Get a Pet
It may sound a little drastic but studies have shown that animals can help to relieve tension and improve a person’s mood. Pets offer companionship and unconditional love as well as giving us a focal point for our lives. Also, having to take a pet out for regular exercise forces us to be a little more active ourselves and we, as well as our pet, will reap the benefits of this additional exercise. A pet can also offer a focal point for our lives and help to divert our attention away from stressful situations or environments. The act of looking after a pet can afford us a sense of achievement and worth, a lack of which is often a root cause of stress and unhappiness. Studies have also shown that petting an animal can help to lower our heart rate and cause us to relax. However, we should remember that pets are a long term commitment and the decision to get one should not be entered into lightly.
Check Your Posture
Posture is a small thing that can make a big difference for combating work related stress. Many of us spend hours and hours at a time sitting at our desks. This inactivity of this can be damaging in and of itself but when you add poor posture into the mix it becomes a much more serious problem. Prolonged sitting at work has previously been linked to a decrease in mental well-being and so, aside from posture which we will discuss in a moment, make sure you are taking regular breaks to stretch your legs. Bad posture can lead to tension in your back, neck, shoulders and arms. This is not conducive to a stress free, comfortable and happy work day. The first thing to do is to make sure that your work station is ergonomic (set up according to health best practises). Key points include making sure your lower back is well supported, sitting with your knees level to your hips, makings sure your forearms are straight and level with the floor, having your computer screen at eye level and positioning your mouse as close to you as possible. Ensuring you display correct posture is not a cure for stress but will certainly help to alleviate the aches and pains that magnify it.
Sing Yourself a Song
Singing can be used to release pent up tension within us. Many people report feeling a sense of ‘freedom’ after belting out a tune in the shower (or wherever they like to sing). Singing helps to draw more oxygen into the blood, lower heart rate by controlled breathing and improve circulation. Recent findings suggest that those who sing in a choir consider themselves as having a higher quality of life than those who don’t do any kind of singing. Singing also brings an element of fun in to our lives. A consultant physiatrist at Brighton University recently said:
“There are hidden reserves of strength and hope, and indeed happiness, that singing somehow spontaneously helps people to find”.
A messy house or office is sure to be a contributing factor to the stress in our lives. Endorphins that make us feel happy are released when things are clean and well ordered. Untidiness or clutter can get in the way of us completing stress busting hobbies. It is difficult to work out if our kit is still lingering in the laundry pile or if our yoga ball is buried under a pile of books. Having a tidy home will also encourage us to be more social, friends are another great stress buster and we won’t be ashamed to invite them over if our houses are in good order. Keeping a clean kitchen will also help to combat the urge to order junk food takeaways which will ultimately make you feel sluggish and bloated. The activity of cleaning is also great as a mini-workout to get your body moving and your mind focused away stressful thoughts.
Get Back to Nature
The great outdoors is jam packed with natural things that are proven to help relieve stress. Take the sun for example, being in sunlight releases Serotonin which is a natural mood booster. Water is also incredibly relaxing and just sitting in or near to running, bubbling water can be soothing. Hydrotherapy and spa therapy have become really popular over the last 10 years and offer a whole host of benefits including loosening tense muscles, stimulating blood flow, increased immunity and detoxification. Apparently we can perform up to 20% better on tasks requiring memory or close attention after a 10 minute stroll in the park. Another (rather random) study found that the smell of freshly cut grass had a positive impact on the moods of drivers with road rage. Instead of sitting in front of the TV to try and relax get outside and do some gardening, take a dip in a hot tub or swimming pool, do a lap around the local park, go for a country walk or find a nice spot to sit with a good book and a picnic!
About the author: Vikki writes for leisure and relaxation experts the Hot Tub Company, and her goal for 2014 is to beat stress with yoga, running and losing herself in a good book.