The stress and chaos that many of us face can make relaxation seem impossible. After all, according to research from Harvard University, 60-90% of all medical visits in the U.S. result from stress. However, no matter how cluttered your to-do list may be, or how many demands you have weighing on your shoulders, there's no reason why your life must be filled with stress and anxiety. Taking some time for relaxation — even just a couple of minutes — can make a real difference in your life.
It's impossible to be a healthy and happy person if you're dealing with constant stress. Studies have shown that stress can lead to everything from depression, to respiratory problems, and even high blood pressure — but finding effective ways to relax can be exasperating in itself. Fortunately, though the tried-and-tested methods of yoga and relaxation can be great for some people, they aren't your only options. The following surprising, and often unheard of relaxation techniques could set you on the fast lane to a better frame of mind.
1. Soothe Stress with Healing Hands
The chances are that when stress strikes you won't have the time or cash to head to a masseuse for an hour of full-body pampering. However, that doesn't mean that you can't access the benefits of massage yourself. A quick hand massage can be an effective and easy way to access immediate health benefits and relaxation in a matter of minutes. Not only will you soothe your mind, but you can also reduce trigger points, slow your heart rate, and improve circulation too.
Your hands contain a number of reflexology and acupressure points which are associated with various parts of your body. Through gentle massage, you can bring your heart rate back down to a healthy level after anxiety starts to get the best of you, and even disperse the pain and tension associated with a typing job. If you can, make your experience extra special by using a drop of your favorite lotion too; preferably one with a relaxing, or invigorating scent.
2. Surround Yourself with Calming Colors
There's plenty of psychological research that supports the connection between emotions and certain shades, but before you begin using color therapy, it's important to have a deep understanding of your own personality. According to some experts, relaxing as a type A personality isn't the same as relaxation for other personalities. For example, if you are a type-A personality, water colors like green and blue should help you to calm yourself. On the other hand, if you have a more laid-back mindset, then pastel colors and earth tones should be more effective.
Remember, surrounding yourself with relaxing colors doesn't have to mean painting your home and redecorating your office - it can be as simple as wearing a shirt or a robe featuring your calming colors when a stressful day is coming up.
3. The Scent of Serenity
Most people know that smells can have an impact on the way that they feel and think — but what they don't know is that the best scents for relaxation may not be the ones they've come to know. Many people turn to lavender when they're feeling overwhelmed, but if you're feeling tense, rose or orange oil could be a better solution. In a study conducted using essential oils, researchers found that university students experienced an increase in naturally comfortable and relaxed feelings when they could smell orange or rose oil.
4. Crack A Smile - Or Laugh it Off
Whether you feel like smiling or not, the simple act of forcing a smile could be enough to put you in a more relaxed state of mind. In a Psychological Science study, participants who smiled often had a lower heart rate following a stressful event than those who maintained a neutral expression. Simply put, smiling through the tough times could actually help you to cope better with negative feelings.
In the same area, finding a reason to laugh can also be a great way to boost your mood when you're starting to feel the impact of stress. Not only does laughing increase blood flow, which minimizes circulatory stress and keeps you healthy, but it also naturally makes you feel happier.
5. Turn Up the Tunes
Research has consistently shown that listening to soothing music can lower anxiety, reduce blood pressure, and slow your heart rate. By creating a playlist of your favorite tunes that you can turn to when things start to get intense at work or at home, you give your mind an opportunity to move away from the stresses of the day, and focus instead on the melodies or lyrics of the piece that often give you pleasure. You can even improve your stress relief by singing along at the top of your lungs!
Say Goodbye to Stress
As the above examples may show, sometimes stress release is easier than you think — from hugging your spouse, to hanging out with your closest friends. What do you find helps you in times of tension? Let us know in the comments below!