Tip #4: Stress Balls
When we become stressed, anxious, or frustrated, our bodies tend to clench up and become static. For moments like this, stress balls are a useful mechanism and outlet. The act of squeezing stress balls repeatedly allows our bodies to release tension and give us much-needed relief. Stress balls can also improve focus and increase concentration.
Stress balls have health benefits as well. When using stress balls, the nerves and muscles in our hand and wrist begin to stimulate and contract, making them stronger. This improves nervous system functions and reduces physical injuries. Stress balls also have been known to not only decrease stress but can promote better sleep and enhance a general feeling of well-being, overall improving the quality of life.
To engage in this stress management exercise, simply squeeze the stress ball, hold for thirty to ninety seconds, and release. Do this repeatedly for five minutes or longer.
Tip #5: Stretching
Stretching is a fundamental way to improve overall health and fitness. Stretching is also known as an effective way to reduce stress. When we are stressed, we can hold “emotional stress” in our bodies and create more tension in our muscles. This causes our bodies to become uncomfortable. Similar to stress balls, stretching allows us to release tension in our bodies and curb stress. Using longer-held stretches with simple breathing can have meditative effects, even if we are not physically mediating. Doing this allows our brain to relax, become focused, and releases emotional stress and muscle tension from our body. Stretching may also improve quality of sleep by reducing mental stimulation, which is common in people who struggle with insomnia.
Here are a few stretches to help relieve stress:
Classic Neck Stretch:
- Keep your spine straight.
- Clasp your hands behind the back of your head.
- Move your head down, as though you were trying to push your chin to your chest.
- Use your hands, clasped behind your head, to push into a deeper more relaxing stretch.
- Adjust your position to relieve stress further down your spine.
- Get into a kneeling position with your knees hip-distance apart and feet together behind you.
- Take a deep inhale, and on the exhale lay your torso over your thighs, pressing your butt onto your heels and reaching your arms forward.
- Think about lengthening your neck and spine by drawing your ribs away from your tailbone and the crown of your head away from your shoulders.
- Rest your forehead on the mat. You should feel a stretch on your backside and possibly in your hips. You may also feel a stretch in your arms if they are straight in front.
- Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
- Start on all fours with your shoulders over your wrists and hips over knees.
- Take a slow inhale, and on the exhale round your spine and drop your head toward the floor (this is the Cat posture).
- Inhale and lift your head, chest, and tailbone toward the ceiling as you arch your back for Cow.
- Continue performing reps for 30 to 60 seconds. You should feel a stretch in your spine and possibly your glutes and shoulders as well.
Tip #6: Positive Thinking and Affirmations
Words and thoughts have significant power over our minds, bodies, and our performance. Sometimes these words, which may be self-deprecating during stressful times, can negatively impact our wellness.
Positive thinking and affirmations can manage negative words and thoughts, reduce stress, and improve overall health. Positive thinking is used as a productive mechanism to approach negativity and promote resilience. Positive thinking starts with self-talk and filtering negative thoughts that cause stress and anxiety in our lives.
Positive thinking, paired with affirmations, can also reduce stress. Affirmations are strong, positive, self-statements, spoken in the present tense about goals that one wants to accomplish. Carefully worded affirmations can guide our behaviors in constructive ways and reframe negative thoughts that are causing stress. This can also promote better sleep, decrease depression, build coping skills, and improve the overall quality of life.
Here are some examples of affirmations and how to re-frame negative thoughts into positive thinking.
- I am healthy, happy, and radiant.
- I am capable and today is a new day for me to improve my skills.
- Every day, in every way, I am becoming better and better.
- I am focused and motivated
Negative Self-Talk to Positive Thinking
- I have never done this before.→ This is an opportunity for me to learn something new.
- I am too lazy to get this done. → I could not fit this into my schedule, but I can re-examine my priorities to improve in the future.
- I am always making mistakes.→ I am improving and becoming a better person.
Legal Disclaimer: This post is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship between Parker & Covert LLP and any readers or recipients. Readers should consult with a mental health professional of their own choosing to discuss how these matters relate to their individual circumstances. © PARKER & COVERT LLP 2021.