How to Relieve Stress: 3 Epic Ways to Relax Body and Mind

By Mona Shah-Joshi | Posted: March 29, 2019

Your body feels achy, you have trouble concentrating at work and you inexplicably snap at your mom when she calls to check in on you.

For the first time in the ten-year history of the annual Survey of Stress in America by the American Psychological Association, there’s a statistically significant increase in stress levels in America. While it’s tempting to call in sick and escape life with a Netflix binge, that’s probably not the ideal solution when you’re paying off bills and feeding a latte habit.

Ayurveda is an ancient system of medicine from India that seeks to holistically treat the body, mind, and spirit. Health, according to Ayurveda, isn’t just the absence of a disease. True health is experienced when a person is physically, mentally, and spiritually in balance. While living a healthy life is a lifestyle investment, sometimes we’d like to see immediate benefits so we know we’re on the right track. Check out these three tips that yield instant results for balancing mind, body and spirit.

Breathe and meditate

Breathing techniques and meditation are the OTP for stress elimination. A few moments of conscious breathing acts as the bridge between the outer world of crazy and the inner world of calm. If you dive straight into meditation without some preparatory breathing techniques, it’s like doggy paddling when you could be effortlessly stylin’ Michael Phelps. You’ll get to meditative calm eventually, but have to swim through chaotic waters to get there.

Controlled breathing not only reduces stress but also serves as a balm for everything from blood pressure to cholesterol. Breathing techniques such as Sudarshan Kriya have been shown to relieve depression, reduce anxiety, boost the immune system, deepen sleep, restore healthier blood pressure levels, improve cholesterol and triglyceride profiles, and increase mental focus.

Ready to get your Om on right now? Sattva is a free meditation app with guided meditations of varying lengths. A tracker awards you trophies as you continue meditating, so you have your own squad cheering you on across each goal line.

Drink water, water, water everywhere

You’ve got the Keurig programmed to start the moment you rub the sleep out of your eyes. Before you caffeinate or eat breakfast, reach first for a glass of water.

Human beings are made up of 50-75% water. “When water is flowing, it stays pure like a river,” describes Medha Garud, former Director of Shankara Ayurveda Spa. “Whereas stagnant water can get contaminated like a pond. So it’s important for us to keep this water flowing within us.”

Drinking a cup of warm water after waking up dissolves toxins, stimulates bowel movements, and kicks in the digestive fire that sends a wake-up call to your metabolism. Drinking water before going to bed helps flush out toxins. Sipping water throughout the day helps you stay alert and energized. According to a 2015 study, women who drank water reported feeling happier, and had lower levels of tension and depression.

Water regulates your body temp, lubricates and cushions joints, protects your spinal cord and helps eliminate toxins. Dehydration is what accounts for your slumped posture, tight muscles and fatigue. University of Connecticut Research indicates that even mild dehydration can cause irritability and lower energy levels. When our energy is depleted, we pile on stress faster than toppings at a fro-yo bar.

Leave room for imperfection

As Elsa swirled frozen fractals into an ice castle, she released her fears and embraced pure freedom, “Let it go! Let it go! That perfect girl is gone!” Releasing the need to control everyone and everything around you frees you.

Do you drive yourself and others nuts because of your constant need for perfection? While it’s admirable that you want things to be perfect, your perfectionism is probably making you irritable and anxious. Perfectionists aren’t perfect people, they’re just experts at fault finding and driving people away. Even the impeccable Queen Bey counsels “perfection is a disease of a nation.”

We forget that it’s our occasional screw-ups that make us human.

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, creator of the Happiness Program, recommends we “Leave some room for imperfection. It’s love for perfection that makes one angry at imperfection. Just like a clean house has a small space for garbage in the bin, keep some space in your mind to accept imperfections.”

Fast is good, but permanent is better, right? With regular practice of breathing and meditation, your meditative practices deepen and you start seeing changes in various aspects of your life. Consciously drinking more water throughout the day yields a more youthful appearance and higher energy levels. Allowing room for imperfection makes you a more understanding and loving human being. Small changes sometimes lead to epic results in health and happiness.

This article was previously published by Fulfillment Daily and is re-posted here with the author’s permission.

Mona Shah Joshi has an insatiable quest for knowledge that guides her as an instructor, writer, and keynote speaker. Since 1996, she has facilitated more than 50,000 hours of programs in mind, body, and wellness across 4 continents for the Art of Living Foundation and the International Association for Human Values.