Life Support: How to be calmer
Essential skills for the modern world
Monday 02 February 2009
Feelings of stress can be overwhelming, but remember that they are just that – feelings. It is possible to take control of one's emotions using simple physical and mental techniques.
Spend some time alone
Constantly being surrounded by other people can heighten anxiety. Mobile phones and email add to this, making it very difficult to disconnect from friends and family while at work, and vice versa in the evening and at weekends. Sometimes in order to switch off one has to do just that.
Exercise releases endorphins and thereby reduces stress, albeit temporarily. However, the type of exercise that one chooses to do is also important. While high-intensity workouts are great for blowing off steam, gentle exercise such as yoga, pilates and walking actually prove more effective in reducing long-term stress.
Not getting enough sleep can increase stress levels. If you find it difficult to wind down before bed and the hot drink and warm bath remedies are failing, progressive muscle relaxation can help. Lie down and slowly tense and relax each muscle in your body in turn.
Take a tip from the over-sixties
People over 60 are more likely to feel a sense of calm and ease than their younger counterparts. Adopting a more forgiving attitude could be a good way of avoiding stressful clashes.
Stress can sometimes be a positive force, sharpening a student's mental acuity in exams or pushing sportsmen to perform better out on the field. But usually it achieves very little. Indeed, while stress has been linked to strokes, recent research has shown that calm people are less likely to suffer degenerative diseases such as dementia.
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