Cool Off

Dispel the heat of stress with relaxation techniques to enter the chill zone

By Samantha Gluck

Your neck and back are tight. Your head hurts—you’re wound up tighter than a piano wire. No more denial, no more pretending you’re not stressed out.

It’s time to get serious about stress management. Working constantly and feverishly running errands at the end of the day robs you of your best life. But by learning to relax you will cultivate a deeper sense of self awareness and your decisions will arise with clarity and confidence.

 

Best tips for relaxing
Tips for getting into the “chill zone”

Consider committing just 15 minutes to quiet and solitude each day. Carving out a small chunk of time around mid-day can initiate a powerful and positive change in your life. It may seem difficult at first, and you may find the “chill zone” seems out of reach, but you can get there.

Prepare a physical space. Whether you’re at the office or home, map out a space that invites calm and relaxation. For example, don’t sit in your cubicle right in front of the stack of paperwork you’ve been putting off for way too long. Turn your seat to face a blank wall or a soothing picture, or if you’ve got a lunch break, drive to a local park.

Breathe. Start by taking slow, shallow breaths rather than deep, sharp ones. This rhythmic breathing will help calm stress and pop-up thoughts that try to steal the inner peace you deserve.

Prepare your mental space. When you begin your planned relaxation time, you probably won’t be ready immediately. Unwelcome thoughts and concerns will continue to swirl around in your mind. After all, you’ve allowed these peace thieves to rule your world for a long while. Don’t attempt to push the thoughts down. Simply notice them and gently pull yourself out of their grasp. This takes practice. It will get easier.

Learn about the meaning of silence. During this quiet period, you’ll begin to hear sounds you didn’t notice before—ticking clocks, a car starting, dogs barking in the distance, the hum of an air conditioner. As you move further into the silence, you’ll become more keenly aware of these and other peripheral sounds. You see, silence isn’t an absence of sound. Rather, it’s an elevated form of listening and it’s quite powerful. These sounds ebb and flow within your awareness. They don’t diminish the silence; they are part of it.

Time to strike a pose. Whether you’re in business attire, or in your comfy jeans at home, yoga can greatly assist with relaxation. Start with a crescent moon pose, move into a standing seal pose or desk upward dog, and on to eagle arms (you can find diagrams of these poses easily online). This will likely wreak havoc on your inner silence at first, but keep practicing and you will become master of the 15 minute chill. 

 

It’s the Little Things

Let’s face it—as a society, we’re kind of uptight.

Michelle Newman, PhD, director of the Laboratory for Anxiety and Mood Pathology, says people get into a habit of carrying around more tension and anxiety than they should. She emphasizes regular relaxation to keep anxiety under control and encourages a few simple techniques.

Take a break from smart devices.

Turn off your electronic devices and put them in a drawer for at least an hour a day.

Find the humor.

Try to find some humorous angle to whatever comes at you during the day. This giggle therapy can act as an effective tool for diminishing anxiety.

Move.

You’ve heard it before—take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to your appointments, park further away. Moving your body is a good idea and helps to clear your head between scheduled relaxation times.

Let go of the hustle for just a little bit and free your mind.

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