Proven ways to reduce stress podcast

Fatima Durrani, Staff Writer

Fatima Durrani: Hi everyone my name is Fatima Durrani. I’m a journalist who strongly believes that one with a good mental health has true wealth.

I know that seems a little bit cheesy but it’s true isn’t it? With all the stress going on because of the pandemic and pressures that arise, generally in everyone’s daily lives, it’s really important to take a positive spin on the way we manage stress.

Oftentimes when we’re stressed out, we can’t think about anything but the actual stress that’s occurring in our mind.

By focusing on the stress itself and just the negativity that’s going on in our mind, it can lead us to deal with stress in a negative way. Stress can result in long term, or even chronic pains ranging from mental discomfort to physical discomfort.

I know some of you may be thinking, will this even helped me? Well my answer to that is, what do you have to lose?

Training your body to deal with stress in a positive way, you’re bettering your own mental health. I wanted to remind you all that you’re not alone and that it’s important to find relaxation techniques in times where stress is really abundant and apparent.

I’m going to be discussing a couple of relaxation techniques that have been recommended by psychologists, and have been used by those specializing in stress management.

Hopefully by the end of this recording, you’ll be able to find a method that works best for you, or even inspiration to find one suitable to your unique persona first method I’m going to be discussing is called progressive muscle relaxation or PMR.

PMR involves tensing a specific group of muscles, and then as you breathe in, you hold and then you relax, instantly as you breathe out. PMR aims to release tension from your muscles, which helps you realize that there is tension within your body and how to kind of relieve it.

Practicing this method regularly, you can really hope your sleep patterns, migraines, high blood pressure, and just tension general within your body. It can also help to reduce muscle spasms.

By finding a specific muscle and tensing it up and then releasing it. You’re learning how to relax your mind, body and all the muscles within your body. For example, you can start at the lower body and curl up your toes.

Leave toes curled and hold it for a few seconds, and then you can release your toes, instantly to feel comfort within your feet. PMR really helps to provide relaxation because it helps you learn how to physically relax your muscles, instantly.

Let’s try it together. Start off by finding a comfortable position, probably in your chair, and then breathe in, shrug your shoulders, and leave them tensed up but not to the point where you feel pain or cramping. Hold it for about four to seven seconds.

And then as you breathe out suddenly relax the muscle group within your shoulders. You can continue this method in any areas you like, such as even your hands like if your hands feel tense for example, you can breathe in slowly through the nose, clench your knuckles, hold, and then release instantly.

Repeat this exercise to your preference for about probably a few weeks, and it should really help ease tension within your body.

Next method, is a grounding method, often used to help those who experience panic attacks, called the 54321 method. This technique can really help you either state of mind by exercising the usage of your five senses to learn how to focus on the moment, and practice mindfulness.

The 54321 method involves mentioning five things you can see four things you can touch, three things you can hear two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.

Once again, this method is amazing to help you utilize your five senses to focus on the present moment and it can really help distract your brain from the anxious thoughts that are circling in your mind during a moment of stress, anxiety or panic.

Taking time with each object in relation to your five senses, you’re honestly really helping yourself ground yourself. Let me list some things and maybe you can pause and follow along with this activity as well.

Five things I can see. Well, I can see my laptop, my candle, my hands. Um, I can see a poster in my room and I can see the window in front of me, for things I can touch, would be the surface of my pillow.

The surface of my desk. The roll of tape on my desk. Let’s see what else I can touch my skin like I can feel the texture of my skin. Alright, that’s four things I think. Three things I can hear.

One thing I can hear, would be the cars outside, second thing would be the noise of my family talking downstairs. And the third thing I can hear is my own voice as I talk. It can be any sound at all by the way. Two things I can smell would be the air freshener in my room which smells like coconuts.

And another thing I can smell would be probably my hair, I took a shower and it smells good. One thing I can taste, would be the filtered water in my mouth, because I honestly personally like filtered water.

So yeah, just utilizing these five senses can really help more than you think. It helps your mind think about something else, rather than a thought circling in your mind. Lastly, a really helpful method that could help you relax could be visualization. Think about your happy place, what brings you peace thinking about it?

Envisioning yourself in a comfortable place can really help you feel more peaceful rather than anxious in your heart. For example, let’s say like a beach is your happy place.

This infographic provides five ways that have been proven to relieve stress. As times of stress unroll especially from the pandemic, it's important to find techniques to better mental health.
This infographic provides five ways that have been proven to relieve stress. As times of stress unroll especially from the pandemic, it’s important to find techniques to better mental health. Photo credit: Fatima Durrani

Envision yourself like hearing waves crash off onto the shore of a beach with the scent of coconuts. If that calms you down, maybe try lighting a candle that smells like coconuts or just find a quiet place where you can rest your eyes to really get into a detailed visualization of what calms you down.

An example of symbolization that’s helped many people would be the thought of a river flowing, next to a tree. And on that tree is just a bunch of apples. Those apples symbolize thoughts. Now, as you close your eyes, take a deep breath in and imagine a pleasant breeze gently blowing down the apples, as they fall into the flowing river.

One by one, each of the thoughts and worries and up flowing away into the river. This visualization is incredible because it has so many benefits. It really helps you relax and imagine moments that bring you peace, rather than panicking.

Whenever you’re visualizing, you are in control. And I think that’s the biggest thing about stress that’s hard to understand-that in reality you really are in control of many things. Oftentimes when we’re stressed out, we feel like we lose control of everything, and that our, our, sorry that our emotions are just taking over, why it’s really important to pause and just practice mindfulness.

I wanted to conclude by saying, breathing is also one of the most powerful methods to helping you calm down. When you feel really stressed out.

The four, seven, eight breathing technique can really help you relax when you’re feeling stressed out, and many people actually use this method to help them fall asleep at night.

So if you suffer from insomnia, this can probably be a huge help for you, because it helps you calm your breathing levels down. First, find somewhere comfortable to sit, or you can even lay down just do whatever feels comfortable and close your eyes.

Breathe in through your nose to count a four, then hold your breath to the count of seven. Lastly, exhale through your mouth to the count of eight. Whenever you’re practicing a breathing technique, I like to think about the analogy that says, Even as if you’re smelling a flower, and breathe out as if you’re blowing a candle out.

This can really help you visualize an action that you’re doing, which will really help your breathing become better. Honestly, YouTube has incredible guided videos on how to practice all these relaxation techniques.

These methods are just a few of the many that can help you change your state of mind from feeling that heat in your head to some comfort and coolness. I want you to remember that you’re not alone and that stress can play a huge factor in making you feel like there’s this huge weight on your shoulders.

You shouldn’t hesitate to reach out if you need help, because honestly, I think that therapy can go a really long way in helping people. Methods of how to manage stress are small but can go a very long way in helping you feel better.

And I wanted to thank you for taking the time to listen to these methods on how to reduce stress. I hope you have a great day and take care!