10 Ways to De-Stress

Stress! It's everywhere, causing havoc with our minds, hearts, and bodies. So how do you find the best way for you do de-stress?

Everyone is not alike, but our physical bodies tend to react the same way to physical stimuli. Here are a few things to try to help that wonderful body of yours release stress and to allow it to process your feelings without all the side effect.

1. Deep Breathing: There are as many ways to do this as there are numbers. This is one very effective way, and I call it the Balloon Squeak. Imagine, first off, that your lungs are a balloon and your lips are the opening. You are going to fill the balloon, hold it in, and then release the air with your lips tightly closed as if you were making a balloon squeak and trying to let that air out as slowly as possible. Here goes:

Take in a deep breath, counting at least to 7....Now, hold that air inside your balloon-lungs for at least 8 counts.....And lastly, let the air out sloooooooowly, as slowly as you can, counting to at least 10. Repeat this 3-7 times, or until your muscles have relaxed, your brain has gotten enough oxygen to do its job, and your heartrate is back to a healthy level. This is a fun game to play with children as well; you can make it into a backward race, and see who is the SLOWest!

2. Grounding: The connection we have with our planet has been documented as being extremely healing and calming. Take off your shoes and socks and stand on grass, sand, or even dirt! Feel the ground under you, smell the smells, hear the sounds. You'll soon feel reconnected and more relaxed.

3. Check your senses: Use your five senses to check your status and feel your worries melt away. What do you see? Notice the big and the little things around you. Make a list in your mind and find something beautiful. What do you hear? Sounds can be the air conditioner fan blowing, the scratch of a curtain on a window, the footsteps of people nearby. What do you smell? Perfume, skin, clothing, grass, and so much more is there for the smelling. What do you taste? Maybe you can taste something lingering from breakfast, or even taste the air in the room. What do you feel? What is under your fingers right now? The roughness of denim, the softness of a pillow, the smoothness of a desktop. Being present-minded helps the mind calm and focus, letting go of all those peripherals that cloud thinking and judgement.

Those are three big ones for me, personally. Here are more small but effective helps!

4. Blue light: a blue light bulb in the room lowers anxiety

5. Aromatherapy: Bergamot or Lavender are aromatic ways of destressing, put on wrists, temples, clothing, pillows

6. Exercise: Get those endorphins moving!

7. Stretching: Circulation and the muscle movement of stretching feels like a great massage

8. Animals: Spend some time with a favorite animal, or visit the local shelter for some great de-stressing

9. Hugs: If you're blessed to have an affectionate friend, as for a 30 second hug, no less. It gives you time to actually release and let it do the work to get that stress on the run

10. Music: Classical music or "New Age" music systematically works on the mind to help it stop running you ragged, slow down, and be calm

Enjoy practicing some or all of these methods to lower your stress and raise your contentment!