As we all know, stress can have a very detrimental impact on our health, our work performance, our relationships, and our confidence. Many people are looking to add relaxation and stress reduction into their lives, but have a hard time finding the right practice or making it stick. Changing your routine and doing something new is always a challenge, at least at first. Here are some tips so you can see quick success, feel relaxed, and stay motivated:
1. Set a reasonable goal– Have an idea of what you are shooting for. What are you planning on doing and how often? As you answer these questions, make sure to keep things reasonable, especially if you are going to start doing something new. For example, start with trying for once or twice a week, instead of every day; Five to ten minutes instead of 15 or 20.
Here’s an example of a reasonable goal: I’ll do my mindful breathing exercises twice a week for 10 minutes.
2. Get into a routine– A barrier to regular relaxation practice is that we get busy, we forget, or just don’t feel like doing it. If you get into a routine, then your practice will become a built in part of your day or your week. Put it in your calendar, write a post it note, etc. to help you remember.
For example: I’ll do my mindful breathing exercises twice a week, once on Friday evening when I’m winding down from my work week, and once Sunday night when I’m starting to worry about this week’s projects.
3. Find a partner- We are more likely to follow through with goals if we have vocalized them to someone else, and even more so if they agree to join us. Ask your significant other, a colleague or friend to join you in making a stress reduction goal, or at least express your intention out loud to someone who can help you stay motivated and accountable.
4. Identify roadblocks and look for solutions- If you are not seeing success with your goal, take the time to re-evaluate instead of giving up or getting down on yourself. Maybe your goal was too lofty, or you need to readjust your routine. Maybe your relaxation partner isn’t the right person, or if your doing this alone, think about asking someone to join you. Or maybe you haven’t found the right relaxation/stress reduction activity. This can also be a very helpful time to consult with a professional, like a psychotherapist or life coach. Often, in just a few sessions, you’ll be able to identify what has been holding you back, what helps motivate you, and have ideas for how to move forward. You’ll also be able to learn new tools that you may not have thought of or tried before.
5. Reward yourself- Ironically, sometimes relaxation is hard work! Give yourself a reward for your effort. This will help give you something to look forward to and will help you stay motivated.
For example: I’ll treat myself to a coffee each Monday after I’ve followed through with my goal to do the two mindful breathing exercises.
If you have questions or comments, or if you want help getting started or sticking to your relaxation and stress reduction routine, don’t hesitate to contact me. Thanks for your time!
Joanne Garlich, ms lpcc
Minneapolis Psychotherapy + Wellness Building