Stress is something no one wants, but inevitably creeps its way into our lives. It seems that wherever you go and whoever you speak to, everybody’s got some form of stress in their lives.
Our constant exposure to stress has really taken the spotlight as a modern-day health issue. As it turns out, chronic levels of stress are pretty bad for our health!
Fortunately, stress is something that can not only be managed, but eliminated from our lives! Ok, there might always be a little stress in our lives no matter what we do, but we can at least minimize it to a point where it is not too concerning on our health!
A few minutes of practice per day can help ease anxiety. “Research suggests that daily meditation may alter the brain’s neural pathways, making you more resilient to stress,” says psychologist Robbie Maller Hartman, PhD, a Chicago health and wellness coach.
It’s simple. Sit up straight with both feet on the floor. Close your eyes. Focus your attention on reciting — out loud or silently — a positive mantra such as “I feel at peace” or “I love myself.” Place one hand on your belly to sync the mantra with your breaths. Let any distracting thoughts float by like clouds.
2. Be Present
“Take 5 minutes and focus on only one behavior with awareness,” Tutin says. Notice how the air feels on your face when you’re walking and how your feet feel hitting the ground. Enjoy the texture and taste of each bite of food.
When you spend time in the moment and focus on your senses, you should feel less tense.
- Take a coffee or tea break without distractions. That means no emails, no tablets, no smart phones, no tv……
- SLOW DOWN! Take your time to do something you usually breeze through. Maybe wash your hair for a minute longer, brush your hair a few extra times…
- Use essential oils and candles to help relax your mind and turn off life!
- Use music to calm yourself down. Not necessarily your favorite songs, but peaceful sounds like the ocean.
3. Get Out of Bed Ten Minutes Early
An easy way to get started is to set your alarm clock ten minutes earlier than usual and make it your first priority for the day. This immediately puts your body and mind into ‘calm setting’. It might truly be the most important ten minutes you spend all day. We know that sleep might be your stress reliever, but getting up a little earlier will give you the few extra minutes you need to help calm your mind before the day starts.
Allowing yourself to get ready at your own pace and add in some of the previous steps into your routine can help clear your mind from the day before and give you that sense of clarity you need.
Take a 5-minute break and focus on your breathing. Sit up straight, eyes closed, with a hand on your belly. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and work its way to the top of your head. Reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth.
“Deep breathing counters the effects of stress by slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure,” psychologist Judith Tutin, PhD, says. She’s a certified life coach in Rome, GA.
The old adage, ‘laughter is the best medicine’ has more truth to it than you know! A good chuckle releases feel-good hormones, improves immunity and releases tension.
A good belly laugh doesn’t just lighten the load mentally. It lowers cortisol, your body’s stress hormone, and boosts brain chemicals called endorphins, which help your mood. Lighten up by tuning in to your favorite sitcom or video, reading the comics, or chatting with someone who makes you smile.
6. Exercise High
You don’t have to run in order to get a runner’s high. All forms of exercise, including yoga and walking, can ease depression and anxiety by helping the brain release feel-good chemicals and by giving your body a chance to practice dealing with stress. You can go for a quick walk around the block, take the stairs up and down a few flights, or do some stretching exercises like head rolls and shoulder shrugs.
7. Do an Act of Kindness For Somebody Else
Keep a gratitude journal or several (one by your bed, one in your purse, and one at work) to help you remember all the things that are good in your life.
“Being grateful for your blessings cancels out negative thoughts and worries,” says Joni Emmerling, a wellness coach in Greenville, NC.
Use these journals to savor good experiences like a child’s smile, a sunshine-filled day, and good health. Don’t forget to celebrate accomplishments like mastering a new task at work or a new hobby.
8. Get A Hobby
Keeping your hands busy settles your mind. Just ask any knitter. Summertime activities that require repetitive motion, such as barbecuing (place burger on grill, flip, serve, repeat) or gardening (dig, plant, water, repeat), can lower blood pressure and heart rate.
“Repetitive motion works like a meditation mantra: It shuts down the body’s fight-or-flight response,” Reiner says.
You zero in on the task in front of you, taking your mind off looming deadlines and other upcoming events. For optimal chill-out effect, keep your sessions brief; Reiner advises 20-minute spurts. “The mind-soothing benefits of repetition dwindle the longer you participate in the activity,” he says.
In some cases, inhaling certain scents has been shown to have immediate stress relief effects by raising mood, reducing anxiety and aiding focus and concentration. Experts say it’s because the smells can stimulate the limbic system, which in turn releases chemicals that affect the brain, promoting feelings of relaxation, calmness, love and excitement. Popular oils for stress relief and mental fatigue include lavender, cypress and rosemary.
10. Chill Out!
In the same way a pre-bedtime ritual puts you in the mood for sleep, a pre-downtime routine helps you get in the mood for relaxation.
As soon as you arrive home, shed whatever reminds you of work: stash your bag out of sight and kick off your heels. “Changing your outfit can change your mindset instantly,” Muller says.
Next, do something that offers a change of pace, recommends Susan J. Nathan, Ph. D., a health psychologist in Laguna Hills, California. “If you’re a desk drone, head outside for a run or a swim; if you’re on your feet all day, ease into a warm bath. Soon you’ll feel yourself mentally drifting away from what stresses you out.”
When you start feeling stressed, spend a few minutes looking through your notes to remind yourself what really matters.