Helping Creative People Create

Survey Results Show the Best Ways to Relax

a nice place to stop
Creative Commons License photo credit: Mollivan Jon

Editor’s Note: Post written by Albert van Zyl of Headspace.

The blogosphere is awash with advice on how to destress and relax. How do we know what to believe and what is just recycled and repackaged from previous posts? Jesus’s advice was that one should judge the tree by its fruit. So we should judge the value of advice by the state of the person giving it. But the web doesn’t allow us this luxury.

So we have to find other ways of judging the value of advice on how to destress. I decided that there must be some truth in numbers and did a poll of which destressing advice comes up the most often. To save some time, I only consulted top ten lists. This informal ‘survey’ consulted 13 top ten lists of how to beat stress. Mail me if you want to know where to find the sites. So which bits of advice came out tops? The number of votes each of these got is indicated below.

Breathing to relax: 8 votes

The folks at Mind-Energy advise that you lie down or at least sit comfortably. Close your eyes and concentrate your attention on your nostrils, where air enters the nose. Take a slow and deep breath in through your nose. Notice how the air is cold, entering your nose. Hold your breath for a seconds holding your attention on the same spot. Breath out slowly and quietly through the nose. Notice how the air is warm on your nostrils on the way out. Do this for a few minutes, until you let disturbed thoughts go and feel relaxed.

Sleep: 7 votes

Paula Quick rolls out the familiar opinion that for most people seven to eight hours of sleep is ideal. Of course, some people can function well with fewer hours depending upon their makeup. The key thing is to know when you clearly aren’t getting enough and to make adjustments. Sleep is the time that our bodies use to rejuvenate itself. It is hard to feel relaxed when we’re exhausted from a lack of sleep. For my money an afternoon nap is better value for money. Short, sharp and very relaxing.

Get some exercise: 7 votes

Stress-and-relaxation.com argues that stress causing hormones – like cortisol and norepinephrine. The way these chemicals work in promoting a feeling of euphoria is debated,  exercise obviously has a mood elevating quality. All you need is 20 to 30 minutes of vigorous exercise 3 to 5 times a week. Find something that you like and do lots of it. Whether it is Yoga, aerobics, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, walking or jogging, exercise helps in releasing stress.

Meditate/Pray: 7 votes

According to Jenny Stamos Kovacs at medicinenet.com meditation doesn’t only mean twisting your body into an uncomfortable position and uttering “oohs” and “omms”. Any repetitive action can be a source of meditation: this includes walking, swimming, painting, knitting—any activity that helps keep your attention calmly in the present moment. When you catch yourself thinking about your job, your relationship or your lifelong to-do list, simply let the thought ‘escape’, and bring your mind back the repetition of the activity.

Have fun: 6 votes

Candledance.com’s advice is to have physical fun. When we are told we SHOULD do something we get rebellious, and we resist doing it. So rather tell yourself that you COULD. You COULD go for a stroll after dinner. You COULD join a tap dancing class with a friend. So give yourself permission to choose, and life becomes more fun and stress free.

Visualization: 5  votes

Elizabeth Scott at stress.about.com recommends that you imagine yourself achieving goals like becoming healthier and more relaxed, doing well at tasks, and handling conflict in better ways. Also, visualizing yourself doing well on tasks you’re trying to master actually functions like physical practice, so you can improve your performance through visualizations as well.

A few of my favorite stress busters didn’t get many votes, so I thought I would sneak them in anyway.

Have a cuppa Tea:

Even though it has the same amount of caffeine, black tea has a curiously settling effect. And then there are the secondary advantages of the tea break as well. Lifedev recently reported a study that found that the morning tea break ritual provided time, space and an environment where nurses can ventilate their feelings and gain each other’s support.

Get organised

Ronnie Nijmeh at  argues that clutter makes us feel disorganized and out of control,  which stresses us out. Take a weekend, or even a couple of hours, to get rid of the things you no longer need and organize your home or office.

The Art of the Bath

Paula Quick at  laments that taking a good bath has given way to the quick shower for many people. But nothing can beat a long, hot soak for the ultimate in quiet time, reflection, and relaxation. Light some candles, diffuse some essential oils, put on some relaxing music and simply go “ahhhhh.”

