Carrie Demers, MD
Here’s a short list of easy ways to blow off steam, relax, and de-stress no matter how little time you have. Tap into these simple, common-sense approaches to bring yourself back into balance whether you are frustrated with a situation at work, facing a problem at home, tired from being on the go all day, or just need to gain some perspective.
This list offers proven techniques for unwinding: humor, playfulness, movement, music, connecting with nature, relaxation exercises, writing, and gratitude. Try a few and let us know which are your favorites—or tell us if you have other ways of managing your stress and nourishing your mind, body, or emotions after a hard day or a tough week.
When you have less than a minute:
- Take 5 or 6 slow, deep, diaphragmatic breaths. Imagine you are exhaling stress and inhaling energy.
- Sit up straight, smile, and think of three things to be grateful for today—really grateful for.
- Spend a moment immersed in a memory of a time when you felt completely relaxed and happy.
- Sip some chamomile tea—it’s been proven to soothe ruffled nerves.
Think of three things to be grateful for today.
When you can take a 10-minute break:
- Go for a brisk walk or climb some stairs.
- Dance to music you love! (In your house, behind closed doors if you prefer.)
- Do a few gentle stretches, shoulder rolls, and twists to loosen up tight muscles.
- List five things that are positive or potentially funny about a situation that has you worried or upset.
When you can take a 20-minute break:
- Unwind by elevating your legs: Lie on your back with your calves on a couch or a chair so there is about a 90-degree bend at your hips and knees. Rest and focus on relaxing your breath; 20 minutes in this “constructive rest” position is equal to a 2-hour nap.
- Take a walk in nature (under some trees or by a body of water, if possible). Breathe the fresh air and connect with the rhythms of nature.
- Play a musical instrument you enjoy.
20 minutes before bed:
- Turn off the computer, television, tablet, and smartphone, and go outside and look at the stars.
- Soak in a hot bath.
- Journal about your day.
Once in a while make time to spend an afternoon, evening, or whole day on one of these activities:
- Indulge in an at-home spa bath: put on soft music, light some candles, pour some scented bath salts in your tub, and enjoy a long soak in hot water.
- Get a massage.
- Try an exercise class: dance, yoga, spinning, Zumba.
- Learn something new: cooking, drawing, flower arranging, take up a musical instrument, or join a chorus.
- Make time for arts that inspire you. Go to a gallery, a play, or a concert.
- Play like a kid (or, even better, with a kid): spend time with a favorite activity from your childhood.
- Get outside and connect with nature. Take a long hike or go to the beach (or ice skating or snowshoeing, depending on the season).
- Socialize: spend time with good friends.
Try a few, and see which ones helped you de-stress!
ABOUT THE TEACHER
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Board-certified in both internal medicine and integrative medicine, Carrie Demers, MD, is a holistic physician who blends modern medicine with traditional approaches to health. After receiving her medical degree from the University of Cincinnati, Dr. Demers went on to study massage, homeopathy, nutrition, herbal medicine, yoga, and ayurveda. She has been the medical director of the Himalayan Institute PureRejuv Wellness Center (formerly Total Health Center) for the last 20 years. Widely recognized for her expertise, Dr. Demers has been interviewed by numerous magazines and newspapers, and lectures nationally on holistic health and ayurveda. She is a frequent contributor to yogainternational.com and the Himalayan Institute online Wisdom Library.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ayurveda (/ˌɑːjʊərˈveɪdə, -ˈviː-/) is an alternative medicine system with historical roots in the Indian subcontinent. The theory and practice of Ayurveda is pseudoscientific. The Indian Medical Association labels Ayurvedic practitioners who claim to practice medicine as quacks. Ayurveda is heavily practiced in India and Nepal, where around 80% of the population report using it.