Stress seems to affect most people in one way or another. Stress is not anxiety but it might lead to greater or lesser states of a pathological condition of anxiety which may need treatment. Some levels of stress are necessary for everyday living, but it is when it becomes excessive that it begins to seriously affect our lives, our work and relationships.
How do you reduce stress? Some take a relaxing bath, go swimming, do some gardening, go for a walk, work out in the gym or do yoga. Do anything that helps you restore a sense of perspective and turns mountains back into molehills.
Sometimes, in order to relax a part of the body, it helps to tense it first. You slowly and gently bring just enough tension into your whole body in order to feel it – your face, torso, arms, legs, feet, every part of your body… and then let it go. When we talk about “relaxation”, we mean a conscious letting go of stress and tension in body and mind. That doesn’t mean slumping down in front of the telly or going out for a meal. These may change your pace from working but more often that not, they leave you more tired than before. Real relaxation calms and energises at the same time.
Guided fantasies are a good way to turn off completely and help to gain a different way of looking at life. You might like to record this one, give it some soft, background music and play it back to yourself whenever you have one of those difficult, stressful moments. It’s called…
THE DESERTED BEACH
Make sure you’re sitting in an upright position with both feet on the floor (if you lie down, you may fall asleep), hands resting comfortably on your thighs. Take a deep breath and relax.
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine you are walking alone along a deserted beach. You are very safe and will not be disturbed. Make a clear picture in your mind’s eye. Look around you as you walk. What can you see? Notice the colours. Look out to sea as far as the horizon. Is the sea calm? Is it rough? Are there any boats? Or birds? What kind of day is it? Sunny? Cloudy?
Hear the sound of the waves. Hear the sound of your footsteps in the sand or on the pebbles. What other sounds are you aware of? Can you hear seagulls?
Feel the air against your skin. Breathe it in. How does it smell? How does it taste? Feel the movement of your body as you walk. Feel the beach under your feet.
Go right up to the water’s edge and put your hand in the water. How does that feel? Put your wet hand against your face. Is it cold? Can you smell the sea? Can you taste the salt?
You may feel like taking off your shoes and socks to have a paddle. Or you may feel like taking off the rest of your clothes to have a swim. Or you may feel like sitting for a while and gazing at the sea. Or you may feel like continuing your walk along the beach. Do whatever you feel like doing. You will have half a minute of real time which is all the time you need. And, whatever you do, be very aware of everything that you see and hear and feel. And be glad to have this chance to be alone in such a beautiful place.
And now prepare to leave, knowing you can revisit this place any time you choose. When you’re ready, take a deep breath and, with a sense of gladness, come back to the room.
Well, how was your experience? Did you find it diffcult to follow the instructions? Did you wander off somewhere else? Did you return to your day-to-day problems? Then, don’t despair. Just do it as often as you wish because it becomes easier with practice and you will soon reap the benefits.
Happy English learning!!