The scientific community cannot say with certainty that chronic stress causes life-threatening diseases. What they can say is that people who are severely stressed are often tired. Some come to rely on habits like overeating, drinking alcohol, and smoking to “feel” more relaxed.
Anyone with a job, a mortgage, or college tuition looming in the future knows about clenched jaws, tight muscles, and fatigue. Massage and vacations help, but how often can you afford either one?
The good news is that anyone can slow down and relax without taking out a loan or taking up hours of time.
A good rule of thumb is not to set large goals that will become burdens instead of bringing relief. Think of small activities you enjoy and then fit those into your daily life.
Here are some ideas to start you generating your own list.
1. Cook something
Cook something you really like to eat, but do it from scratch.
2. Light some candles
In the evening, lights some candles. Dim the overheads.
3. Don’t eat in front of the TV
Don’t eat in front of the TV at least one night a week.
4. Plant a seed
Plant a seed. Type A’s should plant a green bean. It will grow almost overnight.
5. Write a letter
Buy a fountain pen and write a letter with it. Don’t laugh. E-mail is wonderful and quick, but you are searching for a way to get rid of that kink in your neck, remember?
6. Leave the computer
Leave the computer, cell phone, Blackberry off for at least a half hour. For total addicts, start with fifteen minutes. Okay, four.
7. Take a walk
Take a walk before settling in for the night, or, if possible, at lunch.
Doodle. You might be surprised at what you see on that scrap paper when you’ve shifted your brain to neutral.
9. Pet your dog
Pet your dog. If you don’t have a dog, borrow your neighbor’s for a moment.
10. Treat every day
Give yourself one treat every day. The treat doesn’t have to be big, but it should make you sigh. It should make you pause in your hectic routine long enough for you to notice how relaxed you feel.