One of the best ways to soothe stress is to relax. But it can be a vicious circle. How can you fully and deeply relax when you feel so stressed? James Porter, president of StressStop.com says there are five truly therapeutic ways to relax at home that will have you smiling again. Five do-it-yourself ways to stop stress cold:
1. Listen more than you talk
When you really connect with another human being, your brain releases feel-good chemicals, such as dopamine and oxytocin. Listening to someone else actually causes your blood pressure to drop, according to Dr. James Lynch, an expert in mind/body medicine and a retired professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland.
2. Take deep breaths
One of the best ways to deactivate the body’s stress response is through deep breathing, according to Dr. Herbert Benson, professor of mind/body medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-author of the 1975 best-seller “The Relaxation Response.” He says taking 20 deep breaths a day “with intention” will help you relax and decrease stress.
The stress response is activated in a tiny section of the brain called the amygdala. Researchers from Harvard have shown that after eight weeks of daily meditation, the amygdala actually shrinks. “The smaller the amygdala became, the less stress subjects reported having,” according to psychologist Sara Lazar.
4. Call a friend
When it comes to dealing with stress, emotional support from those we love is an important proactive factor, according to the American Psychological Association. The opposite is also true. There is a proven link between loneliness and many types of health problems, including high blood pressure, diminished immunity, cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline. Talking with a friend will not only help you relax and have fun, but also improve your health.
5. Take a nap
A short mid-afternoon nap will not only help reduce fatigue and make you more alert, but also make you feel more relaxed, says The Mayo Clinic.