Today’s Solutions: June 08, 2023

For many people, it’s hard to imagine a time when work fits into a finite timeframe: same start time each day and when it’s over, it’s actually over. That’s a problem. We need that moment at the end of the day where we can stop thinking about what needs to be done. It’s up to you to determine what brings you a sense of calm, but while we’re at it, here are some relaxing activities you can do after work to give you a feeling of ease.

Soak, float, or swim: The body responds to water immersion by releasing stress and tension. Warm water, in particular, relaxes contracted muscles and keeps them loose. Floating or swimming in baths, pools, or other bodies of tranquil water can transition brainwaves from active to theta, a lower-frequency state in which the senses are withdrawn from the external world and moved into the realm you experience as you wake or drift off to sleep.

Listen to music and calming sounds: Music connects with the automatic nervous system—brain function, blood pressure, and heartbeat—and the limbic system, where your feelings and emotions live. If you feel stressed, your nervous system releases stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Listening to music can switch the stress response to “off” and help your mind and emotions recover from the stress of the day faster than they would without music. In other words, listening to music can have positive effects on your mood and acts as a form of relaxation.

Read: Reading has been shown to create an inner calm by putting our minds into a trance-like state, slowing down the heart rate, and relaxing the muscles. One study showed that reading for even six minutes a day reduced stress by 68 percent.

Journal: Rumination or obsessive thinking, especially about anything that’s perceived to be negative, is associated with anxiety and depression. Taking your thoughts and feelings out of your head and body and putting them onto a screen or a piece of paper can help stop the swirling cycle. 

Try a walking meditation:  Walking meditation is a moving meditation from the Buddhist tradition that calls for keeping your eyes open and using the experience of walking as the focal point. Unlike some other forms of mindfulness and meditation, where you focus on the breath, mindful walking meditation encourages breathing without effort.

Laugh until your belly aches: Laughter decreases serum levels of cortisol, one of the body’s main stress hormones. Additionally, laughter releases endorphins, which are the chemicals produced by the nervous system to cope with pain or stress. How do you arrive at the kind of laughter that makes your belly ache, eyes water, and face hurt? That’s up to you to decide.

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