In this article I will tell you about best ways to relieve stress without alcohol or drugs. Many people got used to de-stress with the help of alcohol or other drugs. But drinking, medicines and drugs provide only a temporary relief.
In a long-term perspective they cause damage to your nervous system and reduce your ability to resist a stress.
The more often you drink alcohol, the more difficult you relax without it. And each new stress and every case of fatigue cause the desire to drink.
Alcohol is not an appropriate means of dealing with stress. It destroys your body and is highly addictive. But many of us do not know other ways to relax and relieve the accumulated tension.
Earlier, I did not know about these methods as well. The only thing that helped me relax was a few liters of beer. But then I discovered much more effective and safe methods of getting rid of stress.
In order to use these relaxation methods, you do not need to spend your money on teachers or massage therapists. All you need is a quiet atmosphere and a little time.
If you master these methods, you will learn to relax yourself at any time of the day. You will no longer feel the need for alcohol as a means of relaxation.
The effect of these techniques is not limited to temporary action. Regular use of these techniques will boost your immunity to sources of stress and will teach you how to control the stress.
Practise Breathing Exercises
Diaphragmatic breathing occurs due to the raising and lowering of the diaphragm, an internal organ that separates the upper and lower part of the body. Unlike chest breathing, when you breathe with your diaphragm your stomach goes up and down, not your chest.
This breathing can effectively oxygenate your tissues; it provokes a more rapid release of toxins and helps you relax. When you are tense, you breathe with your chest at a quick pace, but in order to relax you need to take deep and slow rhythmical tidal breathing (perhaps, this is the reason because of which the smoker relaxes, inhaling and exhaling the smoke – it’s all about breathing).
How to learn the diaphragmatic breathing? It’s quite simple. Sit down or take a lying position. Keep your back straight, look ahead. Place one hand on your chest, the other one on your stomach. Breathe. If you are using the diaphragm breathing, then your chest rests, while your stomach goes down and up.
At the same time, there is no need to stick out and compress your stomach by some muscle force: the tension of your abdominal cavity must be due to the air that fills it, inflating your stomach like a balloon. The abdominal muscles should be relaxed.
Take tidal breathing as deep as possible, the duration of which shall be equal to each other. You can look at a stopwatch, measure these time intervals by heartbeats or count to yourself.
If you begin to feel dizzy – take some short breath-holding between the inhale and the exhale. Do not be distracted by other thoughts: the relaxation occurs more due to the fact that you fix all your attention on your breathing.
At first, the diaphragmatic breathing can go wrong, but everything comes with practice. Do this exercise during 3-5 minutes, 2-3 times a day, but not immediately after meals. After the exercise performance pay attention to your well-being. You feel calmer, isn’t it?
You can breathe this way before an important meeting, in traffic, at work (or after it) when you have to bring your head and nerves in order and to relax. Or, in case you want to relieve the accumulated tension.
Breathing with the compressed glottis manifests the more complex variant of the exercise. You should strain your throat in a special way to allow the air in and out of you through the narrow gap.
Then, during the tidal breathing, the sound “hhhhhh” shall appear. Thus, the difference of pressure between the outside air and the inside air is greatly increased, and the oxygen, that fills your stomach, begins applying pressure to its walls more strongly.
In this way, the more effective massage of internal organs and tissue oxygenation take place. Such breathing is used in yoga. When you will master the initial skills of diaphragm breathing, you can try it.
Try Yoga Relaxation Technique
Lay down on your bed or on any smooth surface. Turn the hands with palms up and lift them slightly in dismay, so that the angle between your hand and your body makes thirty degrees. Close your eyes. No other sounds should distract you. If you want to relax listening to music, then it should be a smooth and slow music for relaxation (ambient, calm ethnic music).
Slowly stop your attention alternately on each part of your body – from head to toe – and relax it: top of your head, eyebrows, mouth, throat, shoulder, left arm: humerus (bone of your arm), elbow, forearm, wrist, palm, fingers (you can stop at each part separately), again palm, forearm, elbow, humerus, shoulders, right arm: humerus … And continue until you reach your toes. Then, try to relax your entire body.
Watch your thoughts as an outside observer; they should not captivate you. If your concentration “floats”, gently return it back. Do not try to stop your thoughts and feelings at all costs; your goal is to relax.
Likewise happens during the meditation. The more you force yourself to relax and think of nothing, the worse you will succeed. Your willpower should relax; no need to force it to relax. In this state, you have no willpower, no desire, no intentions … You simply keep watching quietly.
Stay in this position from five to twenty minutes, as much as you need. Come out of it smoothly: by continuing to lie down and without opening your eyes, move your toes and then your fingers.
Slowly rolled onto your side and, helping yourself with hands, sit down (this is done in order not to make any sudden muscular effort).
