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We Support Your Ambition: Fun ways to manage stress

With April being Stress Awareness Month, the internet is aflutter with articles, posts and memes about the best ways to relax and relieve stress. So much so that people have started to get super creative with the things you could try to de-stress.

We have picked a handful of fun relaxation techniques for those of you who want to chill out but maintain a bit of character in how you do it.

Take a bath in anything but water

A nice long soak in the tub has been a steadfast go-to for unwinding and detaching from the stresses of the world pretty much since the introduction of indoor plumbing (before that bathing was a complete nuisance; boiling buckets of water over an open fire and tipping them over yourself while hunkered in what can only be described as a large tin bucket is hardly relaxing). It now seems, though, that the in thing to do is to fill your bathtub with almost anything but water. Some of the best ones we’ve found are peppermint tea, milk (just like Cleopatra allegedly did, though she used the milk of donkeys), red wine or beer. There are quite a few alcohol ones, actually. Strange that.

Get laughing

One of the best ways to relieve pent up stress is to laugh it out. Laughing also has a ton of other positive effects on your body, including boosting your immune system, relaxing muscles, lowering your blood pressure and it can even help with weight loss. If you live close to a town or city, chances are there’s live comedy near you. Theatres and bigger venues will host the famous names if you want to treat yourself, but you’re just as likely to get great belly laughs at your local open mic night. If you would rather enjoy stand-up comedy from the comfort of your own home, you can subscribe to Next Up… and enjoy live streamed shows or watch on-demand comedy specials whenever you fancy.

Unleash the power of music

Any music lover will be aware of the impact a great tune can have on their mood. Although it’s generally thought that a slower tempo can quiet your mind and allow you to relax, this is completely subjective. A 2021 study found that adults who listened to music had significantly “reduced cortisol (your main stress hormone) levels” regardless of the music type. So whether you want to dance around your bedroom to the latest Disney soundtrack, Shake it Off with Taylor Swift or mosh to Metallica, find the music that makes you feel alive and crush that cortisol.

Be a tree

Back during the hippy revolution of communes and free love, the more naturalistic took to literally hugging trees – hence the term "tree-huggers". It was supposed to make you one with nature. Now, as axmix of meditation and a deep-rooted inclination towards those classic hippy ways, some people are meditating and visualising that they are the tree. Want to give it a try? Stand barefoot on the floor, preferably on grass and, visualise your bare toes elongating like roots seeping through the ground. Reach your arms out above you, stretching towards the sky to become branches. You get the idea. You could try hugging a tree instead if you like, but that’s just so 1967.

Give something a cuddle

We all love a good cuddle from time to time. The difficulty with cuddles is that you generally need another person both physically and emotionally close enough to be there for you to engage with. Well not necessarily: Meet Hugvie, the oddly shaped snuggle pillow with a heartbeat. Yes, that’s right. It has a "rhythmic vibrator" inside it to simulate a heartbeat. Other features include a pocket on its head to pop your phone in, so you can chat to people while snuggling, and a range of "soothing" colours. Apparently, Hugvie "effectively conveys a sense of human presence". Or you could get a teddy bear.

Play dead for a bit

There’s a yoga pose often used at the end of a session where you pretend to be dead. It’s called Shavasana – the corpse pose – and basically just entails lying flat on your back. You let your entire body sink into the floor, relaxing every muscle so you’re not supporting yourself whatsoever. That’s it. The epitome of doing nothing, except breathing of course. It’s actually surprisingly tricky to do entirely because we’re so used to always using some of our muscles, even if it’s just the little ones that move our eyes around.

Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR)

Since computer scientist Jennifer Allen coined the phrase ‘ASMR’ in 2010, it’s gone from a niche trend to one of the most Googled terms in the world. ASMR is the use of sound to calm, relax and provide what many call “brain tingles”. Some of the most popular sounds are crinkling paper, folding towels, turning pages, tapping, whispering and typing. Still a sceptic? If you’ve ever sat and enjoyed the sound of the waves lapping at a beach or got tingles from classical music, this is along the same lines.

Although ASMR doesn’t appear to work on everyone, with choices from Pokémon’s Squirtle enjoying a day at the beach to individuals such as Gentle Whispering ASMR or ASMR Zeitgeist on YouTube, there are themes out there for everyone.

While some of these relaxation techniques might seem a bit quirky, to say the least, they demonstrate that for each and every one of us there are different things that can be the cause of and relief from stress. The best thing any of us can do is to try out what we think sounds interesting and keep experimenting until we find something that works for us.

 

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