Stress is the cause of most illnesses according the latest research.  Chronic stress has a significant effect on the immune system, increases risk of diabetes, can lead to peptic ulcers or ulcerative colitis and the correlation between high level of stress and mental health is quite well known too.
In my practice, I have found that stress and its effect on the body has a big part to play on how well people are feeling. From digestive disorders to fertility, from pain (such as back or knee pain) to insomnia, symptoms are often made worse by stress.
It is also clear that the question ‘so what do you do to relax?’ is taking some people by surprise. It is rarely an activity that we consciously seek out, nor do we see it as an essential thing to do but more as an indulgence that can happen when all the important things have been done (which often means not that often!)
Seeing the effect of stress on the body as well as its effect on our general wellbeing, it really makes sense to take particular attention on taking some time off at the end of the day to finally relax and destress.
Here are 8 quick ways to relax at the end of the day
- Do a quick 10~15 mins meditation.
That’s probably the one a lot of acupuncturists will favour because it does have profound effects, even modifying our brain after a few weeks of practice. There are some great apps around now. Headspace and Insight Timer are the two apps I prefer.
- Pick up a physical activity.
It doesn’t have to be something complex, a simple walk around the block will work just as well as going to the gym. But moving your body is a great way to make that energy move in your body and reduce your stress. Remember how energised you can feel after a nice workout? That’s the effect of destressing.
Whatever makes you laugh. It can be a special type of comedy, a cute YouTube video of kittens, spending time with some friends. Just spending some time every day laughing will lift your mood up.
- Practice some yoga.
This one is a favourite of mine because it mixes the physical side (moving the body and stretching) to the more meditative side (by concentrating on your movements and on your breathing). See whatever works best for you, a class, a video or just doing the movements that you know work best for you.
- Sing you heart out.
Singing has been found to reduce the level of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the body). It is excellent for calming anxiety down both due to the concentration needed (which helps you relax the mind) and the deeper breathing (what we call abdominal breathing) involved. And if you feel self-conscious about it, try singing in the shower or when you are alone.
- Take a bath.
Make that time a nice relaxing time, add some Epson salt (which are great at relieving stress) as well as some essential oils such as lavender. Maybe add some candles if you feel like it and/or some nice music in the background.
- Be grateful.
Everyday think about how the day went and make a mental note (or even better write it down!) of you can be grateful for. It can be things such a remembering the person who left you pass at the junction to thanking the opportunity to meet up with friends or for the meal in front of you. This will help you shit your focus from all the negative thoughts to all the positive and beautiful things happening around you.
- If you still feel that nothing is quite working for you,
Have a look at this list of 50 things you can do to relax for some more inspiration.
(Many thanks to Action for Happiness for this fantastic diagram. You can find more information about what they do at www.actionforhappiness.org)
What about you?
Do you have a special time planned in your day to relax? Are you finding that those methods are enough to help you deal with everyday stresses?
Sometimes, self-care isn’t enough and you might find that you need a bit more support. If you find that your symptoms flare up with stress and whatever you do isn’t quite working, come and see us. Simply give us a call on 01642794063 and we will help you put those under control.
 Life event, stress and illness. Malays J Med Sci. 2008 Oct; 15(4): 9–18.