My husband made me an appointment for a massage and facial last weekend. This means one of two things. Either, he is having an affair, and the guilt prompted the call to the spa, or, my stress is beginning to show itself in ways worse than I recognize. While the trip to serenity was wonderful (he reads YesFive, so I can’t complain here for fear I’ll never see another free spa day), I spent the first hour trying to clear my mind and relax. I spent the next hour angry that I couldn’t clear my mind and relax. September is a crazy time for parents and kids alike. Couple this with the exciting expansion of my TipsFromTown (not all stress is bad), and I am wound up tighter than a three dollar wristwatch. I have a twitch in my left eye, my TMJ has kicked in with a vengeance, and I cried during a car commercial last night. Time to take my own advice, take a deep breath and take it easy.
Quick Ways to Bring Down the Stress
1. Laugh – Perspective is a wonderful thing. Think of something that made you once laugh really hard and smile. Chances are, laughter will follow. If you can’t think of anything, send me an email. I’ll share one of mine. Most of them are too embarrassing to put here … but they’re funny.
2. Listen to music and sing along – Try Let It Go by the Zac Brown Band or Beautiful World by Colin Hay if you need some inspiration. If you just want to forget about today, blast some Asia. I have found that putting in my earbuds and listening to the 80s can get me through any arduous task, and better yet, drowns out all the noise, noise, noise, noise, noise.
3. Breathe – Studies show taking several deep breaths actually reverses the physiologically dangerous stress effects. Mimicking the type of breathing you naturally do when relaxed, tricks the brain into actually being relaxed. If you are like me these days, with a weakened, exhausted frontal lobe, your brain is easier to trick than ever … in and out, in and out.
4. Stretch – Think of the area from your shoulders to the top of your head as the stress triangle. The muscles in this area are especially prone to responding negatively to psychological stress. You furrow your brow, clench your teeth and tense your shoulders, resulting in neck and shoulder pain, TMJ problems and headaches. Give these muscles a break by taking a few moments to stretch. Pull your shoulders away from your ears, roll your head and loosen your jaw. For the forehead, I think soon I will be able to convince myself that botox is a viable anti-anxiety med.
5. Nap – When all else fails, go to sleep. Even 15 minutes of quiet relaxation will have a positive effect on your stress level. Maybe you’ll even have an exciting dream.
While some stress is good and necessary, too much is dangerous to your health, resulting in elevated blood pressure, increased risk of depression, obesity and infidelity. I am feeling much more zen now. I do need to hire a detective though, any suggestions?