If you can't handle it, take time off or breathe

Daily News Egypt
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Five ways to relieve stress, freshen the body and mind

CAIRO: When people say they are “under stress or “feeling stressed it can mean anything from over-exhaustion and emotional anguish, to basic bouts with everyday anxiety. The problem is that many people don’t understand the meaning of the term in the correct sense.

Stress is the feeling associated with heavy breathing, mental pressure and over-anxiety resulting from everyday problems. People tend to “feel stressed whenever they face a problem that causes their brains to work overtime, producing unbalanced chemistry in the human body.

Stress can make itself felt in a variety of ways such as lack of sleep, headaches and difficulty in breathing. People feel stress differently and each person attributes it to different reasons. Various techniques are effective in relieving stress.


Most people find it hard to take vacations, mainly because of their work schedules and because of their tight deadlines and heavy obligations. Stressed people find it even more difficult than others to take vacations.

However, vacations are by far the best relief for stress that there is. Taking a vacation the right way can help release a major chunk of stress from a person’s psyche.

In order for the vacation to work, you should plan a trouble-free holiday. This means completely preventing all means of interruption during your time off. Cell phones should be turned off or kept silent and work colleagues/clients should understand that during this period you will be out of reach except for severe emergencies, with a clear definition of the latter.

All concerned parties must understand that this period of time is sacred to the individual and crucial for the successful functioning of anyone s work abilities. The bottom line is to plan it right, do it right, come back a new person, and above all else, stay away from problems.

Exercise and general outdoor activities

Even though both these solutions are different, they are equally hard to commit to. However, a little planning can make it easier to carry out these activities on a regular basis.

With exercise, it is crucial to maintain the boundaries of professional and personal timetables. If you are a person who prefers to exercise before work, schedule an early bedtime and an early rise to make sure to carry out a regular, relaxed exercise program.

If you prefer post working hours exercise, then it is crucial to plan the rest of the day in a fashion that allows time for the exercise and time for finishing other chores without being over stressed. An advisable rule is to always plan a maximum of two small errands per day after your exercise program, so that you will have time to spend relaxing at home with family and loved ones.

When scheduling outdoor activities, you will probably have to slot them in during the weekend. Dedicating one day out of every weekend to engage in activities such as scuba diving, hiking, rock climbing, camping, photography, or any other outdoor activity can be very relieving to the soul.

In the worst-case scenario, start with something close by and less time consuming. Try a walk in a nearby park. Make sure to have a good buffer of time before and after and equip yourself with all possible emergency tools and accessories.

Scheduling a massage or a spa session can also be very refreshing; the invigorating feeling associated with aromatherapy and the muscular relief incurred from the constant massage strokes allows for relief from physical tension.

Scheduling a spa session is fairly easy and isn t time consuming. However, it does need to be planned without any interruption and with enough buffer time so that the tension released doesn’t come back while you rush to get dressed and finish any pending tasks.

Meditation, Yoga and Tai Chi

If after all of your careful planning to commit to any of the above stress relievers, you still find that your schedule has become even more packed and stressful, then try something less time consuming.

Meditation can relieve you of a great deal of stress, and it only takes up about 20 minutes per session and two sessions per day.

The only drawback is that you have to learn to meditate and this can take both time and money. If it is possible to find the time to learn it either through courses or books, it will prove worthwhile since 20 minutes of meditation is said to be equivalent to approximately six to eight hours of sleep.

Yoga, as a complimentary activity to meditation, is another way of stress relief. Yoga can be learned either at classes or through various books available in the market, though the best method is through a trained instructor. Once learned, you can engage in it whenever you need to and it can be very efficient in relieving stress.

Finally, Tai Chi is a martial art that focuses the body’s energy into slow and well measured movements. The series of movements takes up about five to 10 minutes, but accompanied by some relaxing music, can prove to be peace inducing.

Learning Tai Chi is difficult; finding instructors in Egypt isn t an easy task. But they do exist and the classes are not expensive nor are they time consuming.

Sleep, rest and disassociation

If your time doesn’t permit you to learn any of the above or your budget does not allow for the “luxury of learning such activities, or if you just feel that the above isn’t really for you, why not resort to the most basic of stress relieving activities? You should, however, be warned that this next suggestion will require you to focus on doing it right. The choices that are available to you are: sleeping (afternoon nap), listening to music (calm music through headphones), watching documentaries on television, and simply lying down.

All of these require a quiet environment with no interruptions or room for any stress inducers. This sort of a setting can lead you to disassociate with your surrounding, causing a state of tranquility.


If all else fails, there is a technique that is so basic in principle, it is by far the fastest and easiest of stress relievers. Simply, breathing calmly into a paper bag or a small collapsible container can help relieve anxiety.

Counting down from 10 to one while breathing can also relieve anxiety. Just by closing one’s eyes and inhaling slowly through the nose and exhaling through the mouth, while also slowly counting backwards can bring your mental state back to a normal standpoint. If counting backwards from 10 is insufficient, try a larger number. The bigger the number, the more complex it becomes to count backwards, the more disassociated with your stress you become.

Most people feel stress constantly, and most will read this article and say that they have no time to carry out any of the above. Most will read it and claim that it is not realistic, while others will claim that they will try to do the techniques later. The problem is that people don’t realize how stressed they are and the more they build it up, the more the body reaches a maximum limit and breaks down. If you took time out to read the above, then you can take enough time to do the basics.

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