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40 Simple And Brilliant Ways To Relax and De-stress

40 Simple And Brilliant Ways To Relax and De-stress

Today’s fast-paced society has our lives in its crushing grasp, and stress is an unwanted by-product. Well folks, that’s all about to change. Below are 40 easy– and some slightly unconventional– ways to relaxAfter all, you deserve it.

1. Get Moving

I know, I know– you just want a break, and perhaps tiring yourself out even more is the last thing on your mind. But trust me, this is gold. Exercise triggers the brain to release feel-good hormones called endorphins, which will– erhm– make you feel good. Yeah, it really is that simple.

2. Drink Tea

…Green Tea, especially. They are a rich source of L-Theanine, a chemical that is proven to reduce stress and anger.

3. Visualize

This is a nice technique that tricks the brain and subsequently calms you down. Imagine yourself at your favorite spot– on the beach? The more imagery, the better.

4. Return to Nature

Henry David Thoreau once said, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life…and not, when I came to die, [to] discover that I had not lived.” Deep. But seriously, greenery is much more relaxing than the pixels on the screen, and as a result you’ll feel more calm and whole.

5. Write in a Journal

Or blog, if that’s your style. In any case, it’s a brilliant way to get back to the basics and practice some old fashioned introspection.

6. Be Bored

Say what? Yep, being bored can actually spur your creativity levels, which will undeniably get you to have some fun and bring out your inner child– or inventor. In a nutshell, it’s just another way to relax.

7. Engage in Your Interests

Like watching sports? Watch sports. Like cooking? Cook! Do what you like to do– your hobbies and interests– and just have a ball.

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8. Take a Nap

If you’re generally bad with naps like me, Sara Mednick’s nap wheel might help. Power naps and naps in general are great ways to give you that boost of energy you need while letting you wind down.

9. Unplug From Social Media

Constant connection to social media can spread you thin. It’s simple: challenge yourself to stay away from anything that sends you notifications. The less connected we are to the vast social world on the net, the more connected we are to ourselves.

10. Meditate

This one isn’t new. Meditation is a great way to calm the mind. Here are some easy meditation techniques for beginners.

11. Do Yoga

Yoga is just meditation with an added physical component– and it goes pretty deep to reduce stress. If this sounds right up in your alley, give it ago. If not, try it out anyway!

12. Clean

De-cluttering your physical environment actually works in de-cluttering your mind. Do the laundry, shine your shoes, organize your closet.

13. Take a Walk

If Passion Pit’s song doesn’t convince you enough, I don’t know what will! Taking a walk is so light, so simple, so easy… but it’s an opportunity for simple reflection and mind-wandering plus an added physical component.

14. Read

Imagine: rainy days, cozy nook, interesting book. Sound calming? That’s because it is. Oh, and congrats and visualizing that description! That’s also a relaxing activity (see #3)

15. Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

Sound silly? That’s because it is silly, you silly goose. Dancing will make you feel good, promise. Bonus– it also reduces muscle tension, and you can go along with your favorite beats.

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16. Talk to Yourself

Before you question my sanity, try it out. Please. Talking to yourself, especially positive self-talk, is a powerful happiness-booster. Give yourself a pep talk. Or, just talk to yourself about your day, about your life, or about your feelings. This can allow you to realize (and then release) any negative feelings that you didn’t know you had before.

17. Cuddle with a Pet

Pets oftentimes just know what’s up. Well, maybe not your goldfish. But owning a cat or dog or really any other cuddle-y friend can actually lower your blood pressure.

18. Listen to Music

Get lost in some tunes, and you will find your special place. Hint: calming music can especially calm you.

19. Be with a Friend

Humans are social creatures. A lot of these relaxation steps involve much alone-time, but the truth is that hanging with the people you like will make you care-free and feel good. Simple science, really.

20. Learn Something New

Challenge yourself. Every dreamed to learn code? Archery? Under-water basket weaving? here’s your chance to have a blast, relax, and add a new skill-set to your credentials.

21. Say No

Sometimes busy agendas can explode– that is, if you keep saying yes. Know your limits and say no when you feel overwhelmed.

22. Stretch

Release tension and gain flexibility! Stretching also gets your blood circulation going and does wonders to the lymph nodes, which are responsible for your immune system health. No wonder it’s also a component of yoga, which also lowers stress. Read more here.

23. Take a Bubble Bath

Soak in that soapy goodness and just wind down after a long day. Bubbles help.

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24. Squeeze a Stress Ball

This one is a no-brainer. BUT, I rarely see anything with a stress ball when they’re stressed. Try it out and keep it with you if you’re the type of person who gets overwhelmed easily.

25. Look Out The Window

Again with the nature, except this one is a little more forgiving for those of you who have no choice but to stay seated for most of the day. If there’s a window around to, take advantage of the opportunity to see what’s out there!

26. Tickle Yourself

So you probably think I’m crazy and I’m not blaming you. Tickling yourself most likely won’t really work (if it does, then good for you!) but the key point here is laughing. Crack a joke, or even get tickled!

27. Watch a Movie

Popcorn and a movie is a simple, easy way to indulge and relax.

28. Eat Chocolate

It’s true! (…in moderation, of course.) Studies show that dark chocolate can actually reduce your stress levels. 

29. Smile

It’s that simple. The physical act of smiling, even when you may not necessarily be in a smiling mood, is proven to still reduce stress.

30. Go Barefoot

This is one of the many ways to get in touch with nature as previously mentioned, BUT it has unique properties of its own. Walking barefoot outside might make you a hippie, but it’ll also helps you absorb free electrons from the Earth and has a surprisingly powerful antioxidant effect on the body, as explained here. If anything, however, going barefoot gives you a natural, spiritual connection with the Earth on which we live. Deep.

31. Sing

Bring out your inner Beyoncé. Pair this up with “dance like nobody’s watching” (see #15), and you’re set as a backup singer/dancer.

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32. Treat Yourself

Go out for some froyo, splurge in that clutch bag, give in to a guilty pleasure. Treating yourself is just a reminder that life is good, and that you deserve to have a good time.

33. Scents Make Sense

Try out aromatherapy. Some scents, like lavender and jasmine. Check out this page for a more detailed list.

34. Do Your Research

It’s important to relax, but it’s equally important to understand what caused you to stress in the first place. Acknowledge whatever it is, as it may just be right under your nose.

35. Chew Gum

Chewing gum can actually lower stress! Pop one in your mouth, and you’re set.

36. Find a Relaxation Mentor

AKA, a positive role model who excels specifically in the field of staying relaxed. Find that one dude whose catch phrase is “take a chill pill!” (Not limited to people who grew up in the 90’s…) By looking to others who are good at being calm, you can also learn their tricks.

37. Be Spontaneous

Take an alternate route to work, spice up your morning routine, or take an impromptu trip to your favorite store. We’re so entrenched in routine, but a bit of spontaneity once in a while is good for you.

38.Forgive Yourself

Any weird emotional tension? Let it go by forgiving others and yourself. Staying in the past is not worth missing the future.

39. Breathe

Probably the easiest thing you can do, and it takes only a few seconds. No matter where you are or however difficult the situation at hand may be, taking a deep breath can calm you down.

40. Remember You’re Human

It starts with awareness. We all make mistakes. Let go of any perfectionist tendencies that may be dragging you down, and let go of any unrealistic standards that you set for yourself and fail to reach. So… Relax, remember you’re human, and go reap the harvests of life.

Featured photo credit: Gerd Altmann via pixabay.com

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How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

His motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • He riles up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

Becoming the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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