What to Do About Stress

You’re on a deadline at work, the kids are sick, your house is a mess, and you feel like you’re about ready to lose your mind. Sound familiar? When you’re having one of those days that threatens to do you in, the only solution is a fast, reliable relaxation trick. But, the key is to find the right trick.

Relaxation is an important stress-management tool. But most people don’t shop around enough to find out what works best for them. As a result, they’re often left frustrated and more stressed out than ever. People often think there’s only one way to relax, but there are really many different pathways you should explore before trying to master just one.

Fortunately, it’s not too late to take the following Relaxation Grand Tour–to determine what your favorite techniques are, and incorporate them into your life–all in just two short weeks. The sooner you learn to control the tension in your daily life, the sooner you’ll feel better and be able to handle whatever stress life throws at you.

Week 1

Try all five of the following techniques–one technique per day for at least 15 minutes at a time:
Squeezing: Tense up each body part for five seconds (for example, shrug your shoulders, make fists, contract your buttocks) and then go limp for 30 seconds, enjoying the sensation of sinking into relaxation.

Lazy fantasy: Imagine yourself somewhere peaceful like a deserted beach (here’s where a white noise relaxation or sleep machine can come in handy) and let your mind wander around it.

Stretching: Do a series of slow, glorious stretches.

Breathing: Take a full breath and slowly exhale (as if you were trying to make a flame flicker but not go out).
Meditating: Capture a word such as Peace or a focal point in your mind and concentrate on it, letting it float through your mind like an echo.

Week 2

  1. To avoid getting caught in a relaxation rut, experiment with incorporating various techniques into different situations. Each day, pick a new situation and a new technique until you’ve found your favorite(s).
  2. To enliven or refresh: Try stretching, breathing, or meditating.
  3. To inspire: Try breathing or meditating.
  4. To relieve mental tension: Try lazy fantasy, breathing, or meditating.
  5. To relieve physical tension: Try squeezing, stretching, or breathing.