Eat right; exercise; get enough sleep: These are all great tips for entrepreneurs looking to cope with the stresses inherent to their chosen career path. (Heck, I’ve even advocated for these self-care strategies myself.)
But what if you’re practicing these techniques and still struggling with anxiety on a regular basis? Or what if you’re simply not interested in getting more than four hours of sleep a night, but you still want to employ strategies that can help you feel calmer and more clear-headed?
Then it may be time to experiment with some less traditional relaxation techniques. If you’re ready to take your stress reduction to the next level, give any (or all) of these strategies a try.
Don’t let the weird name turn you off. Cupping therapy—which was originally employed by ancient Chinese, Egyptian, and Middle Eastern Cultures—is gaining in popularity in the Western world. (That’s partly thanks to the endorsement of a range of celebrities, from Gwyneth Paltrow to Jennifer Aniston, Lady Gaga, Chris Martin, Brad Pitt, and tennis star Andy Murray.) The practice involves placing cups on the skin to create suction, which is thought to increase circulation and stimulate healing processes. While more research is needed to determine exactly how cupping affects the body, its practitioners swear that the practice promotes mental well-being, relieves stress and anxiety, and decreases pain, tension, and inflammation throughout the body.
2. Laughter Yoga
It may sound hokey, but laughter yoga is taking off for a reason. The practice entails sitting around with a group of people and laughing (even if nothing particularly funny is happening). It’s thought to provide a range of physical and mental health benefits, such as oxygenating the brain, boosting the immune system, strengthening interpersonal skills, reducing stress, and increasing positive feelings overall. Too self-conscious to fake-laugh in front of other people? No problem. Laughing is good for you no matter where or how you do it, so sitting in your office and chuckling at a few Key & Peele videos by yourself will also yield stress relief.
3. Being Near Water
It’s for good reason that water shows up in literature and film as a source of calm, clarity, and depth. More and more research suggests that simply being near water can help us relax by promoting mindfulness, easing anxiety, improving mental clarity, and providing an antidote to overstimulation. Spending time on or near a body of water has also been shown to make people more compassionate and creative. Access these benefits by booking a weekend at the beach, kayaking down the local river, or renting a boat for a day (or several).
4. Oak Tree Meditation
When the stresses of entrepreneurship get too overwhelming, just imagine that you’re a tree. That’s the basic premise behind oak tree meditation, which consists of closing your eyes and visualizing yourself as an oak tree—your feet are roots planted in the earth, your skin is thick, protective bark, and so on. The idea is that picturing yourself as the embodiment of trees’ strength and impassivity can empower you to weather whatever stresses come your way.
5. Smelling an Orange
If you want to relax while expending as little effort as possible, just put your nose near an orange and inhale. Researchers have found that smelling an orange for a few minutes can reduce stress and relieve anxiety. Not a fan of oranges? Simply choose another citrus fruit of your liking—research suggests that most of them have a similar effect.
Like cupping, tapping has been practiced for thousands of years, but it’s only in the past few decades that the practice has started to gain a prominent following in the West. The basic idea it that health issues (from stress to chronic pain) affect the whole body, and therefore a holistic treatment approach is required. That’s where tapping comes in: By tapping certain points on the body, practitioners believe they can harmonize the body’s energy flows and promote healing (In this way, the concept is similar to acupressure or acupuncture). It may sound new-agey, but there’s a growing body of research to back up these claims. Tapping is also well-liked because of how simple it is: Anyone can do it anywhere. The basic practice is to focus on whatever negative emotions are plaguing you while tapping your fingertips 5-7 times on each of the body’s meridian points.
From tree visuals to suction cups to sniffing citrus fruits: When it comes to these unusual relaxation techniques, it helps to keep an open mind. At the very least, don’t knock ‘em ‘til you try ‘em—you just might make your life better in the process.