Rub your palms until they feel the heat. Then, lean the open hands to your eyes, sit this way for a while. Slowly lower your hands and open your eyes.
Estimate your state; compare it to the one that existed before the practice. Now you feel much more relaxed.
This exercise is also used in yoga in order to achieve a complete relaxation after some physical activity. Its principle is that the body relaxation leads to serenity of mind.
Use this practice every time you have the need to relax.
In my opinion, meditation is something infinitely more than just a relaxation technique. It is a way of gaining inner balance, a method of self-knowledge, a concentration technique and self-control…
Even with all things considered, meditation is a very effective tool in dealing with stress. Regular training gives you the opportunity not only to relieve stress after a hard day, but to increase your ability to resist stress as well.
People, who constantly meditate, are less nervous, less worried about nothing, less angry and quarrel less; therefore, they get less stress than people who do not practice meditation.
The more stress you get, the more difficult is to cope with it. Therefore, reducing its daily volume is the key of successful getting rid of stress.
Meditation is a good way to achieve this goal. Meditation does not take much time, but it will give you serenity and appeasement, which are so much in need for a person in the modern life conditions.
You can find the information about how to meditate properly by following the link.
After yoga I feel as a new man. Fatigue and stress are gone. Problems are no longer as terrifying as they seemed to be before training. My mind becomes calm and clear.
But, often, yoga exercises require the presence of an experienced instructor and some time for the practice. It is much easier to practice meditation, because it can be practiced at home and can be learned independently. No need to look for a teacher.
Therefore, if you do not have the ability or desire to practise yoga, then start at least meditating.
These two practices complement each other perfectly. Three years ago, I began to meditate. A few months ago I started doing yoga. If it were not for yoga and meditation, my life would be much more complicated and not so happy.
Go in for Sports
A 20-minute run or exercising in the gym relieves tension perfectly, as though it had never existed.
Physical exercises force the brain to produce endorphins – “happiness hormones”.
Endorphins are natural painkillers, the production of which begins in the brain to prevent the possible pain, which may occur even during the physical activities.
In order not to feel fatigue and pain during the activity periods, our brain launches a small drug factory, which is inside us.
Some of you may think that sports activities present a cheerless occupation, which requires enormous willpower and discipline. This is not so. Many people, who are used to exercise regularly, cannot be pulled out of gyms and running tracks even by force.
This happens not only because these people set a goal of going to gyms and achieve athletic performance.
This happens because they are used to get their dose of endorphins every day in order to feel good and to be in a good mood. They do not want to disturb the existing order of things.
Sport is not only overcoming yourself and a test for your willpower; it is also a pleasure and natural getting rid of stress, which is needed for many people.
Hydrotherapeutic Procedures – Contrast Shower Hydrotherapy
You can go to the pool, swim in a pond near your house or take a hot bath at home. Hydrotherapeutic procedures – a great means of dealing with stress.
There is another great way to relieve stress and recharge your body with energy – contrast shower. This is an alternate pouring of hot and cold water.
Contrast shower not only relieves the stress, normalizes your sleep, relieves your fatigue and improves your mood, but also promotes the weight loss, improves your cardiac activity, work of vessels and strengthens your immune system.
Since I started to take a contrast shower, I almost stopped being ill with cold-related diseases. I actively use this procedure to recover from a rough day.
Read on the Internet about how to take a contrast shower in a proper way. Unfortunately, I have not yet written an article about this beneficial procedure. Carefully read the contraindications and proper technique, otherwise you can hurt yourself!
Listen to Music
It’s no secret that your favorite music cheers you up and gives you the feeling of happiness.
I believe that calm music is more suitable for relaxation, for example, ambient, soft ethnic music or light jazz (Miles Davis – “In A Silent Way” is suitable).
Maybe some of you will find these musical styles boring, let it be. This music should not captivate, it should relax and immerse you in a calm and meditative state. Roughly speaking, the more boring it is, the better it is for relaxing.
Boring – does not always mean bad. It simply means that in such a work of musical art there is no fast pace and frequent changes of mood. Good works of ambient genre are usually monotonous, smooth and very beautiful.
This music is suitable for meditation. Even if you do not meditate with it, but you listen to it with headphones while lying on bed with your eyes closed, then, this kind of rest will be similar to meditation.
Try such a pleasant musical exercise for relaxation. Let it be an occasion for you to listen to something new. Listen to, for example, such acknowledged masters of ambient as Brian Eno or Steve Roach. This is a great occasion to discover new musical styles.
Do not expect an instant relaxation: at first your thoughts will give you no peace, and you will fail in focusing on music. There is nothing to worry about. The flight of thoughts in your head – is a natural process. Relax and try to lie down with your eyes closed while listening to music at least half an hour. If you get bored – take it as a remedy for stress, not as a pleasure that you used to have from music.
