Learn to Unwind

slow down and smell the roses

Here’s the paradox: Relaxation takes effort.

Learning to unwind is not easy, particularly if you’re the hard driving, achievement-oriented type. It takes effort-that’s the paradox. You have to find what will do the job for you.

There are a number of a basic rules for keeping from getting wound up too tight. The first is to add balance to your life. Make a special attempt to seek out leisure activities that are different from you work.

balance food and fitness

The second rule is to work up a sweat once in a while. Research shows that 30 minutes of intense aerobic exercise immediately reduces body tension. Weight lifting counters anxiety and depression and boosts self esteem.

The third rule is that whatever you choose as a relaxation break, it has to be relaxing to you. Finally, you have to carve little breaks into your schedule. You need to put together a relaxation package, a set of techniques that will calm you down. Here are some ideas to try:

  • Pad your schedule. By allotting yourself enough time to accomplish a task, you cut back on anxiety. In general, if meeting deadlines is a problem, always give yourself 20% more time than you think you need to do the task.
  • Carry a canteen. Keep a plastic bottle of water at your desk, and drink often. When you are under stress, you sweat more, and then, of course, there is your dry mouth. You will feel better if you hydrate your high anxiety.
  • Practice your snorkeling. Want to really relax your muscles? Soak in hot tub. To get the most relaxation from a hot bath, soak for 15 minutes in water that’s just a few degrees warmer than your body temperature, about 100 degrees Fahrenheit. But be careful: Longer soaks in warmer water can actually lower your blood pressure too much.
  • Get a grip. Keep a hand exerciser or tennis ball in your desk and gave it a few squeezes during tense times. When stress shoots adrenaline into the bloodstream that calls for muscle action. Squeezing something provides a release.
  • Serve soup, live longer. Be a volunteer. Isolation only magnifies your worries. Helping other people will give you a sense of accomplishment; of self-respect-and remind you that, relatively speaking, your own troubles don’t amount to much. An added benefit: Self-sacrifice may help you live longer.
  • Hold your breath. This technique should help you to relax in 30 seconds. Take a deep breath and keep it in. Holding palm-to-palm, press your fingers together. Wait five seconds, then slowly exhale through your while letting your hands relax.
  • Smell the apples. A recent study found that men doing math problem under time pressure were less stressed if they were exposed to the scent of green apples. There is evidence that the sent of vanilla may also induce relaxation.

smelling apple

  • Tune out – have a potato. Eat a meal high in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates trigger the brain chemical serotonin, which soothes you. Good carbohydrate foods include rice, pasta, potatoes, breads, popcorn, and low-calorie cookies. Eleven ounces of carbohydrate is enough to relieve the anxiety of a stressful day.
  • Tune in – have a steak. It’s no help unwinding if you feel sluggish and tired, a high-protein lunch of meat, fish, or poultry will help prevent the afternoon blahs. Protein is loaded with tyrosine; an amino acid that has been shown to boost performance is the face of stress.
  • Don’t track dirt in. When you get home from work, avoid the temptation to bitch about your workday. Home should be a sanctuary. Don’t recount the stresses of the day. Instead, set aside 10 minutes or so quest time to put the workday behind you before you try to leap right into your loving-parent-and spouse routine.
  • Quit doing too much. Look at your life. Are you doing too much? If your are on the company sports team, volunteering on a social committee, and you don’t have a weeknight free, you are choking on more than you can chew. Decide what gives you the most pleasure and do only those things.


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