What are the best ways to relax? I read the book Margin, by Richard A. Swenson, MD. about 4 years ago on marginless living and excessive stress. He discussed the best ways to relax, avoid excessive stress and live a low stress life. To my surprise even 4 years later we are still figuring out how to relieve stress and increase margin in our lives. Our modern day lifestyle has and continues to devour margin in our lives.
Modern Day Living
Modern day progress and innovation has provided unprecedented affluence, education, health care, technology, food choices, and entertainment. We are a culture of convenience and speed. Then why are so many people, anxious, depressed, overloaded and overextended? Why is it so hard for many people to find the best ways to relax and combat excessive stress? Are there any fun ways to relax?
Creating Space for Yourself
What I have found from my own personal experience, the best way to relax in today’s modern age, you need to consciously create space for yourself to manage and reduce stress. You have to learn to put yourself and your health first, rather than last on your daily list of to dos.
This sounds easy, but in reality it will be one of the hardest things you commit yourself to and it will require daily reaffirmation, dedication and persistence. You are going against the grain of modern day society. In our sped up world, we are asking you to make a conscious choice to slow down.
Re-programming your life
No longer can you do what is convenient. You are now choosing to do things that are best for your health and well being. This is one of the best ways to relax. This will take time to re-program years of conditioning around work, sleep, play, friends and family, consumerism and materialism, and living the “typical” American dream.
Don’t worry I am not going to make you turn in your cell phone, computer and car and go live out in nature off the land. What I am asking is that you make some small changes in your ever day life that will give you more margin and more peace. Hopefully will also provide you with some of the best ways to relax and avoid excessive stress and live a low stress life.
Top 7 Tips for Managing Stress
Remember start small and honor yourself with where you are at. Living a low stress life is a journey and it will take time to change your habits that you have lived with for years.
1) Clean out your life starting with your body
If you have been constantly eating fast, processed or/and highly sugary foods it is time to start with cleansing out your body and your system. If you have no energy to do daily tasks such as cleaning the kitchen or doing your laundry, we need to get your energy up. That is through cleansing your body and getting trace minerals and vitamins into your system, quickly and efficiently. To learn more about nutritional cleansing click here.
2) Nurture your body, get plenty of sleep.
Women generally need 8-10 hours a night, and men generally need 7-9 hours a night. If you need it let yourself take a nap in the middle of the day. Sleep is one of the most under rated things you can do for your health. When you are sleeping, your body is working hard to re-build cells and fight off infections in your body. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and allow your body to naturally wake up when it has gotten enough sleep. Taking an afternoon catnap is one of the best ways to relax.
3) Declutter your life and stop hoarding stuff.
We have spent years consuming and acquiring stuff that we don’t use anymore and have become space and energy drains. Start with one room and go through the room and ask yourself is this functional something that you use regularly or beautiful (provide an aesthetic value)? If it doesn’t fall into either of those categories I would challenge you to gift it to a friend or family member, donate it or recycle it. If you are going through your bedroom if you have not worn something in over a year, it is time to pass it along to someone who will love it. We are culture that is attached to things and stuff. But the more things and stuff that you own the more energy it takes to maintain it. The less stuff you have the more room and energy you have to do things that you love, rather than constantly maintaining your stuff. Which will lead to a low stress life.
4) Manage your time and give yourself plenty of space in between appointments.
Create down time for yourself every day. I generally don’t schedule any meetings until after 11:30am. This gives me the whole morning to catch up on things, tie up loose ends, relax, read, write or journal. If you work at a job where you have to be at work at a certain time, just make sure that after you leave work that you give yourself time to relax before you move onto the next thing. Do things that help slow your life down. If you enjoy getting massages, book a massage every single week or month. If you like to do crafts, sports etc, plan time every week for you to engage in something that you love. Creating time for yourself is one of the most valuable things that you can do to manage excessive stress.
5) Build a strong support system around you.
Hang out with like minded friends and family that make you feel good after you hang out with them. With the growth of the internet, cars and suburban sprawl we have become very isolated individuals. Isolation can lead to depression, anxiety and increase in stress. Take some time every day or at least once a week to hang out or talk to people that you love and respect. Good relationships take time and effort so choose carefully.
Have a least one day a week where you have nothing on your schedule. This is day that you can do whatever your heart desires for that day. Do things that are soul nurturing to you. I would recommend having 30-60 minutes of down time every single day. This is decompression time where you don’t have to do anything taxing or stressful. You can tidy up the house, go through your mail, read, garden or catch up with friends.
7) Create financial margin for yourself and your family.
You ask why would financial margin be one of the best ways to relax? One of single biggest stressors in life is money. It is primary cause for divorce and separation. Which is why having financial margin is key to managing excessive stress. Create a budget and stick to it. Meet with a financial planner so you know you are not living beyond your means and start saving money for a rainy day. In today’s climate you have to watch out for your own financial well-being. Everyone is trying to sell something to you, if you are not careful you will spend a lot of time and energy buying things that you don’t really need or want. That ends up getting stuffed into a closet to be forgotten. Put yourself on a shopping moratorium as you clean your house, don’t buy anything new for at least 30 days. Except for food and household necessities.