Is everything as urgent as your stress would imply? -Carrie Latet
In today’s harried society, stress has become an everyday fixture. Our busy schedules, the internet, smart phones and texting have all contributed to our almost total inability to completely unplug from work, the world and our numerous other responsibilities. The result? We are a stressed out nation. While fully disengaging from the constant worry in our lives may prove infeasible, there are ways to seize an opportunity to regroup, rejuvenate and de-stress now.
Stretching increases flexibility and circulation, which can help you feel more relaxed almost instantly. So go ahead and strrrrrrrrrretch. Feel better?
Smiling has been proven to enhance our moods and diminish our feelings of anxiety. Besides, we all look better when we’re not sporting a sour puss! To really look and feel your best, try to find something that truly gets your giggle on.
Taking a quick walk can help raise your endorphin level and eliminate some of that tension, regardless of whether you can squeeze in a full mile or just a fast minute.
Perhaps a full day at the spa just doesn’t mesh with your jammed pack calendar. However, many spas offer mini-treatments that only require a small amount of time while still providing a huge, relaxing impact.
Fortunately, breathing is a requirement that we don’t have to set aside additional free time to achieve! Take a moment, close your eyes and breathe deeply to get rid of some stressful toxins on the exhale.
Find a confidant (or therapist) to help release some of that pent up frustration. You’ll be amazed at how motivated and reinvigorated you’ll feel once you start getting things off your chest.
Listen To Soothing Music
Playing gentle or classical melodies can help set the tone for your entire day. If possible, download some free music applications directly onto your computer so you can continuously stream in the tunes.
Prioritize The Worry
When addressing the issues that have you feeling stressed, ask yourself; “Will this be important to me in a week? A month? A year?” Posing these questions will help prioritize what truly deserves worrisome scrutiny…and what may be a simple overreaction on your part.
Steal Some Me Time
Getting a few “all about me” moments can truly help to regroup and refocus when life becomes a little too tense. For some “me time” tips check out this post!
Tea comes in all sorts of soothing brews and can be enjoyed virtually anywhere. Steep a pot, inhale the relaxing aroma and sip…slowly.
Join A Gym (And Really Go)
Consistently incorporating exercise into your daily routine will help increase cardiovascular fitness and endurance while simultaneously decreasing your anxiety level. Plus, you’ll have an opportunity to meet some new people and socialize.
Find Your Happy Place
Everyone has a place that puts them at peace. When overwhelmed with tension, go there for a little R&R. Physically not practical to get to that special location? Close your eyes and travel there in your mind. Do it….now…
Find A Hobby
Everyone needs a fun activity to provide distraction from the daily grind. If you don’t have a current pastime, start with something simple that doesn’t require a lot of focus.
Sylvia Plath penned; “There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them.” How can you argue with that logic?
Sleep It Off
Even a quick “power nap” can have a huge impact on our focus, energy level and motivation. When life becomes too stressful, steal a few z’s and awaken refreshed and ready to tackle the next item on your to-do list.
Write It Down
Journaling provides a great outlet for releasing stressful events and ordeals in our daily lives. Plus, a journal offers an “in-your-own-words” account of previously tense moments. Reviewing periodically can help you see if you tend to exhibit a pattern of unnecessarily sweating the small stuff.
Do Something Nice…For Yourself
We often take care of others in our lives, but when was the last time you gave yourself a little TLC? Treat yourself to a relaxing beach day, go for a long solo bike ride or simply give yourself permission to curl up on the couch with a good book and you’ll immediately feel the tension diminish.
Sing A Song
Turn on your favorite tune and sing…loudly. Tone deaf or not, you’re guaranteed to feel better.
Bust Out The Two Step
Since the stereo is already on, get dancing. The movement will help release tension and provide some natural energy to face the rest of your day.
Keep It Simple
Do your best to not over orchestrate life events and responsibilities. For example, rather than cooking an elaborate 3 course banquet for a planned dinner party, simplify the menu, serve it family style and have the company and conversation be the focal point of the meal.
Catch Up With Friends
Pick up the phone and make a date with your buddies! Spending a little quality time with those that know and love us most can be an excellent way to alleviate some of the dread we’re often plagued with.
Break It Down
Sometimes tackling huge tasks can completely overwhelm us. Determine if these action items can be simplified into easier to achieve step-by-step bullets.
Identify The Low Hanging Fruit
If you can’t break down the big stuff, scan your list of responsibilities to determine which ones will be the simplest to complete and start there. Getting the easy stuff done will make the overall load lighter and give you a genuine feeling of accomplishment to keep you motivated as you power through the rest of your obligations.
Learn Something New
Sometimes stress can make us feel powerless and useless. Counteract these feelings by learning something (anything) new. Mastering a new concept, hobby, game, etc. will reinforce how smart and innovative you really are. This tip has been extremely powerful for me as I re-enter the world of academia and battle feelings of never knowing enough.
Eliminate Negative/Toxic Influences
Often, we bring enough negativity into our own lives without receiving heaping helpings from those around us. Identify any outside influences (co-workers, frenemies, etc.) that may be adding to your negative and stressful emotional load and eliminate them as much as possible.
Learn The Power Of “No”
Staying positive is a great thing. However, saying “yes” to everything can truly overwhelm us. Saying “no” and setting some boundaries can feel empowering and help keep your calendar free from any additional (and unwanted) responsibilities.
De-clutter/Donate Gently Used Items
Pick one closet in your home to go through and reorganize. Create a throw away pile and a pile of items that can be donated to local charities. The newly cleaned closet coupled with knowing you’ve done a good deed will definitely eliminate some negativity.
Channel Your Inner Guru
Meditation and prayer have long been touted as having healing powers. Find a spiritual practice that works for you and implement it into your life daily to help soothe anxious thoughts. For a great look at how one woman incorporates spiritual practice into her life, check out on of my favorite reads: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Review Your Bucket List
We all have one – that list of things we plan on doing “someday”. Make today that day. Pick one item and coordinate a plan to get it done.
Find a cause or center dear to your heart and donate some of your time. Helping those less fortunate than you is a great thing…and it will also bring some clarity and perspective to your own life.
. . . . .
Living a completely stress free life is practically impossible for most of us. However, with a little practice, patience and a healthy dose of self-forgiving, partially de-stressing our day to day existence is a very attainable goal.
Do you have a hard time simply relaxing? Do you feel like tension and anxiety are normal staples in your emotional portfolio? How do you de-stress when life starts to overwhelm you? Please share in the comments!
P.S. Can you tell this has been a hot-topic for me as I wrestle with insecurities and stress-overload associated with the start of a new academic year and my wedding in 45 days!?
images: pin wheel designs (amy rubin flett)