What keeps Australians awake at night? While for some, it may have been too much pizza, for most business people today, especially entrepreneurs, managers, and executives, it’s stressful. Simply put, there is too much to accomplish and not enough time to complete it. In today’s frenetic corporate atmosphere, many rely on pharmaceuticals and medication to get through the day and sleep. These simply help to compound the negative impacts of stress on one’s life.
These are the top nine stress-relieving techniques I teach all of my clients, which significantly lower their stress levels and enhance their sleep.
1. Being conscious of your thoughts and beliefs Pay attention to what you think and feel throughout the day. Do you have negative, scary, or limiting thoughts? Do you worry about money, your health, and the people in your life? If you have bad thoughts, bad people and things will come into your life. You are doing the exact opposite of what you want to do. Try to let go of the idea and replace it with one that makes you feel better.
2. Visualization: When people regularly practice imagery, there are undeniable physical changes that take place. Creating a mental image in your mind is a very powerful practice to use in the morning when you get up and at night before you go to sleep. Start by unwinding with music or in silence and imagining a serene setting. Then envision in your mind what you want to happen. “I am totally relaxed; I will wake up with the solution to my problem; and I will sleep soundly all night.” If you use this technique often, you can get these messages into your subconscious mind and trigger the relaxation response whenever you want.
3. Meditation: Ten to twenty minutes of meditation before bed can be very helpful for reducing stress and getting a good night’s sleep.
Sit quietly in a comfortable chair, close your eyes, and breathe deeply. Focus on your breath; relax your chest and body. When your mind wanders and you find yourself immersed in other ideas, let the feeling or thoughts go and return your focus to your breathing. This practice works quickly to reduce stress and rebalance your body. Continue for at least ten minutes or until you feel drowsy.
4. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise
It’s a great way to get rid of stress and protect our bodies from the effects of stress. Engage in aerobic activity; take a walk, run, or swim. Try a new, fun exercise such as NIA, belly dancing, or boxing. Exercise in the evening, however, can be counterproductive, particularly if the exercise is vigorous.
5. fun and humor
One of the healthiest ways to combat stress is through humor. Take yourself lightly and your work seriously. When we laugh or even smile, blood flow to the brain is increased, endorphins are released, and levels of stress hormones drop. Start to notice how often you smile. People—who are happy, having fun, and laughing—sleep soundly.
6. Diaphragmatic Breathing: The following exercises make use of the breath and can enhance the ability to fall asleep due to their calming effect.
Put one hand on your abdomen and close your eyes. Inhale deeply with your nose, and then let it out slowly and fully through your mouth. Your stomach will become flatter. Exhale fully, drawing in your abdomen. At the conclusion of each third exhalation, hold your breath for as long as you can. Then repeat the process two or three times, or until you feel sleepy.
7. Take action. Rather than worrying about the situation over and over or spending sleepless nights thinking about the repercussions, take some action to move the matter forward. Talk to a friend, get a therapist, journal… just do something. Putting things off hurts your productivity, makes your anxiety worse, and makes you feel guilty, angry, and low on yourself.
8. Get Serious: Hire a coach who specializes in stress reduction and mind-body coaching. Create a plan for changing your way of life, set goals, take responsibility for them, and start living the healthy lifestyle you’ve always wanted.