Contents

• Introduction

• Welcome To Your New Guide To Stress Relief

• What Does Stress Do To the Body?

• Activate the Relaxation Response

• Techniques (List of Top 10)

1.     Get Moving! 

2.     Build a Social Support System

3.     Express Yourself Creatively

4.     Meditate

5.     Laugh

6.     Care for Yourself

7.     Take a Break from Technology

8.     Spend Time with Nature

9.     Work on Your Thinking

10.   Food and Drink


Introduction

You know the feeling when your mind is racing?

Did you remember everything on your to do list?

Are all the kids in the right places?

Did you delegate that project to the right person at work?

Is everything okay with your husband?

Oh and your friend Julie, her birthday is coming up and you need to plan a party. Then you think… “I think I’m going to need another coffee” which is followed by a deep sigh.

Women are multi-taskers, balancers and planners. We are just made that way; with innate abilities to manage a community around us. However, at times, the responsibility can be overwhelming. We lose ourselves and forget that we need time for ourselves- amidst taking care of everyone and everything else.

When we do finally get time to ourselves, there is often that moment where we stand there and don’t quite know what to do. “Maybe during my free time, I should sit down and right down all the things I’m stressing about on a real to-do list. Then I could better organise them.”


Welcome To Your New Guide To Stress Relief

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We are here to offer up fresh new ideas on how to relax in your free time. Science says that when we are stressed, our bodies are in one state; then when we are relaxed, they are in another. So, with that in mind, you just need to find some techniques to use regularly to relax. Activities should be incorporated that you enjoy and which benefit your mind, body and soul.

Not sure where to start? Read on. Below is the ultimate guide about stress, relaxation and a variety of techniques to de-stress, specifically for women.

Sorry men, this one is just for the ladies, and it won’t include playing paint ball, drinking a six pack, or hours of playing Call of Duty. Let’s start by digging into a deeper understanding of what happens when we are stressed.

 

What Does Stress Do To the Body?

Why does the body go into a state of stress, when we are not dealing with life threatening situations? I mean, planning a party for a friend is important, but no one is going to die if it doesn’t happen. However, it feels that way when planning all the details and trying to get everything done on time. In truth, the body has one stress response mechanism, the good old fight or flight. This is great when facing threats like a car accident or a bear approaching. However, it can be a bit much for the many small problems which arise each day in modern life.  Here is more about how it works…

When a stressful event occurs, (you forgot that your child’s football practise ended an hour earlier than normal today and the coach just called.) a distress signal is sent from the emotional processing centre of the brain to the hypothalamus, which acts as the command centre of the brain. It sends signals through the nervous system to the rest of the body, activating many involuntary functions of the body such as breathing, heart rate, and the dilation or constriction of blood vessels.(You say “Oh, shoot!” jump up and run to your car)

The adrenal glands are triggered and begin pumping epinephrine throughout the body via the bloodstream which begins to cause changes in the body like increased heart rate, pulse rate and blood pressure. Respirations increase. Senses such as hearing and sight become heightened. If the perceived danger continues, the brain will keep the “gas pedal” pressed down until the threat has passed. (Your stress response will be triggered until your child is safely picked up and in your car.)

While most women do have an idea of what kind of damage continued stress can do to the body, few feel they have a way to “put on the brakes”. When this stress response is triggered on a regular basis, the body begins to get exhausted. We see problems like high blood pressure, higher likelihood of fatty deposits in the arteries, and susceptibility to depression, anxiety, or addictions. Some research has even shown a connection to obesity and trouble sleeping. What can we do to avoid these issues and overcome stress in life? While we can’t change our biological make-up, we can change how we respond to stressful situations.

 

Activate the Relaxation Response

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Fortunately, there are just as many ways to relieve stress as there are for causing stress. Dr. Herbert Benson has devoted his career to helping others to learn ways to combat stress, otherwise known as relaxation responses. Many studies have been done concerning the effectiveness of such training for individuals suffering from stress. It has been shown that when relaxed, our bodies go into healing mode and repair damage done on a cellular level during highly stressful times. This is necessary to counteract the stress response.

