When it comes to mental health and the workplace, another great topic suggested to me was “how to relax”. I particularly like this one because even though it may seem mundane, I think it’s quite interesting to address.
The internet is rife with articles on how to relax. Type it into google (I just tried) and you’ll find any number of suggestions from mindfulness, to yoga, meditation, sleep… Don’t get me wrong all of those are perfectly adequate solutions, but I actually believe there’s more to it than that.
As I said in the first post I wrote on living with anxiety, the key is to know yourself and know your triggers. What is it that hits your stress button and puts you in full fight or flight mode, with your heart pumping?
Most of the solutions suggested to you on “how to relax” are useful, and some scientifically proven, as for example taking deep breaths. But the truth is, they are not universal rules that work for every person that tries them. I for instance, am terrible at meditation. So here are a few things for you to consider as you wonder “how to relax”?
- What are the moments that cause the most stress for you? Is it your commute, reading your emails, deadlines…?
- What are the situations in which you feel the most stressed? Is it presenting in front of others, working with someone you don’t like, being put on the spot?
As you have a think about the above, try to ask yourself, why is it that these particular situations stress you out? And beyond the stress, how are they making you feel? This is a first step to understanding where your stress is coming from and trying to address the root cause, rather than calm your stress in the moment.
While calming your stress in the moment helps, and is indeed necessary to avoid meltdowns or other awkward situations, it’s also only a temporary solution. The real way you will be able to manage your stress is by identifying it’s underlying causes, and pairing the two solutions.
The other thing these questions help with, are recognizing patterns, key moments in which you are most likely to react negatively. If you know what they are, how can you prepare for them in order to feel less nervous? Is there a way to avoid these situations completely? Or at the very least, diminish the amount of times you have to be in them? This is also a step towards changing your environment and minimizing stress.
The next questions to ask yourself are the following:
- What do I enjoy doing the most?
- When do I feel happiest?
- When do I feel the most relaxed or calm?
- What are key factors to my feeling on top of things?
By identifying the above, you can start to make your own list of things that help you to slow down and take a step back from those stressful situations. In my case for example, I love to dance and it makes me happy. So when I’m stressed, rather than meditating, I can go out dancing, recharge my batteries, and calm my mind.
As you develop your list, make sure that whenever you are feeling stressed you carve out time to do one of the things that helps you, be in the place that makes you feel the most calm, or get enough sleep, if that’s going to cause you to be out of sync.
In addition the above, you can also ask yourself which of the key “methods to relax” found on Google work for you, and bank those as being ones you can regularly go back to.
What about you, what’s the best advice you’ve seen on how to relax? What do you do to relax?