The Unrelaxers Stress Relief

We've all got favourite ways of relaxing, but some are more effective than others and some aren't really relaxing at all. Let's be honest ? flopping in front of the television can be just the job after a day spent running after children and speeding around the shops. But edge-of-the-seat game shows and horror films can leave your heart pounding like a woodpecker. And if you've spent an equally tiring day sitting at a desk, more sitting is just what you don't need.For many women, a coffee or cigarette break is the only chance they get to stop working. But caffeine and nicotine are stimulants, not relaxers.

The short break is actually to 'unrelax', to take chemicals on board that will help you stay alert a bit longer. However, they do the same when you've finished work, and are trying to wind down. They are addictive, so having one is a relief because it stops the craving.But while sitting down to a familiar ritual can be relaxing in itself ? the caffeine and nicotine whizzing round your bloodstream keep everything hyped up (and even tea contains some caffeine) ? herbal teas, or the beverages sold in health food shops, are a better bet for relaxing.

Alcohol is famous for helping people relax ? often more than they intended to. But though it can ease stress, unknot tense muscles and bring on sleep, the benefits are only temporary ? you'll breathe shallowly and wake up early. Beware, too, if you start finding that you can't relax without it.Not all drugs are equal, of course. A drink or a couple of coffees a day shouldn't do any harm unless you're pregnant or have been warned off them by you doctor.

Some researchers even recommend a glass of wine a day to keep the heart healthy. Tobacco, on the other hand, offers no benefits of any kind. It's harmful even in small amounts and ? never mind dying young ? causes more boring, painful, totally avoidable ill-health than anything else in the Western world. Relaxing with a cigarette is like trying to sleep on a bed of nails ? it causes stressful reactions such as speeding your heart, so the body can't relax deeply.

It's expensive too, saving the cost of a packet of cigarettes a day will pay for a genuinely relaxing weekly treat. If you're worried about putting on weight, healthy eating and exercise will keep it off.Overeating is another false friend when you're under stress.

Don't feel guilty, just find more helpful ways of being kind to yourself when you need it.Tranquillizers may seem the only answer when you're desperate, but these addictive drugs only help for a short time, if at all. After that, they cause more damage than they could have ever have cured.

If you're at the end of your tether, ring the Samaritans ? listed in your local phone book ? or ask your doctor to refer you for counselling or to put you in touch with one of the self-help groups set up by fellow-sufferers for all kinds of problems. These can also give sympathetic, practical advice if you're already hooked and need help coming off.Standing Up To Stress.When something makes you feel stressed, there are three ways of reacting:.

1. Changing things outside, by taking action to solve the problem.2. Change things inside, by accepting what's happening and coming to terms with it.

3. Do neither, and worry helplessly.Needless to say, the first course of action is best, whether it's joining an environmental action group or refusing to clean up after everyone.Some things can't be changed so, option 2, you simply have to live with them ? any energy you put into resenting them is wasted.Often, though, you can compromise with a mixture of 1 and 2. Take money, for example ? that prime source of worry.

You can try to earn more or spend less. Cut up credit cards and find new pleasures that don't cost anything, until the wheel of fortune turns back in you favour.Contact anyone whom you owe money (especially is they own your home) and arrange to pay in manageable instalments.Take whatever steps you can to protect yourself and your family, stay out of any more debt, look after your health, learn new skills that could earn extra cash.

And then stop worrying. Hand to do, yes, but not impossible. Meditation and breathing techniques are a big help here, creating a feeling of peace and calmness. And like any exercise, they get easier the more you practise.Worry is worse than useless ? its paralysing effects stop people doing anything constructive. It stops you enjoying what you've got.

And it can cause a host of problems of its own, such as phobias and panic attacks.Learning to relax clears the mind and frees up energy, making it easier to find solutions. The only answer is:.? Relax.

? Think what to do.? Do it.? Get on with your life.Keep Worries In their Place.

If you can't stop fretting over a problem:.? Make an appointment with it. Every afternoon, say, from 2.

15 to 2.30, settle down and worry about it. Give it your full attention and get as upset as you need to. No, honestly ? try it.

If you don't feel comfortable sitting down to it, do it while you're ironing. But only for fifteen minutes ? set a timer and stop when it buzzes. When you catch yourself worrying at other times, stop at once ? but promise yourself you've only got to wait till 2.15.? Wash it away. Worry to your heart's content while you're washing up or cleaning floors ? but only then ? and throw your worries out with the dirty water.

? Write it down. The whole dreadful story, and all the awful things that could happen. Then burn it or tear it into tiny pieces. The same where you're angry ? write a steaming letter to the person who's upset you, then make sure you destroy it.

Just don't send it!.

.Dr Laura Mastif Stress Reduction Expert - London UK.

By: Laura Mastif

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