 

Techniques

Now, to put relaxation into action. It’s time to discover how to integrate more relaxing activities into your life. The great thing that many woman have forgotten is, relaxing is very enjoyable. There is something for everyone, from physical activity, to spending time with family, to getting outdoors. Below, find 10 of the most popular ways for women to relax, along with ideas on how to get started.


1. Get Moving!

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Exercise, especially forms of cardio, help to relieve stress by opening up the airways and allowing deeper breathing. It also helps to reduce muscle tension. Try the following activities to get yourself out and moving at least once per day for a period of at least 30 minutes.

Yoga Routines help elicit the relaxation response, while also improving focus, back pain and flexibility. Yoga journal has some great yoga sequences you can try

Practise Tai Chi

Go for a 10 minute walk

Stretch, take time to slow down and stretch different muscles throughout your body. The neck, shoulders and hamstrings are often where stress is held

Go for a jog through a park

Play with your children at a playground

Climb a flight of stairs

Do a funky dance, just turn on some fun music and let loose in your house

Exercise with friends or family

Get an Indo Board. These are those small boards which balance on a cylinder. They are a great work out, require focus and help with balance

Start a new sport such as tennis or softball as a way to meet some new friends and get active

  

2. Build a Social Support System

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While there isn’t much as far as scientific research on why friends and family matter at times of stress, it’s probably clear to those who have been in stressful situations that having people you can call on is very important. Spending time with those close to you allow you to relax and enjoy life together. Here are tips on building a solid foundation for yourself with your friends and family.

Kiss your loved one. This actually releases endorphins in the brain which work opposite of stress

Make time for intimacy with your partner. WebMD reports physical intimacy with your partner is a huge stress buster

Join a web-based support community. Finding a group for meditation or chatting about things that cause you stress with other like-minded people can be quite positive for reducing tension

Spend time with friends. It’s actually been documented that spending time with your friends can help lower cortisol in the body, leaving us happier

Recruit help when facing challenges. When an upcoming event is causing you stress, reach out for help. The connection can bring about relief in a multitude of ways

Connect with others. Even a brief conversation in line at the grocery store can add some stress release

Spend time with your pets. Pets are great at lifting spirits and reducing stress

Cut off negative influences. Life is short. Spend time with people who decrease your stress, not add to it

Participate in activities that focus on someone else

 

3.     Express Yourself Creatively

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Writing, drawing, doing crafts, and just generally being creative is a great way to relieve tension, and put yourself in a positive mindset. Plus, once you’ve finished with the craft you have chosen, you usually have something tactile that you can use in the future to remind you to let go of stress in your life.

Craft. Repetitive movements, like knitting, can be soothing to the nervous system, helping to stave off anxiety brought on by stress. Big DIY features many project ideas you can check out here for inspiration

Write Poems. Poetry allows you the chance to relieve tension in a positive and creative way

Keep a diary, this will help you reflect on daily events and can release some of the built up stress

Keep a gratitude journal. Practising gratitude is a great way to change negative thoughts into positive ones

Paint or Draw

Do a puzzle. These can be crossword puzzles, word searches, etc. which cause you to focus on something besides stress

Learn to sew. This skill can come in handy for many reasons in the future too.

Catch up on books. Reading requires a large amount of your attention which effectively triggers the relaxation response. Check out the top books for 2015

 

4.     Meditate

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There are many different ways to meditate. But for those who have found relief in meditation, there is only one final outcome: peace of mind. Because meditation can take many different forms, try a few out and see what suits you best. Don’t be discouraged if at first you find it difficult to let go of stressful thoughts. Stick with it and you will soon discover why this ancient secret is not so secret any more.

