I don’t know why…but every year…right around this time in November, my stress levels skyrocket. I feel anxious (and excited) about the Holidays, and find myself constantly daydreaming about a fabulous vacation. Nevertheless I begin to worry about deadlines, work, family and get….very very stressed. So I stumbled upon this article from WEBMD which I found very helpful. After finishing my Psychiatry rotation, we constantly employed and suggested these techniques to our patients. So for all of those who are feeling very stressed…take 5 minutes of your day and read this. After that take 5 minutes of each day and practice this. After all, what are 5 minutes of your day? This will help improve the quality of your sleep, and moreover the quality of your next day…So what are these 10 tips?
1- Meditate or do any activity for 5-10 min. of your day where your mind simply gets lost (cooking, running, browsing, blogging, walking your dog, etc.)
2- Get lost in your dreamscape (I provided you with my favorite scenario)
3- In a moment of crisis take 10 big deep breaths
4- Take the time to look around you, embrace & observe your surroundings for a quick escape
5- Don’t drink coffee after 2pm! (This is difficult for me to do)…Try switching to tea, and if you find yourself in need of additional relaxation – try chamomile tea a couple of hours before bedtime.
6- Express love. How cheesy does this sound? But studies have shown that cuddling, snuggling, kissing and hugging someone you love (this could be a pet, family member or partner) releases endorphins and other powerful chemicals in your brain which will make you feel good instantly.
7- Self-massage. One of the ways anxiety manifests itself on the body is by tensing muscles. Sore neck and shoulders? This doesn’t always mean that you sit inadequately at work, this could also mean you are STRESSED.
8- Before you burst, take a time-out. Want to cry right in the middle of your office? Rip someone’s head off? Hey..these are not nice thoughts. Find a quiet place or corner. Sit and compose yourself. Always THINK before you ACT.
9- Trust in the magic of Music. The article from Webmd reports that some research has shown that listening to 30 minutes of classical music may produce calming effects equivalent to taking 10 mg of Valium. Not a fan of classical music? Listen to your favorite artist and sing your heart out for 2-3min to watch the stress melt away.
10- Practice positive thinking. The mind is a powerful tool. Some people’s source of anxiety is self-doubt and insecurity. So instead of falling into that group practice “talking positively to yourself” before bedtime, before a big interview, test, presentation, etc. Highlight your good qualities, recall past successes and avoid pointing out your failures (this will only bring you down).
For more info: http://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/blissing-out-10-relaxation-techniques-reduce-stress-spot
EXTRA TIPS FOR REDUCING ANXIETY AND SLEEP-AID:
11- Another thing I find very helpful is structure.When you are feeling stressed out or anxious try to prioritize, make lists, and acknowledge what things you can deal with in the moment and which are out of your control. Planning and organization are tools that can help with dealing with anxiety by helping your make the most of your time. This also forces you to consciously take control of the situation and divide your time wisely. This is very helpful for those people who consider themselves or have been dubbed as “control-freaks” or as “obsessive-compulsive” personalities. I find myself included in these categories. LOL.
12- Having difficulty falling asleep? Turning your brain off? Calming those racing thoughts and ideas that come to your mind when your head hits the pillow? Sometimes the best solution is the easiest. Keep a pen and a small notepad, post-it or notebook right by your nightstand. If you’ve got too much planning or ideas in your mind, write them down. This way your mind will be able to focus on relaxing and “shutting down” instead of thinking and planning.
13- Neurologists recommend using your bed for 2 things and two things only: sleeping and sex. Some studies have proven that watching tv, studying or doing other activities in your bed will remove the association that the bed is for sleeping. Therefore you might face restlessness or extra difficulties when trying to doze off.
14- Create a sleep routine. Some people might not be able to go to sleep everyday at the same time….I mean after all our society has forced us into becoming multi-taskers and getting involved in a million activities. So what can you do? Form a pattern such as: take a bath, pick a book and read 5 pages in bed. Reading in bed is superior to watching TV because the light emitted by electronic devices (such as TVs, ipads, laptops, kindles, etc) can actually stimulate the brain instead of helping it wind down. If you like watching TV, incorporate that activity into your routine just before hitting the bed. That way your mind will wonder off into another story/life/dreamscape, you will be more relaxed but you won’t associate that activity with your bed. You can try watching a show, showering, then going to bed instead.
Hope this helped!
And remember, HEALTH or wellbeing includes mind, body and soul. Make sure you feed all 3 components.