In our fast-paced, no-mercy culture being “stressed” is probably an understatement. There is so much pressure coming from every angle, it’s a miracle most of us make it through the week.
Stress is incredibly unhealthy for you in every way—emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally. It is a good idea to try to find a habit or routine that lessens and possibly eliminates stress from your life.
First try to identify what contributes the most stress to your life. If possible, attempt to eliminate those things that create the most stress. Many times this is impossible because it is your job or your children that stress you out and you can’t get rid of those things! So you just have to learn how to handle the stressors without letting them get to you.
If you can’t get rid of the most stressful things in your life, here are some ways to free yourself from worry and relax.
- Workout. Working out is not just for people who want fit bodies—it is also for people who need to relieve stress! This is one of the best ways to engage your entire body in relieving stress because you are letting your muscles release tension and you will get endorphins from the workout. You will also have “accomplished something” once you complete a workout and you will feel better about yourself. Any type of exercise can help with stress; just do what makes you feel best!
For some people yoga is a great workout to relieve stress because there is so much emphasis on breathing correctly and stretching. Yoga also isn’t as harsh on your body as some other forms of exercise. If you are a runner, go on a long run to release all of the tension you build up throughout the day! Whatever workout routine works best for you, try to incorporate it into your weekly schedule. [Read: 6 Excellent Ab-Ripping Exercises to Adopt Right Now]
- Eat Healthy. A healthy body is a happy body! So many times we get caught up in efficiency and we lose sight of what really matters. Just because you can get breakfast at a fast food restaurant for one dollar and in record time doesn’t mean you should. The old saying “you are what you eat” has some merit. If you eat fast food all the time, you will ironically be moving more slowly because it is so unhealthy. If you drink a cup of coffee every time you need more energy at work, you are actually increasing your stress, not your productivity. If you skip lunch because you are trying to meet a deadline—or a budget—then you are ultimately hurting yourself more than helping.
Eating healthy meals will make you feel better and eating healthy snacks will actually increase your productivity. It is worth it to try to plan ahead for meals so that you can be fueling your body with what it needs. Try introducing a new way of eating into your life and watch the stress slowly dissipate! [Read: 10 Foods That Will Keep You Energized All Day]
- Clean or Rearrange Rooms. There’s always that one room—maybe the garage, or the office, or the bonus room—that always seems to stay messy despite your best efforts. Messiness and clutter can subconsciously contribute to stress. If you have a lot of clutter in your mind, you need your environment to be clean so that the clutter doesn’t become overwhelming.
Try going through your house and making it an environment that is peaceful and easily maneuverable. Get rid of things you don’t need, redecorate, or even rearrange furniture! Sometimes rearranging furniture is a good task to relieve stress because it changes your environment. If you are “stuck” in other areas of your life, especially your job, it will feel good to be able to change something. Try cleaning or rearranging and see if it is something that can help free you from stress.
- Read a Book. This probably isn’t for everyone, but for many people reading books acts like an escape from reality. You get to think about the characters instead of yourself. Also, it can be relaxing to spend some quiet time by yourself. Watching TV can be over stimulating and actually increase stress, even if it is “alone time.” Reading a book is a good alternative because you typically have to read a book in a quiet or peaceful environment.
If reading is something you enjoy, try to incorporate reading into your week—maybe even join a book club so that you can talk about the books you are reading with like-minded people. This would allow for personal and social time. Reading can be very relaxing, so try to make time for it if you’re stressed! [Read: 10 Easy-to-Understand Books that Will Make You Smarter]
- Do Something Creative. We do so many mundane, predictable, exhausting tasks throughout the day without once engaging any kind of creativity. Doing something creative can help with stress because it uses a different part of your brain than normal, everyday tasks. Doing something creative will be a different undertaking for every individual.
For some, it may be painting. For others, it may be something musical like playing guitar or singing. Another way to be creative is with cooking or baking. Maybe you love to dance—go dancing! Do some crafts with your friends. There are endless ways to be creative. This can help relieve stress because it is doing something you enjoy, and when you are happier, you are more likely to be less stressed.
- Do Something Charitable. Sometimes helping people is as good for us as it is for them. For many people, doing charitable work gives them a sense of purpose. It also makes them feel helpful and useful. There are so many ways that you can help people—such as making a meal for a neighbor, visiting a nursing home, or volunteering at the local community center. No matter what you do, you will relieve stress in your own life by helping others because you will remember that life is more than just a job, money, or everyday tasks. Being with other people will remind you that people matter and, in turn, that you matter. Try to be intentional about helping others, whether it is on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis!
- Meditate. Meditation is a classic way of relieving stress. Many times, the root of stress is over-thinking. We think too much about things that are outside of our control or we speculate about things that we simply cannot know yet. Meditating can help to focus your mind and free you from these stressful thoughts. Meditation also focuses a lot on breathing.
Doing deep breathing exercises can really help you to slow down. Breathing exercises are also great to learn for stressful moments. If you all of a sudden find yourself in a stressful situation, focusing on your breathing will help you to calm down in the moment. Meditation doesn’t have to be mystic or spiritual to be effective, but if you want to take that route it can be a very good practice for your spiritual, emotional, and mental health.
- Detox from Technology. In our era and culture, technology is completely consuming. There is virtually no escape because we are totally immersed and surrounded by a sea of smart phones, laptops, TVs, radios—and the list goes on and on. Not only is the technology itself overwhelming, but the Internet has added a completely new dimension to being “plugged in.” We are constantly connected—and maybe even dependent on—social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (just to name a few).
Although we feel like these things are helping us stay in touch with our friends throughout the day, the reality is that we are constantly over-stimulated and bombarded with information. If you are feeling a lot of stress, try a technology detox. Your friends might think you are crazy, but it is worth a shot! Stay off of social media for a day, use technology as little as possible, and see if you are less stressed by the end of the day. This could be one of the most eye-opening, stress-relieving exercises you do!
- Spend Quality Time with Friends and Family. Last but definitely not least, spend time with the people that love you. A lot of stress can derive from a feeling that you need to perform well in order to have value. By spending time with friends and family, you will be affirmed that you are enough just the way you are, and you will remember that you have a group of people that love and support you no matter what. It is always a good idea to just hang out and “be” with the people you care about the most. Sometimes, the best cure for stress is to spend time doing what is really most important, and for most people friends and family are most important.