Use visualization, lead yourself through a relaxing visual meditation

Deep breathing. Yogis the world over use this technique on a regular basis. Breathing deeply, letting the breaths take a few seconds on both inhale and exhale, triggers the relaxation response in the body

Use progressive muscle relaxation. This involves tightening and relaxing parts of the body individually, starting with the toes and working toward the head

Find stillness. This simply means finding a mental place that is calm and unchaotic

Use aroma therapy. Certain scents can help relax the body and even promote sleep, such as lavender, petit grain, chamomile, geranium, sandalwood and rose. Stress relief candles can be great for this, as well as diffusers. Look for products that use essential oils and aim to provide aroma therapy stress relief

Guided visualisations. These are easy to find on iTunes or YouTube and are typically easier for people who are not very experienced in meditation

Light incense. These are also used in aroma therapy stress relief, and can help to relax the body. Try sandalwood

Make time for peaceful rest in a quiet place

Light a candle, a simple flickering flame can help you to relax

 

5.     Laugh

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Laughter has actually been proven to improve blood flow and lower the heart rate. So find time to laugh, either alone or with friends. Because laughter really may be the best medicine for stress relief. This is also helpful for learning to de-stress at work.

Smile. The phrase “fake it ’til you make it” actually holds some weight here in that even a phony smile can trick the mind into a more positive mental space, which subsequently helps relieve tension

Watch funny videos online. There are so many places to find funny videos of animals or children on the internet. So take some time to seek them out and laugh a bit

Learn to laugh when things don't go well. It might be difficult to find a humorous moment when things seem dismal, but trying to make light of troubling situations can help keep of the stress at bay

Share funny experiences with friends

Go to a comedy show

Watch funny television shows

• Take time to chat and share funny stories with co-workers

• Look up a joke of the day

• Spend quality time with family and find humour in your experiences

 

6.     Care for Yourself

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It can seem all too easy to put yourself last when stress pokes its ugly head in your life. However,  taking care of yourself by eating right, trying to get adequate exercise, even making sure you get enough water and sleep, can all be key to overcoming stress. 

Listen to music you like

Create a relaxation room. Making a place in your house or apartment that is specifically for you to come and relax can be helpful if you find it hard to step away from stress

Find productive activities. Crafting, volunteering, anything that helps you to focus on something positive and use up some nervous energy

Get a massage. One of the bests gifts for stress relief that you can get for yourself

Take a hot bath which can be enhanced by stress relief products like bath bombs, bubbles, aroma diffusers and candles

Say no to unnecessary obligations. Learning how to say no or realise that things CAN wait can seem difficult but vital to caring for your own well-being

Change your hair style. Sometimes pampering yourself and a new look are just what you need

Get your beauty rest. Making time to get a good night’s sleep in a comfortable place is a great way to care for yourself

Schedule cushions in your calendar. In other words, take the time to decompress from one event before jumping to the next

Find activities that make you happy

Keep your room clutter-free. It doesn’t matter if the rest of the house feels like a disaster, try to keep your bedroom clean and neat to avoid the stress of waking up to a mess in the morning

Create a self-care ritual

 

7.     Take a Break from Technology

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Mobile phones, computers, tablets, iPods…It’s enough to give you a headache, and probably does! Setting aside your technology, even for a portion of the day, can help to relieve the stress of constant bombardment of social interaction.

Take a break from your mobile phone. Anyone with an overprotective mother will tell you phone conversations are often the cause of stress. Shut your phone off, even for an hour, and listen to the silence

Take a break from all screens. It’s not just the mobile phone that can cause stress. Take time away from all your devices and see how much less stressed you feel. Take a tech-free lunch to find office stress relief

Turn off notifications. It might be hard to actually turn your phone off, but you could start by turning off your notifications, for a little peace and quiet

Reconnect with traditional methods of communication. Write a letter to someone, stop by their house or office for a quick hello

Have a phone basket at the ready to collect all mobile phones, helping to promote being “in the moment” when spending time together with friends or family

Put down technology an hour before bed. This helps your brain to prepare for sleep, which allows you to enter into deeper sleep

 

8.     Spend Time with Nature

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Being cooped up inside all day is bound to drive you mad. Instead, take some time to step outside. Even for a few minutes, and inhale that outdoor air. There is nothing like nature to teach you that all things get done eventually and don’t have to be rushed, often they really shouldn’t.

