Posted on Feb 18th, 2006

An effective way of promoting relaxation and reducing stress, is to regularly “escape” from the pressures in your life. You may have more opportunities to escape than you think.

Think of some daily or weekly event that you find unpleasant, an example may be mowing the lawn, commuting to work, or vacuuming the house. Situations like these usually don’t occupy our mind, so stressful thoughts of tomorrow’s work and the time we are wasting, can creep into our minds. Instead of allowing these circumstances to affect us negatively, use them as an opportunity to take a break and put your stressful day behind you. For some this may be as easy as listening to a recording that is either soothing, or allows you to “rock out” and escape. Some people may like to listen to books or comedy on tape (these are often available at your local library). Whatever you decide to use to help you escape, be prepared: have it with you in the car, for when you get stuck in traffic, go to the library on the weekend so you have a new book on tape to listen to when you mow the lawn. When you perform these activities, remove yourself from the situation and allow yourself totally escape. Recognize these situations as an opportunity to enjoy yourself and relax.

The Zen Buddhist principle of “mindfulness” is nearly the opposite of what is described above, but it provides another effective way of converting negative situations into positive ones. This technique involves keeping the mind completely absorbed by the current activity. Focus on your thoughts, sensations, movements, emotions… Mindfulness takes practice and concentration, but can bring great rewards. When done correctly, this practice can remove us from mundane, repetative, or unpleasant tasks, and transport us to a relaxing, introspective world.

Mark Altman is the webmaster of for sleep tips and free relaxing music, a website containing relaxing music, sleep-aids, stress reducing tools, relaxation advice, and an active discussion.

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