Contributed by Christine Binney
Being a caregiver for a loved one can definitely be stressful at times. It is a big responsibility to provide the best care possible for your friend or family member, and it can be a strain on your time, energy, finances and emotions. When you combine the stresses of caregiving with the daily stresses of everyday life, you may occasionally feel overwhelmed with tension. Unchecked stress has been linked to a variety of physical and psychological health problems, so it’s extremely important to learn how to relax yourself when going through a stressful time. Luckily, there are some tried and true strategies for lessening stress which you can employ the next time you feel your blood pressure rising.
Take a deep breath
The simple act of mindful breathing can work wonders for quickly lowering your heart rate and bringing your body into a state of relaxation. The extra boost of oxygen that you attain from taking long, deep breaths can reduce tension and help you calm down, making this an extremely simple yet very valuable strategy for dealing with stressful situations.
Laughter is the best medicine
Mindful breathing isn’t the only way to increase your intake of oxygen-rich air; a hearty laugh can do the same. Laughing boosts your endorphins and your mood, ensuring that you will feel much more relaxed after a good giggle. Try watching your favorite funny movie, view a few viral videos, or spend time with that hilarious friend who always makes you laugh.
Phone a friend
On the television show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” contestants are given the option to “phone-a-friend,” which is an opportunity that they aptly named a “lifeline.” Similarly, remember that your friends can serve as your lifeline during stressful times. There is nothing like talking to a close friend to help you relax. Whether you need advice, a shoulder to cry on, a sounding board for your ideas or just a simple laugh, talking to a loved one can quickly ease your stress.
Listen to the music
The Doobie Brothers were definitely onto something when they wrote the song “Listen to the Music.” Enjoying your favorite tunes is a quick and easy way to improve your mood and ease your stress. Have a sing-along during your commute home, belt out a ballad in the shower, or pull on your headphones and put on a feel-good playlist. The ultimate way for how to relax yourself with music is to put on some classical music. Classical music has been shown to slow the heart rate, lower blood pressure and even lower stress hormones.
Walk it off
Setting off on a walk can do wonders to help you clear your head of stress. The exercise will release feel-good endorphins in your body and the quiet will give you time to think and reflect. Whether you use your time walking to think up a plan of action, to explore your emotions, to put your situation into perspective, or simply to clear your thoughts altogether, you are sure to feel unburdened at the end. Ideally, you will be able to spend at least ten minutes walking in nature in a relatively quiet green space, but if that’s not an option then a walk in any location will still prove beneficial for relaxing.
Engaging in a simple craft project can be a great plan for how to relax yourself. The act of performing small and simple repetitive motions can bring peace and calm. In addition, working towards a final product that you created with your own two hands is deeply satisfying. The next time you find yourself going through a stressful time, try to find time for a craft or hobby. Pick up some knitting needles, work on a cross stitch, or make a piece of beaded jewelry. You can even hop on the latest bandwagon and try out an adult coloring book. These books, featuring beautifully intricate patterns, are currently a big trend among adults looking for ways to unwind. Coloring sessions have been bringing a quiet peacefulness to many stressed-out adults, as evidenced by the fact that adult coloring books have recently been at the top of Amazon’s bestselling book lists!
Find your inner child
When the responsibilities of adulthood bring your stress levels to an all-time high, try finding your inner child. Turn to the memories of the wholesome fun that always made you happy as a kid and take some time to relive those moments. Childhood was filled with naps, bubble baths, daydreaming, and plenty of time spent playing outside, soaking up vitamin D from the sun and feeling the breeze through your hair. All of these activities can work wonders for providing you with a moment of relief from the stresses you face as an adult. So go ahead and embrace your inner child!