Stress is predominant in our society. Most of us are running here, running there, doing something at high speed, seldom relaxing. And they thought they were living busy lives a hundred years ago!

“This strange disease of modern life with its brisk hurry and divided aims.” – Matthew Arnold (1822-1888)

To improve upon this stressful way of life we can reassess our values and routines. If possible, we can eliminate some of those things which are not necessary to a contented life, and we can slow down. Achieving a stress free way of life will help keep us healthier and living longer and make our time here a lot more fun.  

You can often visualize your way out of tension by picturing yourself in a very calm, peaceful, serene setting, in complete easy control. Picture it clearly and hold on to it. You can use your imagination in many different ways to help siphon off tensions – when at the bathroom sink or in the shower, let all your worries, stresses, anxieties, run down the drain with the dirty soapy water.  

When you start to feel stress coming on, immediately try relaxing the muscles and fill your mind with thoughts of peace, tranquility, confidence, strength, happiness. Repeat these and other calming words to yourself now and again. Take notice of, and enjoy your surroundings all through the day. Look at, listen to, smell the limitless variety of things natural everywhere.

Make a determined effort to please someone. Offer help, agree, smile. This is much easier than trying to impress others, or trying to be perfect. Thinking of, and interacting with others, can be very soothing on the nerves, particularly if you expect no credits.   

“The American over-tension and jerkiness and breathlessness and intensity and agony of expression are primarily social, and only secondarily physiological, phenomena. They are bad habits, nothing more or less, bred of custom or example, born of imitation of bad models and the cultivation of false personal ideals.” – William James (1842-1910)  

Practicing relaxation techniques can help calm our days when they get too stressful. It’s easy to miss out on enjoying a day in our life if our minds are filled with worrisome thoughts and our bodies are tense with stress. A day lived is not coming back and we should not lose it in this way.

For starters, eliminate some things. Avoid running around frantically trying to do too many things. Slow down and move with an easy manner. 

If you cannot avoid problems and busy days, get in the habit of pausing to breathe slowly and deeply. Try to continue with easy breathing as you continue on with your tasks.

When tightening up, say at your desk, relax all your muscles. Let them go limp and loose like a soft towel. Don’t try, just let it all go. Consciously let the muscles relax every time you feel them tighten, which might be all day long to start with. It is almost impossible to feel stressed if your muscles are relaxed. 

If you can get a short break create a detailed peaceful retreat in your imagination and go there to calm your feelings. Picture it in vivid detail. Perhaps a comfortable room with soft music, a quiet place in the woods, a placid lake, a beautiful garden with flowers, trees, birds. Perhaps such a place already exists. While you are there, let go of everything except where you are.

Create a personal selection of calming words like serene, tranquil, peaceful and repeat them to yourself as you move through your day.

After work perhaps you can have a relaxing pastime such as walking or listening to music.

“There is however, a true music of nature – the song of the birds, the whisper of leaves, the ripple of waters upon a sandy shore, the wail of wind or sea.” – John Lubbock (1834-1913)