Getting into motion or getting into a different environment are the two ways to instantly reduce stress. Specifically, you can do this by exercising, having a massage (whether it’s just a quick massage on the head, neck and shoulder or a full body massage) or going into a park or place where it’s less busy and chaotic.
Why meditation and positive thinking don’t work
In most self-help books and articles you’ll read about meditation, yoga, optimism and overcoming fear and anxiety. However, for many of us those things don’t work at all (or they just worked once). Meditation and yoga require us to stay still and make our minds go almost blank. It’s also similar with optimism and positive mental attitude where we try to replace our negative thoughts with positive ones. The approach in both cases is that it’s all in our heads, not out there, which is actually causing the stress.
But for us action-oriented people who got used to solving problems instead of just wishing it away, the stress and problems are real (they’re not just in our heads). Also, the stress often manifests itself through headaches and discomfort in our necks, backs and shoulders. Positive thinking alone won’t get rid of those real pain and discomfort.
What should you do then? Action and a bit of change (in the environment and atmosphere you’re in) are more likely to produce real results. For example, during and after exercise our biochemical makeup actually changes (happy hormones get released) and our heartbeat gets into a healthy rhythm. This also happens when we get into a different environment (a change of scenery) so that we can step back from chaos, stress and busyness.
Another way that works is a good massage. Before and during the massage, you step back from your stressful home or workplace because you’ll be in a different environment. And during and after the massage, your biochemical makeup, heartbeat and blood circulation all change. Then, optimism and positive thinking will follow because of the massage. Because you stepped back and you gave yourself a treat, you gain mental clarity that would help you feel calm and relaxed.
The key here is to step back and do or experience something else. Whether it’s at the end of a stressful workday or a long exhausting week, a bit of change and action (not just positive thinking) can make you feel better instead of enduring the stress and discomfort.