Stress and anxiety are routine for most people, whether they want to acknowledge it or not. Between keeping up with work and family matters — not to mention the constant whirl of the 24-hour news cycle — daily life can feel overwhelming. Completely eliminating these emotions is impractical. The key is to know how to relax and practice stress-relieving activities when natural breaks between scheduled pursuits permit. There are a variety of methods for doing this. Try practicing:
Getting Outside Yourself
There’s no doubt that taking care of others’ needs can be stressful at times. However, focusing on others for a while allows you to put yourself in their shoes and get you out of yours. Something as small as lending someone your ear for an hour will not only make you feel good about helping someone, but it’ll also take your mind off your own stressors.
Cellphones, computers and tablets … You need your devices, but it’s also important to completely disengage from them for a while every day. Time spent on devices has been found to be directly correlated with increased anxiety and depression. Go outside in the sun, sit and talk in person with a friend, take a nap or read a book (the paper kind).
Some people are continually giving to everyone but themselves, and being left with nothing but stress and fatigue. You must take care of yourself to adequately care for others, so why not treat yourself with the same devotion as you would a loved one? Take time to pamper yourself, especially after a stressful day. Try to remember that anxiety is also biochemical, and a substance like CBD can enhance your biochemistry.
No one knows you better than you. Self-awareness is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Different people find different things relaxing. A long run may be a stress-buster for one, whereas another person may decrease stress by taking a nap or watching a comedy. Find what works best for you and try to fit it into your daily life.
Being in the Moment
Mindfulness meditation is the practice of being completely in the moment; you’re fully aware of your surroundings and your actions in the here and now. At the same time, you’re staying focused and at peace; you’re not allowing your environment or thoughts to overwhelm you. Whatever you’re doing — you don’t even have to be sitting still, or sitting at all — be mindful of all your senses and for the moment, refrain from living in the past or in the future.
Walking is not only great for your physical health, but it’s also a great stress-reducer. Endorphins are boosted on a brisk walk of at least 30 minutes; they make you feel good while also reducing stress hormones like cortisol. Regular exercise can improve your overall body image and mood. So, whether you’re outside or inside, alone or with a group of friends, walking will decrease fatigue while increasing your energy levels. Meanwhile, it has a calming effect on your brain, improving memory and focus and developing “involuntary attention” (i.e., the ability to reflect while remaining aware). Try mindfulness meditation while walking.
Sometimes you need to summon your inner child, let go and play. Frolic with your kids and your dog, participate in a pickup basketball game or join an adult kickball league. Don’t do it for the exercise, just get out and play simply for the fun of it. Try to get your friends and family to partake.
A power nap of 30 minutes or less can sometimes make all the difference when it comes to your energy level and emotional state. Take half of your lunch hour for a quick nap. It’ll be like a mini-vacation that’ll likely ease the rest of the workday.
It’s important for your mental and physical health to learn to conquer your feelings of stress and anxiety. It’ll take some time and effort at first, but as soon as you put these techniques into daily practice, you’ll be on the road to a happier, healthier life.