I’ve got a question for you -- do you believe it’s possible to relax even when you’re stressed?
I think there’s a common belief that stress and relaxation are polar opposites.
That you can’t relax at all until you’ve gotten your stress under control.
I’m here to tell you that’s counterintuitive.
Wondering why I say that?
Here’s why -- if you never allow yourself the ability to relieve a little pressure when you’re stressed... that stress is going to mount to unreasonable levels.
Stress doesn’t remove itself, magically.
I wish it did.
But it doesn’t work like that.
Releasing stress is a purposeful choice.
Even when circumstances are out of your control, you can choose how you respond to those circumstances.
Stress manifests itself in two places - your mind and your body.
Which means when you’re experiencing stress, you can choose to relax your mind or body in response to it -- or you can relax both.
Truth bomb: You can relax your mind and your body.
And when I say “relax” I’m not talking about taking a 10 day vacation, sitting by the beach drinking mai tais… although that is nice. For some.
I’m talking about giving yourself a moment of peace.
Like taking a 10 minute “break”.
Or going for a short walk.
Or even using intentional breathing or meditation for 2-5 minutes.
That little bit of peace can usually make all the difference.
And help pick yourself back up where you left off so you can keep on going.
So now, I’m going to share 5 hacks with you so you, too, can have peace instead of panic and stress.
These are tiny choices you can make in those moments of overwhelm.
They’re bound to give you a little bit of space, which will return some much-needed balance to your life.
These are a little unconventional, so stick with me and hear me out.
Stress Relief Hack 1: Eat A Mango
Yep! You heard me. Eat a mango. Take a 5 minute break to peel, slice and eat a delicious mango.
Don’t like mangos? No problem. You could eat a mandarin orange, tangerine or even drink some spearmint tea instead.
These foods -- or drink, in the case of the spearmint tea -- contain a compound called linalool.
Linalool is a chemical with a long history of incredible health benefits.
Some of its benefits include acting as a: antidepressant, anti-anxiety, relaxant, anti-inflammatory and even pain reliever.
Linalool has been studied for centuries and goes way back to the Greeks and Romans, who were among the first to realize how powerful it was.
It’s the same chemical compound found in Lavender. And I think we all know how powerful lavender is in helping to reduce tension and overwhelm.
Hence the “eat a mango” hack.
When you take a few minutes to infuse your nervous system with some linalool, you’ll experience more relaxation and you’ll be able to release some of the stress you’ve been carrying around.
Stress Relief Hack 2: Put Your Head Between Your Knees
Yes! Either sit down and hang your head down between your knees. Or do this while standing and hang your head and arms down toward your toes.
As your blood flow changes, you’ll begin influencing your autonomic nervous system.
This is the part of your nervous system that controls a lot of the unconscious behaviors of your organs -- like your heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, etc.
In other words, the systems that tend to take on the most stress when you’re in a state of overwhelm.
Dropping your head below your knees ultimately has restorative effects on your autonomic nervous system.
It takes just a few minutes to feel that sense of balance start to return.
Stress Relief Hack 3: Put Yourself Under Pressure
But the good kind of pressure, as in acupressure.
Acupressure is a practice where pressure points on your body are activated to release stress.
It’s similar to acupuncture — just no needles.
You don’t have to make an appointment with anyone to do this.
Acupressure is pressure put on specific parts of your body to relieve anxiety.
It stimulates your body’s natural healing processes. You can do this yourself in just a few minutes.
Find the area at the back of your neck where your neck muscles attach to your skull. Press firmly for 15 seconds, then release. You should feel less tension in your neck.
You can always uplevel this hack by making an appointment with an acupressure practitioner. Or, you can grab a massage gun like what I use (pictured above).
Stress Relief Hack 4: Give Yourself Permission To Do Nothing
And I mean nothing.
Don’t even look at your phone.
Allow yourself to stare out a window, or a spot on the wall or floor.
As your gaze relaxes, you’ll feel a release in tension.
You’ll distract your mind and you’ll stop thinking about what’s been causing that overwhelm in your life.
This puts some mental space between your conscious mind and your subconscious worries.
When you allow yourself this time, you’ll often come up with a solution or idea for whatever’s been bothering you.
In the worst case scenario, you’ll simply enjoy the break from thinking.
Sometimes, when you’re in a stressful situation or just feeling overwhelmed with all you have to do, taking a step back is all you need to gain a new perspective.
Stress Relief Hack 5: Laugh
Yep, you heard me! Find something funny and just LAUGH!
Laughing releases endorphins which are a happy hormone.
When you flood your system with endorphins, it gives you a little boost of energy.
The laughter also temporarily removes your focus away from what’s causing your stress, and enables you to get a little break.
What could be more fun than just laughing for a little bit?
I have a few videos bookmarked on my computer that always give me a good laugh, just for times like this.
This checklist also has space for you to analyze what’s working and what isn’t. Because if you’re going to be building habits, you need to create feedback loops, right? This is how you know when you’re making progress or just wasting your time.