Home is the last place you want to feel stressed. With that in mind, here are some simple things you can do to relax at home. Some are as easy as breathing!
Stress is an inescapable complication of everyday existence. Work, financial obligations, children: almost anything in our busy lives can create stress. Even our relationships aren’t immune from stress. For example, many adults in the so-called “sandwich generation” report that having to care for both their children and their elders increases their stress levels. Whatever its source, uncontrolled stress can negatively affect your physical and mental health.
How can you manage daily stress? By being mindful and engaging in a few simple household activities.
We do it constantly to sustain life yet often overlook the stress-relieving powers of deep breathing. It slows your heart rate, lowers your blood pressure and reduces the production of stress hormones like cortisol. Here’s how you can use deep breathing to beat stress:
- Sit in a quiet space.
- Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest.
- Fill your lungs by inhaling slowly and deeply through your nose.
- Hold your breath for 2 to 4 seconds.
- Empty your lungs by exhaling slowly through your mouth.
- Repeat this exercise four times, or until you begin to feel its calming effects.
Consuming a balanced diet keeps your body healthy and better able to cope with stressors. Add larger portions of whole grains, vegetables and fruits to your diet. Foods rich in vitamin C (like citrus fruits) literally block stress hormones. Omega-3 fatty acids like those found in salmon and some nuts have a similar anti-inflammatory effect. If you crave something sweet — which can be its own form of stress — dark chocolate is a good option, as studies suggest it possesses compounds that help fight anxiety.
Reduce your stress level by getting at least 7 hours of sleep every night. If you have difficulty getting this recommended allowance, try these tips.
- Regularize your sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake at the same time every day, including weekends.
- Avoid consuming caffeine after 3:00 PM.
- Avoid consuming alcoholic beverages just before bedtime.
- Take naps early in the day.
Use water therapy
Like air, water is essential to life. Water can be a part of your anti-stress regimen in a number of ways. Steam a wet towel in the microwave for a minute or two. Being careful not to burn yourself, place the towel behind your neck and then over your face. Instinctively, your body relaxes in response to the warmth. For full-body relaxation, take a leisurely bath or steamy shower. You’ll emerge feeling rejuvenated.
Write it down
Follow the example of President Abraham Lincoln. When confronted with conflict or frustration over another person’s actions, he would write them a highly critical letter. But the letter would remain unsent. Having vented, Lincoln would tuck the letter away — and much of his stress with it.
Do a simple, repetitive household task
Studies show that routine chores like ironing or washing dishes by hand can reduce both your heart rate and blood pressure. These activities may be “boring,” but they can actually help you enter a tranquil, near-meditative state.
Try guided imagery
Our bodies respond to both real perceptions and imagined experiences in essentially the same way. Visualize a favorite place — it could be a foggy mountaintop, a seaside village, any place you may have visited in the past or wish you could visit tomorrow. Close your eyes and imagine the sights, sounds and smell you would encounter in this place. It may sound like daydreaming, but this technique is useful for putting some distance between yourself and the source of your stress.
Don’t forget exercise
You don’t have to go to the gym or yoga studio to sweat out your stressors. Just 10 to 20 minutes of moderate physical activity a day can work wonders, calming your mind and lowering your stress levels. Exercise also stimulates the production of endorphins, the brain chemicals that help to lift us out of our bad moods.
So, when stress strikes, put it on the back burner. You’ll feel more at home once you do.