Relaxation: tips to make dealing with stress easier

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Relaxation tips

What can you do to live as long, healthy and happy as possible? The Swedish doctor Bertil Marklunk has been studying this question for more than forty years. He focuses on factors that promote our health. His book ‘Drink more coffee’ contains ten simple tips to improve your health. He does not work with prohibitions or restrictions. With his relaxed and practical approach, transitioning to a healthy lifestyle feels positive and meaningful. In this article you will read one of the ten tips: time to relax – develop strategies against stress. 

Start today with one tip and the rest will follow.

Time to relax

It has been scientifically proven that a less stressful life is good for health. So take a deep breath, relax and realize:

Life is more than just surviving.

Stress reactions are a survival mechanism and therefore useful in themselves: when there is danger, the body prepares to fight or flee. However, in modern society we rarely have to fight for survival. Our stress reactions are therefore more often provoked by psychological tension, for example when we become angry, have to deal with money worries, have an unpleasant job ahead or are simply too busy.

Stress is therefore not always the result of physical danger, but also arises when you think about a threat or difficult situation, even if it does not actually exist and may never come. Even then, the body reacts with a stress response. No matter how well off you are, you can continue to feed your stress by, for example, always thinking about all the disaster that could happen to you or one of your loved ones, about diseases that could break out or other
specters. The news on TV and in the newspapers can also be a constant cause for worry and stress.

We now know that stress is just as dangerous as smoking. Of course, stress is also just part of life,
and a person can handle a lot of short-term stress. But in today’s society, where we are constantly
reachable via email, mobile phones and social media, we are faced with an abundance of
information to process and decisions to make. Working life places high demands on
us, the pace is fast and stress quickly becomes a chronic condition. If you don’t take time for relaxation, your health can be seriously damaged.

Different forms of stress

Stress does not always have a negative cause. Think, for example, of a situation in which you have to perform, where the stress response gives you the strength to do well.

Stress is experienced differently by everyone, and every situation is different for everyone. What is a major source of stress for one person may be an exciting challenge for another. These differences mean that some people are almost constantly stressed, while others do not see the problem and therefore do not suffer from stress.

Many people struggle with the high standards that others place on them, but sometimes we also place too high demands on ourselves. If you set the bar too high and always want to do everything perfectly, it leads to stress. If you judge yourself by your performance, there is a danger that you have to achieve more and more in order to be satisfied with yourself. That’s why it’s important to realize that your worth has nothing to do with your performance.

Sometimes stress arises from a lack of meaningful activities or challenges in life. Loneliness, unemployment and the lack of purpose in life can also cause hopelessness and stress.

Relaxation

What happens in the body?

Stress affects the whole body. It consumes energy, consumes many nutrients and calls on
the body’s reserves.

Stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, are released and blood pressure, blood sugar and blood fat levels rise. This creates free radicals and increases inflammation. The immune system is
compromised and the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, infections and cancer increases. Short-term stress is probably harmless, but damage does occur when the body is exposed to stress for a long time or repeatedly, for weeks, months or even years.

Develop strategies against stress

1. Daily Movement

Exercise is one of the best ways to relax. When you’re stressed, you might think you don’t have time for exercise, but that’s when it’s vital to take good care of your body and stay active. By exercising, the resulting stress hormones are broken down and replaced by the happiness hormone oxytocin. This ensures that you relax and regain balance.

2. Sleep makes you strong

When you sleep, your body and brain regenerate, giving you new energy. If you neglect your sleep
because you ‘don’t have time’ to sleep, you quickly lose energy and effectiveness. Then it becomes more and
more difficult to solve problems and say no. You are also less resistant to stress from your environment and you run the risk of being sucked into it.

3. Watch your breathing

Calm, regular breathing is perhaps our most effective weapon against stress. Breathing in deep,
calm breaths into the abdomen realigns body and mind and gives you new strength. Deep breathing stimulates circulation and slows down the heart rate, dampens feelings of anxiety, strengthens the immune system and also gives you a good feeling and inner peace.

4. Learn to forgive

You can’t change the past, so forgive yourself and ask, “What have I learned from this?” Then look ahead. The same goes for your interactions with others: accept apologies, forgive others for their mistakes, and then let it go.

5. Regular relaxation

You can relax in many ways. Meditation, yoga and mental training are effective stress relievers. Many people relax in nature or by walking. The anti-stress hormone oxytocin is also released during massage. Mindfulness revolves around a conscious presence in the here and now, without letting your mind wander to the past or future, and can also help with stress.

Allow yourself days when nothing is necessary. Meet up with friends, laugh and enjoy. Spend time with your pet. Reading a book, listening to music, playing an instrument or singing in a choir: all these things can break stress patterns and ensure that you relax.

Learn to forgive yourself and others, and you will see that anxiety, tension and harmful stress decrease.

Relaxation tips

6. Stay in Control

Situations that are out of your control can be a major source of stress. If you can control such situations
, you are well on your way to combating stress. You can’t do everything at once, so focus on the most important.
Try to find a way to bring order without taking too much on your fork. For example, you can make a list of the things you need to do that are causing you stress. This gives you an overview and makes it easier to focus on your priorities. Once you’ve completed something, you can cross it out. It is satisfying to see the list getting shorter, which also decreases the stress. Take back control of your life.

7. Time Out

A lot of precious time is lost by always being reachable, being social on Facebook and answering every incoming email. Be unreachable from time to time and decide for yourself if and when you want to have contact with the outside world. Instead, focus on what you want to do in that moment.

8. Don’t set the bar too high

If your environment demands too much of you, it is important to discuss it. Perhaps the person in question did not know that you are suffering from all expectations and he or she is open to a conversation that can lead to a solution.

If you have set the bar too high yourself, take a critical look at yourself and choose a different angle. Realize that you will feel so much better if you are less demanding of yourself. Your environment will probably also be happy to see you happier and more satisfied. Perfectionism carries a much too high price tag.

Think ‘good enough’ more often and make your life easier, reduce stress and live longer and happier.

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