Buy a plant. Plants are great for relieving stress and calming the nerves

Get a fish tank. It is very relaxing to watch the fish swim around the tank during down time

Look out your window and take in what is going on in your surrounding environment

• Get yourself flowers, a little beauty can brighten up your day

Go camping

Go hiking and take a friend! While it might not be possible for everyone, hiking is such a great way to commune with nature and get a little exercise too

Exercise outdoors

Read a book in the shade of a tree.  Leave technology and civilization behind and get lost in a book while you’re lost in nature

Eat a meal outside, picnic anybody?

Grow a garden. Growing fruits and vegetables is a great way to relieve stress and keep your food choices healthy

Go for a bike ride

Take your dog for a walk

 

9.     Work on Your Thinking

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When finding ways to deal with stress, it’s not just enough to think positively, but you may need to think hard about what causes your stress. Often people can work problem up in their minds to be much worse than they are. Understanding those thoughts, and all the other ways thoughts can bring about stress, is a great first step to managing stress.

Prioritise and manage your time. Not only should you make time for yourself, but give yourself plenty of time to accomplish tasks throughout the day

Process your emotions. Stress can often lead to emotional upheaval. Take time to feel your emotions instead of bottling them up

Make a list of things you are grateful for

Challenge yourself mentally and physically.  Listen to lectures on your iPod or set a new exercise goal. Achieving goals can help boost positivity

Focus on the present, these quotes from Goodreads can help inspire you

Identify your triggers. This can be difficult and emotionally taxing. Finding someone to help you through this, like a counsellor, can make finding the root of your stress more manageable

Get organized. This includes mentally and in your home and office. HGTV has some great tips when it comes to your home organisation

Eliminate procrastination. Putting off things until later results in more and more stress. Do what can be done today, today?

Forgive others. Don’t hold on to resentment. It is like a hot coal in your own hand

Set single tasks. Instead of making a giant, daunting list of things that must get done, focus on one single task at a time and reward yourself for accomplishing it

Become aware of your stress and manage it purposefully. Sometimes simply acknowledging that you are feeling stress can help relieve it

Join a mindfulness course

 

10.  Food and Drink

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There is an old saying “Let thy medicine be thy food and thy food be thy medicine.” The food and drinks you consume, do have an effect on emotions, the way you feel, energy and stress. Some have used “comfort foods” which have high fat and high sugar to ease stress, (think donuts, milkshakes and chocolate cake). These can quickly lead to weight problems. It is important to feed yourself nutritious foods which will nourish your body and create a strong foundation for yourself in life. When health is poor, it is much more difficult to handle other stressors. Here are some food and drink related tips to keep in mind.

Chew gum. Chewing gum can help expend nervous energy when you’re stressed

Eat potassium. Potassium is good for helping to regulate blood pressure when you’re stressed and can possibly protect your body from any negative side effects of continued stress such as heart attack and stroke

Drink green tea. It has many health benefits including a calming effect

Eat nutritious foods. Fruits, vegetables, complex carbs, lean meats and healthy fats. The more whole and natural the foods are, the better

Cook a new dish. Cooking your own food is relaxing and empowering. Trying something new and experimenting with new recipes is a great way to relax

Reduce salt intake

Say no to comfort foods

Eat fibre. Fibre is good for your digestive tract which can become irregular if you’re stressed too often. It’s also good for your heart

Eat more fish, it’s a great source of omega-3 fatty acids

Drink lemon water

Start your day with a green smoothie for a positive mood and high energy, be sure it includes healthy fats

Mix coconut oil and chia seeds for an energy boost. Mix 1 tablespoon of each in the morning (don’t take it before bed!) and you’ll have natural energy for your whole day

 

Three Step Formula 
to Improve your Wellbeing

Now, if you found those 10 tips useful, we’re only getting started!

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