Managing stress: Three things you can do to relax your mind and body

Stress can be difficult to cope with and even more difficult to manage. We all worry and get upset from time to time, it is a normal part of life, but it is important not to let that anxiety take over.

Having a few strategies you’re familiar with can help you when you’re feeling stressed. Managing stress can be a sure way to make you more productive and help you reach the goals you may have set for yourself. 

So here are three ways you can relax your mind and body and better manage your stress levels.

1) Breathe

It may seem like a very simple and very obvious task, but most of us forget to take a moment in the day to breathe, focus on our breathing and enjoy a calming moment to ourselves.

If you’re anxious or angry, your breathing can become quick and shallow, but in order to regulate your mind and calm your body, you should be taking long, deep and calming breaths. The slow breathing sends positive messages to your brain, bringing you away from the flight or fight mode that you may feel when you are stressed. 

2) Challenge your thoughts

Part of being anxious or angry is having irrational thoughts that don’t necessarily make sense. These thoughts often picture the ‘worst case scenario’ and twist you up into a cycle of ‘what ifs’, sabotaging your productivity and many other important aspects of your life. When you experience one of these thoughts, stop to ask yourself some of the following questions: 

  • Is this likely to happen? 
  • Is this a rational thought?
  • Has this ever actually happened to me before? 
  • What is the worst that can happen? Can I handle it? 

After you go through the questions, you need to reframe the thought. Instead of thinking ‘what if I left a lamp on and the house burns down?’ instead tell yourself ‘I have never burnt down a house before or left anything on that I shouldn’t have’. Mindset is the most important thing to consider here. 

3) Find a way to release your negative feelings

It’s important to find a release for your negative feelings. This is a personal thing for everyone and ultimately you need to find what works for you. Here are some suggestions:

  • Go for a run, attempt some kind of physical activity in order to boost your serotonin levels and help you calm down and feel better. Avoid physical activities that express anger, such as punching or shouting, anger can often make you feel more anxious and it is best to not mix those two emotions together with one another. 
  • Why not also try listening to music? Tune into sounds that make you feel good or feel energised. Music can really be a fantastic way to lose yourself, to take yourself out of the reality that may be causing or increasing your levels of anxiety. It can have a very calming effect on both your body and your mind. 
  • Practice some muscle relaxation techniques, centre yourself by lying down and slowly relaxing each part of your body one by one from your toes, up to your head. This can be a really great weekly tactic to relieve some stress and prepare you for the rest of the week. 

As with anything, food, hydration and a healthy lifestyle can also greatly increase the success of any of these techniques. Fresh air, long walks, calming environments are the way forward when it comes to destressing. Lifestyle changes and changes of scenery can benefit your overall health and your levels and ways of dealing with stress.