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How to Relax

by Marge Maghoney

I was at the dentist yesterday and was asked if I grinded my teeth. All the time, I said and inquired why. He said stress just manifests in different ways in different people. Some have headaches, others have chest pains, nausea, skin problems, sleep problems and so on. Well, for me, it's grinding my teeth.

Probably seeing my expression, he immediately added that one's life may not exactly appear chaotic or stressful but we all still have our usual daily concerns that we deal with.

So I originally titled this post "How to Relieve Stress in 2016" but thought I'd avoid the "don't-think-of-a-white-elephant" trap so instead, join me in following these few simple steps on "How to Relax."

1. Make a list. 

Not one long 2-page list. Start by breaking it down into two categories, work and family. From there, you can go ahead and write down everything under each one beginning with the most important.

2. Prioritize. Know your one thing.

From each category on your list, pick that one most important thing and do that. Do it at the beginning of your day while your willpower is high. Focus in getting that one thing squared away right off the bat. And when that's accomplished, pick another one if time permits. Progress is achieved by taking care of the things that matter sequentially not simultaneously. Multitasking is just an opportunity to screw up multiple things at the same time.

3. Take breaks.

Don't overdo it. Take breaks every hour or even every half hour if you're in a high powered zone. Think of your mind and body as a gas tank. It needs to stop and refuel every now and then to be in good working condition. 

4. Spend time outdoors.

Immersing yourself in nature almost immediately brings you to a calm and open state of mind. No matter how chaotic the rest of your life may seem, taking a walk at a quiet trail or by a deserted beach clears your head and allows you to hone in on what really matters.

5. Meditate/pray/quiet time.

Praying has always helped. BIG TIME. I have these mental chats with the Lord and sometimes, usually in the car, it's out loud. The theme is generally of gratitude. I thank Him for every single thing I can think of at that moment and the beautiful future I trust He's got in store for me. It always leaves me in a rejuvenated and positive state of mind.

6. Have fun.

Loosen up. Go out. Play (even Candy Crush). Talk to people. Like really take an interest at getting to know them. What is life without fun and games? We need laughter, smiles and silliness in our lives. Never let go of your inner child. Ever.

7. Know everything's going to be fine. 

Trust that no matter what, everything's going to be alright. Look back ten, five even just a year ago. Overall, isn't your life better now? Things always, always work out. It's a trip. 

Take comfort that we have a certain control in our future. Yes there are other factors but a big chunk of it is basically dependent on the decisions we make today. Decisions are brought about by actions and actions begin with our thoughts. So choose wisely. I keep reminding myself of that whenever I start thinking of that donut.

8. Nurture relationships.

Remember our list? One's for work, the other one's for family. I got this from a book I'm currently reading, The One Thing by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan.

       “Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family,        health, friends, and integrity. And you’re keeping all of them in the air. But one day you                finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The 

       other four balls—family, health, friends, integrity—are made of glass. If you drop one of 

       these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.” 

       ― Gary KellerThe ONE Thing

I think that pretty much sums it up. Life isn't all work, it's just part of it and one we can come back to after we've taken care of the pressing needs of the rest.

9. Take care of your health/body.

This is pretty self explanatory. You can't experience life without a body. And this is your only one. Take care of it. Feed it only with food that truly nourishes it. Keep it lithe and fully functioning by working out and protect it from substances that will eventually destroy it.

10. Create an environment of zen.

How can you keep your focus if you're in the middle of chaos, literally. Productivity can't and won't thrive in mess. I know I can't. Tidy up a bit. Purge things that aren't necessary. Get rid of clutter. Light a candle in your workspace. If you can, take your laptop outdoors, someplace serene. It'll change your whole perspective. 

What helps you relax? I'd love to try it.

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