Stress Management Exercises

3 Simple Tips To Lift Your Stress

These stress management exercises are a wonderful way of dealing with stress as it arises. By dealing with stress head on you reduce the chances of suffering from a build up of stress which could lead to health problems.

What are 3 stress management exercises you can do now to relieve stress?

1. Physical Exercise

Relieving stress by exercise is immediate and fast working. The tension stored in the body is released through physical activity.

Even getting outside for a walk and getting into the countryside will shift your mood and improve your stress levels.

Other exercises which are good for dealing with stress in the moment are yoga, swimming and tai chi.

So if you feel stressed now get physical and connect to the body rather than the mind.

2. Smiling and Laughter

It has long been considered that “laughter is the best medicine” and I agree wholeheartedly. If life is really stressful then try laughing. As daft as it may seem, laughing will shift your mood.

Have you ever found that a situation is so unbelievable and hurtful but found yourself laughing instead of crying? Have you ever done this and found to your amazement that the incident doesn’t hurt half as much as it should!

Smiling and laughter are important stress management exercises

• Find your favourite comic (Calvin & Hobbes, or Snoopy or Beano) and laugh. Enjoy yourself. Whenever life got challenging when I was living in the monastery I always got out Calvin & Hobbes. This was my major stress reliever!

• Find a really funny film and laugh your socks off: Charlie Chaplin or The Marx Brothers or Monty Python. How can you be stressed when you are laughing your head off?

• Tickle a friend or partner or even better get tickled yourself. Have you ever tried to be serious when you are being tickled? Have you ever tried to be stressed when you are being tickled? Yes, impossible!

Smiling on the other hand is one of the best stress management exercises that I use all the time. No matter how bad it is you can still smile. Sometimes we get stuck in childhood pain tapes which say, “I am miserable so I will not smile".

Smiling is a really powerful stress management exercise as was proved by an American university. This university made a test on a group of stressed and depressed individuals. This group were all taking anti-depressants at the time.

For 2 weeks the researchers made this group of depressed individuals do 1 thing for 20 minutes a day. At the end of the 2 weeks the group were all able to come off their anti-depressants and were considered “happy”.

What did they do for 20 minutes a day?

What made them happy again and stress free?

They were made to stand in front of a mirror and smile at themselves!

So smile when you feel low and watch how it changes your mood straight away. Try it and see - what have you got to lose? Being happy? Being stress free?

3. Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises are immediate. You have access to these at all times of the day and they can be done anywhere, at anytime.

Things to watch out for are don’t do them if they will distract you from what you are doing or be dangerous e.g. using heavy machinery. If you feel dizzy stop, rest and start again more gently.

Stress Management Exercises - Breathing exercises are great for reducing stress

Step 1:

Breathe in through the nose (if you have trouble breathing through the nose then through the mouth is fine). Imagine that you have a red balloon in your stomach. With the in breath you imagine that this red balloon is being filled with air and is growing larger.

Step 2:

When you have breathed in fully and the balloon is full imagine pinching the neck of the balloon with your fingers so the air doesn’t come out. Then hold your breathe for a count of 4 or whatever number you feel comfortable with.

Step 3:

Imagine releasing your fingers from the imaginary balloon and allow the air to leave at the same time that you breathe out.

Step 4:

Continue this exercise until you are relaxed and stress free. Feel free to change the colour of the imaginary balloon as you go along to help you keep your concentration.

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