We know stress as the enemy. Not only does it feel terrible, but it is also associated with a lot of negative health implications (both short-term and long-term). Nevertheless, although it is an uncomfortable experience, it serves an important biological purpose. Stress presents itself when a challenge has been posed, and it helps to rise us to the occasion and harness our ability to take on the stressor head-on. So although it can be a pain the in butt in many ways, the experience of stress is probably not going away any time soon. So then what do we do? We learn how to cope with the stress we experience in healthy ways.
Here are 10 tips that have been helpful to me in minimizing my experience of stress and transitioning out of it:
- Take 5 Minutes to Stretch—The experience of stress causes tension to build up in our bodies. When our bodies are rigid and tense, it is hard to feel relaxed. Many people have come to believe that the mind and body are connected, and that there is communication that occurs between the two. I suggest stretching in a dark place, where you are less distracted by your surroundings and are able to really tune into your body, stretch your full range of motion, and center yourself. You would be amazed just how stress-relieving the act of stretching can be!
- Use Essential Oils—Our sense of scent is powerful, and there are some natural scents that are believed to be more relaxing, soothing, and stress-relieving than others. If you tend to feel stressed out often, I would highly suggesting investing in one or two essential oils/sprays. I recently purchased an inexpensive lavender sage pillow mist, and I am happy to report that the scent is not only relaxing and enjoyable, but also seems to help me sleep at night. Another calming scent is eucalyptus.
- Try New Workouts—The key word here is “new”. As you probably know, working out in and of itself is already a great stress-reliever. But oftentimes we get so used to our typical routine, that it becomes mindless. We go to the gym, put our headphones in, and go through our series of machines, all while letting our mind wander. Trying a new workout presents a new challenge, engages our mind, encourages focus and present moment awareness, and disallows us from ruminating on the issues from our day. Immersing yourself completely in a new workout separates you from the distraction of your phone and the outside, stressful world. Go hiking, try studio barre, engage in a pilates class, or go swimming. Literally anything you can think of!
- Take a Bubble Bath—Honestly, bubble baths are so underrated. They are a fantastic way to disengage from the world, and tune into yourself. Pick out a yummy smelling bubble solution, pour a ton in, and just soak away all of your troubles. Perhaps even turn on some rainy-day tunes, jazz, or classical music. Taking 20-30 minutes for this “you-time” will make all of the difference.
- Get Lost in a Good Book—Oftentimes, reading can take you away. Immerse yourself in a new fictional world, or take the time to learn a new subject. When you spend 20+ minutes of your day to make a dent in a book you enjoy, you feel a sense of accomplishment for your self-motivation and follow through.
- Take Yourself on a Date— Have you been wanting to try that new restaurant down the street? Or that new dessert place? Then go! Treat yourself to an indulgent meal…and heck, even “cheat” a little! Get comfortable doing things by yourself, and you’ll feel good about your new-found independence.
- Write it Out—If you have something that you just can’t get off your mind, write about it. Get it all down on paper. Do a stream of consciousness activity. Sometimes just the act of writing can help us to make sense of something that’s complicated, or serve as a sense of catharsis. No one has to ever see what you write, and in fact, you can even toss your notes when you’re done!
- Organize and Plan—If you’re feeling stressed out by all of your responsibilities or upcoming deadlines, then take some time to plan and get organized. Purchase a planner, or make notes in a calendar or phone. These days, it’s much too hard to try to remember everything in our heads. So simply relieve yourself of that obstacle. When you start to see all of your plans on paper, and allocate your time and efforts accordingly, it all starts to feel doable. Be in control of your plans, and stop letting your plans control you. There are 24 hours in a day, and plenty of time to get everything done. It’s all about being efficient with your time, and responsible in your planning.
- Get Enough Sleep—I can’t stress this one enough. If you’re not getting at least 7 hours a night, then you’re doing yourself a disservice. Sleep is crucial, because it helps your body restore and renew itself from the wear and tear of the day. Sleep replenishes your mind. If you’re overtired or sleep deprived you are just adding onto your stress load and putting your health and body at risk of illness. Do yourself a favor and make a personal pact to go to bed by a certain hour every night. Whether it’s 10pm or midnight, stick to it!
- Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself—Last but not least, be gentle with yourself. Make an effort to abstain from using negative self-talk. Don’t be angry at yourself for being so stressed. That causes you to feel EVEN MORE stressed. That’s almost the same as trying hard to fall asleep before a certain time…you end up being unable to fall asleep. Be self-encouraging and positive. Give yourself a break. You’re only human, and you’re not perfect. Stress is a normal part of life, and it’s more than likely temporary.
Well, that’s it for this post! I hope you find it to be helpful. Feel free to share any helpful tips you have for reducing the impact of stress! Happy almost September!