10 Tips for De-Stressing Your Life
It’s a busy time of year for a lot of us. If you were enjoying summer vacation, you’re probably now in the process of getting back into the swing of things. If you have kids, you might still be scrambling for last-minute school supplies and trying to get them excited about going back (good luck). Along with the pumpkin spice lattes and crisp weather, the beginning of fall usually brings with it the launching of various activities and routines. While getting into this groove can be very rewarding, the onslaught of busyness can also bring an unwelcome visitor—stress.
While stress itself is unavoidable (unless of course you want to live a boring, uneventful life), it doesn’t have to become crippling. Here are 10 healthy ways to deal with stress in your life:
1. Listen to some good music. Music is scientifically proven to help calm you down. It actually affects your brain waves, causes your breathing and heart rate to slow and activates your body’s “relaxation response.”
2. Pay attention to your posture. That’s right—the way you sit, stand and carry yourself throughout the day can have a profound impact on you mentally. Sitting up straight can reinforce confidence, whereas bad posture can lead to feelings of helplessness and stress.
3. Get a plant. Research has shown that having a potted plant or two in your office can reduce fatigue and stress, along with headaches and other physical ailments.
4. Stop, drop, yoga. Just stop what you’re doing for five minutes and get into a relaxing yoga pose. Yoga has proven to not only relieve stress but also calm symptoms of depression and anxiety. Check out a few good poses for reducing stress here!
5. Snag a smooch. Spontaneous kissing relieves stress by releasing endorphins that counteract your body’s feelings of stress and anxiety.
6. Hang out with someone funny. Or just watch a clip from your favorite Youtube comedian. Laughter calms your stress response and aids in muscle relaxation. It also increases your intake of oxygen, stimulates your heart and helps release endorphins. Laughter is also believed to have long-term effects like improving your immune system and your mood over time.
7. Count your blessings. In his book Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, Dr. Robert Emmons of the University of California, Davis reports that people who are grateful experience “higher levels of positive emotions such as joy, enthusiasm, love, happiness, and optimism.” Gratitude also creates an increased feeling of connectedness with others, which leads to better relationships.
8. Get up and go. Even if you don’t have time for a long workout, just a few minutes of exercise can greatly improve your mood and reduce stress. If you’re headed to lunch, consider a brisk 5-minute walk to the deli instead of the 2-minute drive. Instead of getting right to the business of cooking dinner or sitting the kids down for homework, take them on a quick bike ride around the neighborhood first. Find little ways to incorporate movement into your day, no matter how hectic it may seem. Nothing says stress like becoming one with your desk chair.
9. Interact with someone you like. Socializing has been shown to decrease anxiety and boost confidence. Also, since it causes you to focus your energy outward, it stops you from concentrating on your own stress.
10. Sleep it off. The amount of sleep you get is directly related to your stress level—and vice versa. If you don’t sleep enough, you feel more stressed; if you feel stressed, it’s hard to get a good night’s sleep. It’s a vicious cycle that leads to tons of sleep deficit issues, including slowed reaction times, poor judgment, loss of short-term memory—just to name a few. Get yourself into a good bedtime routine including relaxing activities like light reading. If you need a sleep aid, try something natural like melatonin. And most importantly, turn off those screens! Not only are they distracting and stress-inducing, but the artificial light is not conducive for healthy sleep.
Read my full post about how sleep affects health here.