It is an unconscious miniscule part of our thought processes, yet it plays a major role in alleviating stress and reducing tension throughout our bodies. Even though we may not realize it, traumatic events and hectic moments in our daily lives may cause us to breathe irregularly (or not at all!) and thus increase the tension in our muscles. Take into account this simple yet crucial step: Always remember to breathe. Try this technique to relax your body: Breathe in four counts and breathe out eight counts, repeat four times. This simple technique instantaneously reduces pent up tension in our bodies.
2. Massage your ears
Go on, give it a try. Pull at them a little, but not too hard. When you’re ready to rip your hair out during a two-hour power lecture or you’re attending a stressful work meeting, giving your earlobes a little tug with your fingers can help soothe some pent up stress you’re probably feeling.
3. Pull your shoulders up and then release.
When I was young, I “warmed up” with this move in dance class. My teacher had us five year olds raise our shoulders high up to our ears and then pull them back down. This little move helps you control your posture- pulling your shoulders down and out will keep you from hunching and building tension throughout your upper torso.
4. Be mindful.
If you’re feeling stressed, acknowledge it. It’s okay to feel stressed sometimes. If you’re feeling super stressed, write about it. Make a list of what is causing your stress. Oftentimes stress is enhanced by factors such as hunger and sleep. If you’re tired, make time for a nap. If you can’t, try sipping some green tea or munching on a handful of nuts.
If you’re like me, the pen in your hand is always in use. Even when you’ve finished taking notes in class, you fill the margins of your spiral with squiggles and bubble letters, shapes and designs (some you’re probably even proud of). If you don’t do this, give it a shot. Doodling or coloring is a great way to let your mind exercise in a different way than it does on a daily basis at work or in school. P.S. If you find this technique useful, consider purchasing an adult coloring book with epic designs to let your coloring mind wander.
6. Drink tea
Don’t we all love tea? If you’re prone to stress eating, turning to tea in times of stress will help fill your belly and keep you from eating that carton of ice cream sitting in the freezer.
7. 5 Minute Yoga
Yoga is a fabulous de-stresser. However, it is also time-consuming and expensive. If you’re on your lunch break or working through a long paper at home, the 5 Minute Yoga App (on iPhone) is a wonderful tool to help rejuvenate you. 5 Minute Yoga takes you through five yoga poses with descriptions of each pose and an accompanying digital yogi as well as electric/Zen/fusion music.
Squeezing a stress ball or simply playing with your jewelry can help you reduce some pent up tension in your hands that you might experience after taking frivolous class notes or waiting in a long line.
9. Stay Varied
My high school English teacher once told me he never did anything for more than five minutes straight. If he was grading a stack of essays, he would take thirty seconds every five minutes or so to change a song on his playlist, do a breathing exercise, or take a lap around his office. As the saying goes, you can’t cut through anything with a dull knife!
10. Blow Bubbles
If you tend to build up tension in your jaw, chewing gum and sucking on lollipops can help reduce some of that tension. Treats such as these help us get our creative juices flowing (quite literally).
Although we can’t control the stress our lives bring upon us, we can control how we deal with it. Little things such as muscular exercises or sipping tea can help us reduce the tension caused by stress.