Thursday, August 11, 2016

How to Relax in 4 Easy Steps

How to Relax in 4 “Easy” Steps
I constantly scroll through instant media pages and read how I can accomplish something in “4 Easy Steps.” “Geez”, I think to myself. “If it were so easy why hadn’t I managed this before?” The truth is, these are merely catchy headlines. We are all struggling with something and there often is not a magical 4 step process. However, in 4 steps we can set ourselves up for goal oriented behaviors.
Many adults who seek counseling are stressed. This stress leads to unhappiness and anxiety. By trying to keep every ball in the air, such as work, family, home, and self a person feels like there is barely room to breath. What people do not realize is the rule of “putting your own oxygen mask on first.” If we cannot care for ourselves first, we will have nothing left to provide to others. Learning to cope and relax is imperative and often one of the first steps to emotional health.
  1. Do one thing a day for you. Many people start their day off from the minute their feet hit the ground caring for others. Some grab their smart phones and send an email for work immediately. Others attend to a baby or make breakfast for a child. You could be working on homework your child “forgot” to do the night before while also trying to make it to work on time. Many people’s day does not end at 5. There is more work to be completed, kids to be cared for, dinner to cook, and a house to attend to. This is why I challenge you to do one thing. Whether it is to work-out for 30 minutes, take a bubble bath or watch a television show. Know that this is your time.
  2. Journal. How many of us lay down in bed and have our entire day repeat itself in our head? Sleep becomes restless and anxiety increases when we do this. I advocate having a journal by the nightstand. All those thoughts that repeat in your head, write them down. Visualize them in the book, then watch yourself close the notebook. Mentally store them in that “safe place” until the next day. Having 8 hours of restful sleep is imperative to relax.
  3. Exercise, meditate, yoga, color, or do deep breathing. All of these activities have been shown to decrease stress. Pick the one that works for you. Surprisingly, adult coloring has been shown to greatly reduce stress. Exercise, meditation, deep breathing and yoga are all forms to help the body relax. Pick the one that works with your personality and be consistent.
  4. The most important step to help you relax is to eliminate the negative thoughts. I recently read a quote that said, "When we fill our thoughts with the right things, the wrong ones have no room to enter." Make a choice to think about positive things. Do not focus on the negative. You will be amazed at the difference you will feel when you remove the negative thoughts.

Written by Amy Rollo, M.A., LPC
Clinical Director, The Center For Children & Families

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