If you like classical music, choose something smooth and fluid. Not all classical music is suitable for relaxation. Personally, I find it difficult to relax while listening to Beethoven, for example.
Get Rid of Negative Thoughts
When you are tired, stop thinking about your work and about vital issues.
First of all, these thoughts cause rueful feelings that provoke stress and fatigue. Secondly, as a rule, the tired brain finds it difficult to come to some problem solving of which it thinks.
Fatigue and stress affect your thinking and perception of many things. All sorts of nonsense can seem urgent and insoluble problems, when you are tired.
Especially, there is no point to think about it: you will not come to any decision, and you will chew the obsessive and unpleasant thoughts in your head as a chewing gum.
Relax and leave these thoughts over until tomorrow. Tell yourself that you will surely think about it, but not today. With the help of such a promise, you will be able to calm your brain, which is eager to start thinking about a problem.
Sleep and revitalization work wonders with your problem perception! Those things, that seemed difficult, unsolvable and urgent the night before, – become simple and unambiguous in the morning.
Yesterday, those things that took you a few hours of painful reflections and come to no result, – today, received a reasonable solution while you went down in the elevator!
Get rid of all the thoughts that cause tension, think about something else or relax. Meditate! It will help you take control of your thinking.
Rest from Information and Practise Contemplative Exercises
Take quiet strolls, look around and just watch …Look at water, look at the way the light plays on its surface. Look at the tree, peering at each bend of its bark and at movement of its leaves.
Try to think about nothing, and simply become an observer and contact the quiet contemplation.
Keep the position for a while, listen to the sounds around you, listen to your breathing and heart beat, feel the way you relax.
These exercises may seem boring, as well as listen to ambient music or meditate. Endure boredom – it will pass. The feeling of boredom that occurs in these moments manifests the consequence of the fact that your activity slows down. Your brain, which is used to the frantic movement and constant work, responds to the sudden quiet by some discomfort feeling and boredom.
Meditation, contemplative exercises and quiet strolls slow down this crazy inertia of the brain. If you do it not – you will not be able to relax.
If you will continue to attack the brain intensely with new pieces of information till the evening – you will not be able to learn to relax without alcohol, without drugs, without watching silly TV series.
You will not learn the way of getting rid of thoughts and enjoy the time spent alone with yourself, if your brain is always busy with some work.
You have to rest from information and from constant activity of your brain. Silence, quietness, quiet contemplation and meditation can help you with this.
Stop Paying Attention to Nothing (So what?)
We get stress because we attach to some things more importance than they deserve. We bother and worry about trifles, and then in the evenings we drink beer to relieve the tension. Try to take it easy.
Were you reprimanded by your chief? So what?
This is simply a measure that seeks to improve the corporation staff productivity and increase its profit.
Directors try to influence their subordinates, causing them feel embarrassment, appealing to their concept of responsibility in order to manipulate them for their own purposes.
Why should this concern you? Why should you worry about some scolding?
At work, you just make money – that’s it. Forget about your chief behavior and about your colleagues’ glances, if this is not applied to your goal of earning money.
Was someone rude to you in a traffic jam? So what? Why should someone’s upset nerves or excessive self-love spoil your mood? Let the man remain with his own negativity without transferring it to you.
Realize the things that are really important in your life. Maybe, it is your happiness and health and your relatives’ happiness and health? Then all the rest: work, your status, the way strangers treat you – all these are nonsense. Do not pay any attention to them!
Every time, when a problem related to these trifles occurs, ask yourself: So what? What next?
Did someone draw ahead of you and cut off you on the road? So what?
Do people at work gossip about you behind your back? So what?
Did your neighbor throw a malevolent look at you? So what?
Do not think that I am calling for a complete indifference to what is happening around you. You should not ignore the problem. If something is not as it should be, you need to figure it out and find a solution. Just do not worry about nothing. You shouldn’t have.
Maybe your colleagues pick you to pieces, because your fly is open and they discuss it now? Find out what’s wrong, learn the ropes…
Or maybe they do it because they like gossiping. Then this is the problem of these people. Leave these problems to themselves. No need to worry because of this.
How to Prevent Stress?
In order to prevent stress, you should learn to relax, to control your emotions and develop your willpower.
You should also get enough sleep, eat properly, keep your body in shape, often relax and get rid of bad habits.
If you stop to get nervous and worry about nothing, then, this will also reduce the amount of stress that you get.
I wrote more about this in the article How to stop being nervous. Therefore, I will not dwell on this issue here.
The Value of Self-control
That’s it! Remember, stress is your inner rueful feelings, your personal reaction to what is happening around. You cannot always change the course of events in the world that surrounds you.
But you are able to learn to bring your inner world into any condition and to determine what will be your reaction to some certain events.
Every individual can gain power of which he is unsuspicious. This is the control over your emotions, thoughts and feelings. This is your choice to be happy and balanced!