Be grateful each day

The folks at abundance-and-happiness.com advise that we take out a piece of paper and make a hand written list of the things that you can think of that you are grateful for. Think deeply about each area of your life and begin to write in detail the good things that come to your mind as you write. Make sure that you are finding and writing things that you are sincerely grateful for. If the emotion isn’t there, the result won’t be either.

Albert’s blog provides weird, insightful and funny bits that allow you to protect and enhance your Headspace. Check it out or subscribe to his feed.

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  • http://shanelyang.com/blogs/articles/ Shanel Yang

    Great list, Albert! I'd also add diarying. Sometimes, just letting those jumbled thoughts tumble out and flow onto paper (or the computer screen if you use an online diary) really helps you unwind even the most knotted problems.

    • getheadspace

      Yes, Shanel, that is an important addition. Getting in down on paper does seem to reduce the menace of stress. And often it shows up the simple solutions to the things we imagine unbearable

      Albert@Headspace
      http://thoughtsintime.co.za

  • nibanez

    This is a great list. A friend of mine referred me to legal bud from International Oddities. If you smoke cigarettes to take the edge off of stressful events, this product might be safer and healthier for your lifestyle. I tried it once and it definitely helped me to relax. Check them out! http://internationaloddities.com/smokenow.asp?u

  • http://www.warriordevelopment.com Jarrod – Warrior Development

    Don't get stressed in the first place :D

    Taking charge of the mind and releasing the grip of thoughts and emotions on you enables you to live freely.

    • getheadspace

      Point taken, Jarrod. But many of us mortals do slip into stress occassionally. This list is for such times.

      Albert@Headspace
      http://thoughtsintime.co.za

  • http://www.marcandangel.com Marc and Angel Hack Life

    Good read. ;-) I think relaxation is all about personal preference, timing and mood. At some times a short nap might seem like the perfect way to relax, other times a long walk might seem more appealing. It just depends on circumstance.

  • http://www.workhappynow.com Karl Staib

    I apply all of these in my daily routine and I can attest that they all work. My favorite is Yoga which could go under breathing as well because of it's focus on the breath.

    Thanks for the great list and I'll be linking to it in the near future.

  • http://www.mindmapinspiration.co.uk Paul

    I would like to share some FREE Mindmaps for download at http://www.mindmapinspiration.co.uk

    There are many that cover subjects within this post such as Meditation and Repelling Negativity – please feel free to use anything you wish

    Very best wishes

    Paul

  • Pingback: HEADSPACE » Blog Archive » The last word on relaxation()

  • jane

    kick back on the deck with a nice mojito :)

    http://drinkingdecks.com/blog/drinks/coors-ligh

  • http://www.jennystamos.com jstamos

    Thanks so much for including an excerpt from my article about stress. I'm honored, and plan to check out this blog again in the future–I love the premise.

    If anyone would like to contact me or find out more about my work as a freelance writer, researcher and developmental editor, please feel free to check out my website at http://www.jennystamos.com.

    Thanks again for including me!
    Jenny :)

  • getheadspace

    Jenny, you are very welcome. Thanks for the great material that you put out there.

    Albert@Headspace
    http://thoughtsintime.co.za

  • getheadspace

    Jenny, you are very welcome. Thanks for the great material that you put out there.

    Albert@Headspace
    http://thoughtsintime.co.za

  • getheadspace

    Point taken, Jarrod. But many of us mortals do slip into stress occassionally. This list is for such times.

    Albert@Headspace
    http://thoughtsintime.co.za

  • getheadspace

    Yes, Shanel, that is an important addition. Getting in down on paper does seem to reduce the menace of stress. And often it shows up the simple solutions to the things we imagine unbearable

    Albert@Headspace
    http://thoughtsintime.co.za

  • http://www.travesti1.com/ travesti

    hi very nice your site's contents. If this is a nice sharing. Thanks, but for my country because there is no content sites like yours as I would always follow the most liked sites like these and I'm waiting for new issues and explanations.

  • http://www.travesti1.com/ travesti

    hi very nice your site's contents. If this is a nice sharing. Thanks, but for my country because there is no content sites like yours as I would always follow the most liked sites like these and I'm waiting for new issues and explanations.