It may begin with an eyestrain-related headache brought on by hours staring at a computer screen. Or you might experience pain after spending an hour or more with a telephone receiver cradled in your neck. After nearly eight hours standing up, your feet might be throbbing. Your pains, however, appear to be exacerbated by stress.
Stress can manifest itself in a number of physical ways. Headaches, earaches, abdominal pain, a tingling in our arms and legs, and nausea can all be signs of stress. In other words, the pressures that we are under can make us physically ill. As a result, it’s not surprising that we would seek physical relief from stress.
One of the best ways to deal with stress is to indulge your senses. Our senses are like our personal radar detectors, letting us know when we are nearing something that is inherently good. Therefore, it is important that we surround ourselves with things that will appeal to our senses.
First, indulge your eyes. This can be done in any number of ways. For instance, you might make sure that you arise early enough to see the sun rise on a summer day. The joy and peace you feel gazing at the magnificent colors can greatly reduce the amount of stress you feel during the course of your day. You might also watch a videotape that features an excursion to some exotic locale. Drinking in the palm trees and the ocean waves can calm your nerves considerably. You might also consider a trip to your local zoo. There, you can witness first-hand the magnificence of various animal species, from the striped zebras to the dotted leopards.
Next, consider making a “sound escape.” Retreat to your backyard, sit in the grass, close your eyes, and listen. It’s best to do this early in the morning or late at night, when there is not a great deal of activity around. You may hear the songs of robins…the hum of the cicadas…or the purr of a kitten. Such nature sounds are incredibly soothing and can provide you with a great escape from your normal routine. You might even consider keeping a CD in your home of nature sounds that you can play when you feel as if you’re at the breaking point.
Aromatherapy is a favorite relaxation technique nowadays. This involves treating your nose to exquisite scents. Scented candles, incense, or scented oils can help to “calm down” your living space, creating a soothing atmosphere. Some plug-in air fresheners can also be quite effective in re-awakening your sense of smell. Or you might consider cooking with ingredients that have incredible scents and allowing the aroma to overpower your kitchen. There is nothing quite so comforting as the smell of fresh bread baking or tomato-basil sauce simmering on the stove.
When trying to de-stress, don’t forget to indulge your sense of taste. While you won’t want to eat so much that you become overweight, enjoying a few taste sensations can be good for both stomach and soul. Consider adding some fresh mint to your iced tea, or a lime wedge to your cola drink. A sliver of chocolate or a taste of vanilla has also been known to help soothe frayed nerves. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different tastes until you settle upon those that are true stress-relievers.
Many people combat stress by engaging their sense of touch. It is no surprise that mothers-to-be often take up knitting—the sensation of tugging at the yarn can be quite relaxing at a stressful time. You might also consider taking up crocheting, needlepoint, or pottery-making. Such activities have the added bonus of allowing you to show off your artistic flair. And you can fill your home with the beautiful art objects you are able to create. You’ll feel a sense of pride that will lift your spirits—and will make you better able to deal with stressful situations.
Each day, stress tries our senses. It can blur our vision, disrupt our hearing, and dull our sense of taste. The obvious antidote to this is to introduce things into our lives that engage our senses in a positive way, that brighten our day. Such things can seem minor, but they can make a huge difference in how we are able to handle stress.