign up for a stress management course. In the beginning, signing up for a stress management class seemed like a great choice because it was a topic I did not know much about. I had no idea at the time that the class would help change the way I view life's events and stress in general.
Now I regularly engage in activities to better manage my stress levels as a result. I could go into a bunch of detail on how high levels of acute stress can negatively impact our body and overall life, but let's focus more on what can actually be done about it. Here are some of my favorite ways to decompress that you can try too!
When it comes to life's major stressors, it may take some time to understand what stress relieving techniques work best for you. I learned that partaking in activities I found enjoyable were the most relaxing and beneficial. Physical activity is one of my favorite ways to decompress.
Exercising is a wonderful choice if you enjoy being physically active or have a general interest in getting started. The release of endorphins that occurs while exercising can leave you feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day. Also, exercise can improve memory- which just might help you improve your grade on your next exam or accomplish tasks more efficiently at work, too. I personally enjoy doing any activities I can outdoors so it is important to try to find what you love to do.
Deep breathing, meditation, and yoga are also great tools to utilize when wanting to become more relaxed or even more focused on the goals you need to accomplish. A lack of sleep can be a major potential side effect of having high levels of stress and these three techniques can even aid in falling asleep faster if done so in the evening. In order to try these, you do not have to be extremely physically fit which makes them very versatile.
There are also a number of apps you can use to try meditation for free such as Calm and Headspace. The Nike Training Club app is free as well and includes both exercise and yoga routines that you can follow along with. This app has activities that are considered beginner, intermediate, and advanced to fit your personal needs.
Feeling sore and experiencing pain in various parts of your body may be the result of the tension resulting from stress. I have experienced a lot of discomfort in both my neck and my shoulders, so the final technique that I love and use on a regular basis is called progressive relaxation.
This process involves tensing the muscle groups you want to target momentarily and then relaxing them afterward. I tend to contract or raise my shoulders up to my ears for about 10 seconds and then relax them for the same amount of time. Repeating this process for even just ten minutes can train your mind and body to recognize the next time you are feeling the tension from stress by knowing how your muscles tense up when stressed. Identifying signs of stress can help you to eventually minimize them.
I expected to take the stress management course as an elective last year that was fairly easy just to get by, but I ended up walking away with tools that ultimately changed the way I experience both stress and life's events in general. Now it's your turn to perhaps take a class yourself to become more educated or do an activity you enjoy that will make you happier and healthier. Go on, give it a try, and experience for yourself a life with minimal stress!