Saturday, February 20, 2016

16 Ways to Reduce Stress

At the end of last Friday's post, I promised this week I would write about ways to reduce stress, primarily to reduce fatigue and fibromyalgia symptoms. And now I am late because I slept 14.5 hours on Friday. Not straight through, but I could not seem to wake up completely, so I went back to sleep. Has anyone else woken up to thinking someone was at your door? I swear, it has happened to me three times in the last six weeks.
So, let's get to it. Many of these can be Googled to find free sources to get started doing them.
  • Meditate. This is, admittedly, not something I do. Yet. I bought something to get started, though. Writing this might be the kick in the pants to doing so.
  • T'ai Chi. This gentle form of exercise and stretching also includes meditation. There is a great article, "Tai chi: A gentle way to fight stress" at (my favorite site for all things medical). 
  • Yoga. Another gentle stretching and meditation form of exercise. One benefit is becoming more flexible and move more fluidly. 
  • Shrugging. When I am in pain, I have a bad habit of tensing my shoulders, neck and upper back. A way to release the stress is shrugging. Here are two videos that demonstrate the technique I use: 
  • Music. "Musick hath charms to soothe a savage breast." - William Congreve (Yes, it's "breast," not "beast.") I listen to the Enya station on Pandora with my earbuds in. I live alone, so it is not necessary for quietude, but the earbuds are part of my process. 
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation. I did not know the name of it until now, but I have been doing this for more than 20 years. I could write it out for you, but I found a source that already has: Progressive Muscle Relaxation Script. I found this, aptly, at The Guided Meditation Site, where there are many meditation exercises and downloads.
  • Journal. Write it down! Get it out of your head! Whatever is bothering you, write about it. If desired, write solutions to whatever the problem is that is causing you stress.
  • SCREAM! If you are alone in your house, great; if not, go into your car, turn up the music, and let it out. (The music is to cover the scream in case someone is walking by and thinks they should call 9-1-1.)
  • Laugh. Watch funny movies, listen to comedians, find funny YouTube videos, etc.
  • Take a bubble bath. With or without wine, candles, or books. Tell your family members to use the bathroom before climbing into the nice, hot water, and then stay in there until the water is too cold or you are too prune-like.
  • Aromatherapy. Personally, I find the scent of lavender to be very calming. I have it in a lotion, combined with chamomile, which I rub on my chest and between my nose and upper lip.
  • Eat dark chocolate. It stimulates the release of endorphins, the feel-good chemical in the brain.  
  • Drink chamomile tea. This is a great herbal tea to drink before bedtime.
  • Get a massage. For some people with fibromyalgia, this would be torture, but for many, it helps reduce muscle tension. Every massage I have had has been accompanied by soothing music. I particularly like having aromatherapy oils used. The therapist can help you with the decision on which oils should be used. 
  • Read. A funny or romantic novel is probably better than a mystery or suspense book. 
  • Sleep. Easier said than done, right? Getting enough sleep helps ease stress, but stress impedes sleep. Reading in bed is better than watching television when it comes to sleep. There should not be any lights on, either - turn your digital alarm clock away from you so the glowing numbers do not disrupt your sleep.
I hope some, or all, of these methods of handling stress are helpful for you.