Stress can creep up on us when we least expect it.
Do you ever think about the next 20 things you have to do?
One second you’re enjoying a Starbucks latte, and the next you’re thinking about how you need to clean your house, pack for a trip, visit the doctor, go grocery shopping. Those are just the basic things.
What about when life throws you a curve ball? Maybe someone in your family has passed, and you’re helping with the funeral arrangements. Or maybe it’s an exciting time, and you’re planning for the birth of a baby. Even life’s joyful seasons can be a little overwhelming.
So how do we reduce this stress and anxiety?
1. Breathe. Just breathe.
This is a no-brainer, but still, sometimes we need to be reminded to take a few deep breaths. If you have an Apple Watch, the Breathe app comes already installed. It’s a great little app that reminds you every few hours to take a few deep breaths. If you don’t have an Apple Watch, no worries. You can try it old-school.
Try the following exercise:
Belly Breathing – You can do this either sitting or lying down. I recommend lying down. It really makes a difference! Place your hand on your belly, close your eyes, inhale through your nose for 3 beats, feel your belly expand, hold, then exhale through your mouth and feel your belly contract. Clear your mind, focus on your breathing, and let your anxiety melt away. Repeat 3-4 times, or as many as needed.
Although I haven’t practiced regularly lately, I’m a big advocate of yoga. You don’t have to spend a whole bunch of money to take yoga classes. I started out watching Youtube videos and downloading yoga apps on my phone. You might feel a little awkward and clumsy at first, but eventually, you’ll feel more balanced and centered as you practice more.
Yoga involves a lot of breathing. If you find yourself doing a pose and holding your breath, you’re doing it wrong. Relax and focus on your breathing. Just 15 minutes of yoga can drastically improve your mindset.
What’s great about yoga is that you can be in any physical shape. You don’t have to be stick thin to do it. Just be yourself and keep an open mind.
3. Give yourself a Spa Night
Ladies, I know you have that facial mask you bought months ago but have yet to use. Scrounge through your bathroom drawer and put that thing on! You’ll feel refreshed, I promise, and you might get a little self-esteem boost!
You can also give yourself a mani and pedi, and don’t skimp on the details. Soak your nails in warm water, and don’t forget putting on some lotion to keep your hands and feet moisturized and soft. I don’t need to tell you that getting a real mani and pedi at a nail salon can do wonders. But, hey, if you’re low on funds, there’s no shame in a little DIY. Before you know it, you’ll have forgotten what you were worried about a half hour ago.
4. Find a Body of Water
Am I the only one who loves listening to the tide of the ocean? It’s so soothing, I could fall asleep to it. Studies show that salt water is actually helpful in fighting depression!
How interesting that nature can provide the best medicine sometimes.
if you don’t live near the ocean, find a fountain and listen to the peaceful sounds of the water trickling down. I actually have a little desk fountain, and I haven’t turned it on in years, but I remember I used to turn it on all the time, and it was so relaxing. I should dig that thing out of my closet and put it to use.
For me, bodies of water, especially the ocean, remind me of how small I am in the world. My problems seem insignificant. Sometimes we need a reminder.
5. Write in your Diary/Journal
I have so many journals, it’s ridiculous. Writing has always been a way to release my feelings instead of bottling them up inside. As an introvert, it took me a while to figure out healthy ways to express my emotions as a teenager. Naturally, creative writing and journaling drew me in.
If you’d like to keep a diary but have always had trouble, don’t put pressure on yourself to write in it each day. Write down what your feelings, especially those that worry you. Sometimes it takes writing things down to come up with a solution. Oftentimes, I’ll write down my frustrations, and then by the end of it, I will have figured out a clear answer or game plan.
A little walk or jog outdoors can make you feel refreshed and optimistic about life in general. I used to only walk in parks, but then I got out of my comfort zone and started walking around my neighborhood. I got to see some friendly faces (and some adorable dogs) and it made me appreciate the beautiful dogwood tree blossoms that line the main road.
I don’t need to tell you that exercise is a big stress-reliever. Not to mention you’ll physically feel better.
7. Drink Hot Tea
I absolutely love green tea. Warming up a cup is a quick and easy way to reduce stress. Different types of teas do different things. To reduce anxiety, I recommend green tea, chamomile, and peppermint. But any hot tea works!
Why hot tea? Brewed tea contains less sugar, unlike bottled tea. Tea also has many antioxidants, which can help fight off disease like different kinds of cancer. Some teas like green tea, black tea, and oolong tea contain caffeine, so you may not want to drink them before bed. But chamomile and peppermint have no caffeine.
8. Use Aromatic Candles/Oils
One of my favorite scents is lavender. I’m sure every person says that, but lavender promotes a sense of calm. I went to a yoga class once where at the end the instructor placed lavender oil on our foreheads while we were in corpse pose (nap time pose). It made me feel extremely calm and relaxed. I didn’t want to leave. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to get an oil diffuser just so I can smell lavender when it’s time to go to bed.
Aromatherapy can do wonders in reducing stress. I’m definitely guilty of taking my sense of smell for granted.
The scent of Jasmine can also help in reducing stress, and lemon.
9. Take a Bath/Shower
I wish I had a soaking tub. Fingers crossed for whenever my fiance and I buy a house. This goes right back to the benefits of being near a body of water. A nice, hot bubble bath not only relaxes you mentally, but the hot water opens up your pores, helps prevent tension in your muscles, and increases blood flow! Bet you didn’t know that, did ya?
10. Get Some Shut-Eye
A good night’s rest is oftentimes the only thing left to do after a long, hard day. Things really can look brighter after sleep.
If you have trouble sleeping, be sure to keep your phone and any other electronic device out of arm’s reach. If you usually take your shower in the morning, switch it up and take it right before bed. Be sure to keep your bedroom a degree or two cooler than normal, and keep it as dark as possible.
How do reduce stress? Leave a comment below! I’d love to hear your suggestions!