Stress has become a habitual occurrence in our daily routine. Either striking out of the blue or building up gradually, it eventually leaves you emotionally and psychologically spent.
There are certain long-acknowledged ways to bring down stress, but sadly, most of them are inapplicable when you are, say, at work: you can’t very well go out and walk about in the forest, order a massage, or invite your friend in to pour out your soul. More likely you have calls to answer, people to talk to, work to go on with. What you need is some quick easy-to-do measures to set things right. Are there any simple ways to take the edge off stress? There are, says nutritionist Charlotte Watts.
Once the initial shock begins to wane, our bodies tend to relax – or require some relaxation. Unfortunately, they don’t often have the chance. Modern life is rich in various stresses (at work, at home, money issues, health issues, the list can go on and on) and we can find ourselves in a situation where we have no opportunity to relax when it is necessary. We have to remain on our toes, struggling on and getting over small crises that keep cropping up. So, try these ideas which may break the backbone of your onset and give you strength to carry on when you can’t use better ways.
The simplest one: pull a face
As stress locks and strains the muscles of your whole body, your face also gets tense: jaw muscles lock, teeth grind. The frown that appeared when you hear bad news doesn’t relax. You press your lips tightly, and your concentration stays as ordered by the survival mode that is on. You may even develop a headache.
The face and jaws in particular are the best areas to send the signal to the muscles that you want them relaxed. As you distort your face muscles, they get that timely inner massage. Make the face as ugly as possible. It switches on a carefree mode and in the best case you can end up laughing out loud.
Give your hands a wash
It’s another common action that gives the body an easy chance to reverse into a relaxed state. Go and wash your hands with some warm water. Actually, any part of the body when immersed in warm water will set the parasympathetic nervous system calming down. A bath will be even better, complete with Epsom salts or some other product producing a calming effect – but that can be had later at home, while you can excuse yourself for a minute to slip out and wash your hands in practically any situation.
Hum a merry song to yourself
Humming snatches of songs is justly associated with being happy, carefree and laid-back. According to doctors, humming, which is a combination of vibration and vocalization, produces a balancing effect on the blood pressure and thus makes a good anti-stress measure. So, hum any tune that stuck in your memory as the quickest way to start shaking off stress. If you can sing out loud or chant it would be even better.
As stress engages us in a conflict between the logical and emotional parts of the brain, very little energy is left for creative and reflective impulses. Consequently, by activating the creative upper brain area we can bring ourselves round to a freer and fresher state of mind and initiate the calming process.
Have a pad handy so you can doodle on it at any moment allowing your emotional state to come out on paper. Never mind what actually appears on the pad, it’s a question of gaining freedom and not creating beautiful images. On the contrary, don’t concentrate on whatever you’re drawing. Also, a good idea is to move or massage your fingers slightly before you set about it.
Chewing is a useful activity in many ways, and boffins say it is conducive to lowering the level of cortisol. Researchers wrote about chewing on a gum, but it has a drawback, because your stomach will be expecting food and won’t get any. A better idea would be to unlock your jaws on something that your digestive system can use as well. We suggest celery for chewing – your nervous system will start to wind down, and celery will feed us with apigenin, that also has a soothing effect (due to it celery is known as a good insomnia and anxiety fighter).
Do some eyebrow pinching
When stress makes us clench our jaws, it serves to increase the blood flow upward to the brain and make us ready to respond faster. But if we are wearing a frown, it draws off blood; also, our tense muscles around the eyes can bring about headaches in the forehead or the temples. Check yourself for contracted muscles on your head – here is where you can begin to get relief by treating your face to a mini massage, sending a wave of relaxation out to the rest of the body.
Pinch your eyebrows from the nose away to the outer ends, proceed to the temple area, pausing where you feel tension and working a little bit more where attention is due. If you are in the mood for a good long one (or have a chance to put in more time for a more thorough massage), go down to under your ears and behind them, work your way to the nape and on over the tops of the shoulders. Finish by moving the lower jaw around, lifting your shoulders several times and even shaking your whole body to get rid of any extra tension.
Refreshing lip salve
When under stress, many people want to eat – or keep touching their lips. It is a soothing activity which tones the nervous system down and sets off the relaxation process.
While turning to eating for relief may not be the best idea (putting on weight, followed by a drop of self-esteem) – there is nothing wrong in refreshing lip salve. By the way, your lips will need hydrating, because stress often makes you breathe through the mouth, and the lips go dry.
Make sure your salve contains natural ingredients – you don’t want to get more chemicals in right now!
Feast on a salad
With many people it’s an instinctive reaction to down food in the wake of stress. Vegetables and salads are, unfortunately, not the foods that come to mind at once, and people go for sugary, fatty food rich in carbs. Now let’s reconsider this point.
Lettuce stems contain the substance lactucarium (a.k.a “lettuce opium”) which endows it with sedative qualities. A salad made from lettuce with some healthy fats thrown in (nuts, fish, cheese made from goat milk) will make an excellent anti-stress snack calming you down instead of leaving you heavy and worse fit to conquer stress.
Kick off your shoes
As your upper parts of the body are struggling under stress, you can give them some relief from your nether regions – so look to your shoes. They may be constricting blood circulation in the feet and causing additional strain to the musculo-skeletal system in the lower part of the body. Getting your shoes off, rolling your feet and wriggling your toes will send up waves of relaxation – and hopefully, you can do it repeatedly without breaking your working processes.
It goes even more strongly if you wear rubber soles – they prevent us from getting rid of surplus electro-magnetic radiation built up from the use of electric and electronic devices. It creates positive charge in the body which can also be stressful.
Hugging yourself helps
It is especially true with single people and those who need a lot of physical contact. Being pack mammals, we humans are apt to respond positively to touch, warmth and comfort which comes from being close to others. Cuddling up to somebody close is a sure thing, but if you hug yourself, rub or massage whatever part of your body welcomes it, you get the same rush of oxytocin with the same calming effect (oxytocin is the happy-feeling hormone that we generate when being in love or breastfeeding).