Someone once told me that according to her a sign of success is "being busy professionally as well as personally". This statement does make sense to me in a way because given that you enjoy your work and the social company that you keep, plenty of involvement in both can be quite fulfilling. But no matter how much you enjoy all that you do, staying very busy comes with a downside.
Even if you perpetually choose activities that you enjoy, you're bound to get stressed if you don't take quiet time out for yourself. Even if you don't feel mentally stressed, over a period of time, the body starts accumulating stress physically. Being by yourself is when you can assimilate all your dissipating energy.
So, a single step stress buster is breathing. You've heard this plenty, I'm sure. Yet, how often do we remember to practice deep, diaphragmatic breathing? Of course, we all breathe, constantly. We wouldn't be alive if we didn't. But this is just a reminder to breathe fully. More often than not we take quick, shallow breaths, and also hold our breath without realising, when we are stressed out. An obvious physiological effect of that shows in the tension that we hold in our muscles. It could be the abdomen, the chest, neck and even our limbs. When you inhale deeply and exhale fully through your nostrils, squeezing your abdomen slightly on a full exhalation, you will feel the tension melting away. On repeated deep breaths you may possibly even realise the amount of tension you were holding on to.
While we can get aware of the tension in our muscles, it's difficult for us to tell on our own what this tension does to our internal organs and the circulatory system. We all know the effects of wearing tight clothes that constrict an easy blood and lymphatic circulation. Can you imagine the effects of holding on to tension internally, where we literally tighten our veins and arteries and the lymphatic and energy channels?
There are many types of pranayam to suit various conditions and body types. But I am talking about simple deep breathing. Deep breathing does not involve much technique or force. Like I mentioned above, just focus on exhaling completely and your inhalation will automatically become fuller. Do this a few times a day to feel rejuvenated, connect with your body, release tension and start realising what holding on to stress feels like. It's important to become aware of stress first before letting go of it.