20 Tools in my Relaxation Tool Box

Are you a "Stressed Out Sally" or a "Calm Carrie"?

Are you good at managing your stress or do you allow yourself to become a victim of it? How we respond in stressful situations is OUR choice, and if we let stress fully consume us, our health is going to go down the toilet.

Some negative effects of stress --just to name a few-- include skin issues, gastrointestinal issues (e.g. nausea, diarrhea, constipation), weight gain, and an increased risk of depression, heart disease, and stroke.  Yikes, no thanks.

I'm not Perfect

2011 so far has been one of the most stressful years I've had in a while (for reasons I'm not going to get into here). All of the events that have unfolded have been blessings (some more disguised than others) and I remind myself daily that everything happens for a reason and that every experience is a learning experience.  Dealing with these challenges has given me the opportunity to take my own advice and "walk the talk" by using some of the tools that I recommend to my clients.

Today I'd like to share with you the stress management techniques that I've used over these last 6+ months with the hope that you give them a try or that they inspire you to come up with your own list. (I add new ones to it all the time, but for purposes of this post, figured I'd keep it to a nice round number.)

Always keep your tool box full and accessible because you never know when you're going to need it.

This is what's in my Tool Box:

(In no particular order)

  1. Yoga (I prefer hot yoga...it's like I'm sweating the stress out of my body...but any yoga is beneficial)
  2. Deep Breathing (inhale peace and then release the stress on the exhales)
  3. Meditation (more deep breathing, pure focus and concentration)
  4. Journaling (get it out of your head and onto paper)
  5. Reading (nothing wrong with a little escape from reality)
  6. Crying (think about how much more relaxed your body feels after a good cry)
  7. Exercising (channel that stressful energy in a positive way, get the blood flowin' and boost those endorphins--your "feel good hormones")
  8. Getting a massage (I go once a month...it's an amazing feeling, allowing myself to completely relax)
  9. Spending time outside (bonus if it's sunny out)
  10. Smiling (even if you don't feel like it, fake it till you make it...try it and you'll see how hard it is to be as stressed with a smile on your face compared to how you felt originally)
  11. Listening to calming music (instrumental, "new agey" music relaxes me almost instantly) or music that evokes positive emotions (for me, happy country music does the trick)
  12. Watching funny videos online (laughter really is the best medicine)
  13. Drinking something warm (I find hot water with lemon or herbal tea to be especially soothing)
  14. Drinking wine (usually just half a glass does the trick for me...enough to take the edge off if something is really weighing on my shoulders)
  15. Maintaining a relaxing, stress-free, uncluttered environment (I like to spray my apartment with a Lavender scent, keep it neat and clean, and have flowers on my coffee table at all times.
  16. Visualizing the process of letting go of the stress (whenever a stressful thought enters my head, I envision a box with wings, which I stuff to the brim with the stress, tape it shut, throw it far away with all the strength I have and let it fly away)
  17. Spending time by myself (an ideal environment to confront the stress head-on...no distractions, no judgment)
  18. Surrounding myself with friends (positive people who know how to make me laugh, who know how to have a good time, and who are there for me if I need to get something off my chest. Being with friends is very nourishing...more nourishing than drowning yourself in ice cream...trust me)
  19. Removing myself from people who are negative or who cause me stress (these "Debbie Downers", "energy suckers", or people who don't support your happiness are not going to help you move forward...they are the ones who are going to keep you stuck.)
  20. Expressing gratitude every night before I go to sleep(as I lay in bed, I say at least 3 things that I'm grateful for...this helps me maintain perspective by showing me where my stress is in the context of the bigger picture and also lets the universe know that I acknowledge the good in my life and don't take them for granted, even when the world looks grey)

What are some of the tools you keep in your Relaxation Tool Box? Share them in the Comments section below!

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