It’s easy to tell someone to “just relax.” But in an upsetting or chaotic situation, it can seem nearly impossible to force yourself to relax. The worst part is that often the best ways to relieve stress seem counterintuitive. Working out after a long day? The last thing you want to do. Taking five minutes out of your insane schedule to just sit and take deep breaths? That’s five minutes you could spend crossing tasks off your to-do list.
But the truth is that no matter how much of a rock star you are, stress can eventually wear you down and affect your ability to function. “There is a very strong relationship between stress and coping. The belief in your ability to cope with a stressful situation determines your level of suffering,” says L.A.-based psychotherapist John Beradino, who specializes in a wide range of mental health conditions, including trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder.
We don’t want you to suffer more than necessary due to the stress in your life, but we won’t tell you to just relax. Instead, we’ll give you some ideas on how to relax. So take a deep breath (trust us) and read on for ideas on how to regroup and unwind.
Call a Friend.
A good conversation with a loved one can help relieve stress by providing you with social support. A study published in 2011 in Developmental Psychology showed that the presence of a friend during a negative experience helps protect a person from the harmful effects. So ring up your BFF as soon as possible and you might feel your stress subside.
Keep a Sanctuary.
Your surroundings can play an important role in your stress level. Identify the scents and colors that put you at ease and use them in your favorite place. Though your days may be hectic, try not to let this space get messy — you’ll want this place to beckon to you as an oasis rather than to make you feel guilty at the piles of clothes on the floor. For relaxing scents, we love The Body Shop’s Aloe and Soft Linen Reed Diffuser and Voluspa’s Branche Vermeil Reed Diffuser.
You’ve heard meditation is a great way to mitigate the effects of stress, but what some people don’t know is that meditation can be as simple as taking deep breaths in a quiet space and paying attention to those breaths. You don’t need incense or world music to meditate. You just need to slow down and listen to yourself breathe.
Treat Yourself Well.
We know a bubble bath isn’t going to wash away your worries, but it may help you regroup. Taking time out to pamper yourself can help you slow down enough to recognize your abilities and appreciate your strengths.
How do you deal with stress? Sound off in the comments!