Stress is normal. The key is learning how to manage it so it doesn't overtake your life and keep you from living fully.
Being stressed can have a long- and short-term negative impact on your physical and mental health! Which is why it is so important to learn how to relax, release, and recenter.
Demanding jobs, family life, social calendars, and of course, the never-ending news cycle all bring energy that can often make us feel out of control, which feels uncomfortable for any human. And while we usually can’t change much about the external factors that cause stress, there is still one area you can control: YOU!
BONUS: Learning how to destress isn't just about self-care and sanity, it's for your growth.
Figuring out how to remedy stress is like sprinkling Miracle Gro on your personal-development garden. It helps you evolve into a strong-minded human who can feel tension, overwhelm, and pressure, and still find their way out.
1. Meditate—it's not just for monks.
Anyone can practice meditation. It’s simple, doesn’t cost any money, and doesn’t require any special equipment.
Even better, it can bring instant relief and is a proactive mental exercise.
If the idea of meditation doesn’t feel right for you, just taking the time to do some deep breathing is a great alternative.
Let me nerd out on you for a minute and tell you how amazing your brain is... [Just the act of taking those deep breaths flips on your parasympathetic nervous system, which is designed to help your body relax and recover from stressful experiences.]
Breathing deeply tells your brain that you’re safe.
And then that beautiful brain of yours wires that message out to the rest of your body--your heart, your eyes, your lungs, your blood vessels, your digestive system: “Hey, guys, turns out we’re good. You don’t have to be on high alert and ready for our body to run. Settle down—we’re okay.”
And guess what? If you string together a few of those deep breaths, you actually have started a meditation practice! Surprise! Meditation doesn’t have to be an esoteric exercise; it’s really just about pausing to be present in the moment. Just stopping to consciously take a single deep breath is one way of embracing and focusing on that one moment in time.
2. Accept and embrace change—don't resist the flow of life.
Staying open and agile gives your mind the space to find solutions quicker.
Our days are FULL of minor disruptions. You get dressed for the day, only to spill coffee on your shirt five minutes before you’re supposed to walk out the door. You get in the car to leave for work, only to realize that you’re almost on E and have to get gas before you can get on the road. You forget you have a meeting and wind up being five minutes late. You’re halfway through cooking dinner when you realize you’re missing a key ingredient.
Your first instinct might be to beat yourself up over these hiccups.
But that’s wasting precious energy.
What would be worse—being five minutes late to a meeting OR being five minutes late to a meeting and then being distracted for another ten minutes because you’re stressing over it and not present in the conversation?
I promise you that those five minutes were a minor glitch in everyone else’s day, so don’t make them the focus of yours.
3. Do something relaxing for at least 30 minutes—every day.
If you could take an hour out of your day to do absolutely anything, what would it be? Taking a walk in nature? Knitting? Reading a good book? Cooking? Watching puppy videos on YouTube?
I’m here to tell you, you should be taking time every day for the things that bring you joy and allow you to relax. That break from your go-go-go life is so important for your body and your mind. Let’s normalize rest!
The first few times you take this time for yourself, you may feel a twinge of guilt. You may start to think about all of the other things you could or should be doing with that time.
You may even think to yourself, “This was great. I need to remind myself to take a break once in a while and do things like this.” Push through those feelings and keep making this time for yourself. Not “once in a while.” Every. Single. Day.
Here’s my take—if you feel guilty while taking those 30 minutes or that hour for yourself, it means that you don’t do it enough. Lean into that feeling and remind yourself that you’re building a daily routine that’s good for your mental wellness. Being restful is not laziness. It’s productive and necessary so that you can show up as your best self.
What do all of these remedies have in common? They’re all about being more mindful.
More than three decades of scientific research at medical centers all over the world suggests that training in mindfulness can positively and often profoundly affect our ability to reduce stress, pain, illness, and medical symptoms while also learning to live life more fully.
There are so many different relief techniques and tips on how to manage stress, and it's important to note that every person is unique and responds to different techniques. I highly recommend you try out different remedies to see what you enjoy most and what works best for you.
Start today, friend—what restful activity are you going to enjoy for 30 minutes?