WHILE getting a spa treatment or enjoying a weekend getaway are great ways to relax, not everyone can afford to.
However, if you are the average Jamaican woman who gets a headache daily while trying to meet the demands of children, your spouse and work, relaxation does not have to elude you.
"Almost everyone complains about stress and blames it for all the maladies in the world -- from headaches to cancer," said family physician Dr Jacqueline Campbell. "Women are socialised to be the caretakers. Many women have a career in addition to traditional household responsibilities. We are often at risk of letting other people's needs determine our limits, while our own needs are ignored. We are more likely to experience physical symptoms of stress than men and often cope with stress in different ways than men."
But by just being a bit more creative, developing better time management skills and summoning some will power, having stressful days could easily become a thing of the past at best or at the very least, become an infrequent visitor.
While going on a shopping spree and the like are good ways to relax, minimising stress doesn't have to be costly if you don't want it to be. Check below for some inexpensive stress busters that you can incorporate into your day-to-day life, so you can stabilise your blood pressure levels.
1. Prioritise your day.
Making a to-do list is a great way to organise anxious thoughts that are weighing on your mind and can be extremely useful when you have a lot of things to get done in the day. A to-do list helps to make you seem more in control as you are given the opportunity to put your work into context and get a head start on negotiating your deadlines.
2. Tune into your spiritual side.
When things become very unbearable for you at home or work, tune into a higher power for strength. Knowing that there is a supreme being in control of everything also helps you to remain optimistic in spite of the chaos. Stress is usually brought on by over-thinking and so prayer is a great stress reliever as it gets you to take the focus from yourself.
3. Just say no.
Finding time for rest and relaxation means saying no sometimes, even to the people you love. Instead of instantly committing to a project, ask for a rain check and take some time to think it over. If you can genuinely assist, do so, but if you feel you just can't manage, don't try to score points by saying yes. "Remember you can't be all things to all people all the time. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Avoid taking on too many projects. No is not a bad word," said Campbell.
4. Nurture your green thumbs.
Seeing the beauty in nature is a great stress buster. Tending to your garden, for example, or planting trees help you to make a significant contribution not only to the present, but also to the future as you are leaving a legacy for generations to come. For some, gardening provides a sense of peace like none other.
"Get outdoors for a brief break; this can be rejuvenating," Campbell noted.
5. Transform your room into a holiday retreat.
Who says you have to go to a five star hotel to relax? Create your own weekend oasis by transforming your bedroom into a sanctuary where you can hang out when the outside world starts putting a strain on your body. Outfit your room and bathroom with scented candles and your bed with fresh linens and clear away all the clutter. Make a bubble bath, sprinkle with rose petals and relax as you sip on a glass of wine after a long day or on the weekend when you are off from work.
6. Try sound therapy.
You might not be a fan of classical music, but there must be a genre of music that works for you. When all the chaos is happening around you, whether at school or at work, just plug in some earplugs and drown everything out. With the increasing accessibility to iPods, MP3 players and other such devices, sound therapy does not necessarily have to be out of your reach.
7. Get your power nap.
It might not be possible for you to get eight hours of sleep every night like the doctor prescribes. But on weekends for example, you can shut out everything and catch up on the sleep you missed during the week. Sleeping gives you a reprieve from thinking about all the things you need to do and allows the body to repair itself properly.
8. Get that body pumping.
Just 10 minutes of physical activity can go a far way in improving your mood and increases feelings of well-being. Exercise helps to release the hormone endorphins, which will help to keep you a little less stressed and more happy throughout the day. Physical activities also improve circulation, oxygenates cells, stimulates lymphatic movement and helps to rid the body of toxins.
9. Get in the mood for love.
The physical intimacy during lovemaking releases endorphins and helps you to feel positive about yourself. Intimate acts like, cuddling, kissing and holding hands with your partner reduces anxiety levels as it puts one in a feel-good mode.
10. Dust off your cookbook.
Cooking can be very therapeutic if you are the type who doesn't mind being in the kitchen. It helps to calm frazzled nerves and allows you to express your creative side. While stress can numb your senses, cooking helps to activate them all by appealing to your sense of smell, taste, sight, touch and even your sense of hearing brought on by clamouring pots and sizzling sounds.