Relax! April is Stress Awareness Month
Some days are great, while others… make you want to crawl into your bed and never come out. We get it. Being an intern, student, employee, friend, sister, brother, or lover—sometimes all at the same time—is a lot. There are literally thousands of reasons to get stressed out. And while on a limited budget, you may not have the capacity to spend top dollar on therapists, yoga studios or a gym.
Worry not—there are quick and easy ways to help you if you’re feeling the pressure. In honor of Stress Awareness Month, here are 7 magical ways to relax, de-stress and breathe so you can get all your tasks done and without freaking out or losing sleep.
1. Meditate, yes, Meditate
Got 10 minutes? Great. You don’t need to have to be in a yoga studio with a teacher to guide you to do this simple practice. Go to a quiet space (this could be in an empty conference room or in a park bench outside), and sit in silence, taking deep, slow, steady breaths. Putting your attention on your breathing will calm your nervous system and help you focus on the present moment, rather than thinking about the 50 things you have to do later. Of course, there’s an app for that! Some great (and free!) apps to help:
- ZenFriend – Timed meditation
- Omvana – Guided meditation
- Take a Break! – Choice of 7 minute or 13 minute sessions with calming nature sounds
- Headspace – Guided meditation to help you understand and build your practice over time
2. Take a Walk
If movement is more your thing—take a walk. Perhaps this means getting up from your desk to walk around the office for 10 minutes, socializing with coworkers, or maybe this means stepping outside for a quick 15-minute break. A study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports found that participants felt considerably more enthusiastic, less tense, and generally more relaxed and able to cope at the office when they took a 30-minute walk break.
3. Turn it Off!
Email, Facebook and texting – oh my! With the rise of technology, our brains are addled. This can cause unconscious anxiety. Be more mindful of how often you use your devices, and limit the time you spend on them. For example: turn off your computer an hour before bed to wind down, read and relax. Don’t answer your phone every time it dings—the world won’t come to an end. Keep only one or two tabs open online, so you’re not multitasking and doing 20 different things. Technology has a greater effect on us than we think – and turning it off can let you focus more on the present moment without having all the distractions stress you out.
4. Get Out of Your Mind
Sometimes we’re just in situations we can’t change. We’re in a fight with our significant other, we’re in the middle of a big project with an impending deadline, or we have too much on our plates. Get your feelings out! Studies have shown that writing about stressful events improves both your physical and psychological health.
Some people start their day writing in their journal, and write every random thought down no matter what it is, positive or negative. It clears your head and leaves room for the days thoughts. Some tips: journal at the end of your day to recap it, or if you’re having trouble sleeping because you’re feeling overwhelmed, write a list of all of the things you want to accomplish. When they’re out of your mind and on paper, you won’t have to worry you’ll forget. And lastly, write some goals for yourself and timelines for those goals. Track your progress. This will make your everyday efforts more meaningful.
5. Eat Healthier
This may seem obvious for a healthy body, but it also holds true for a healthy mind. Our bodies and minds are connected, and it’s good to fuel it with healthy, nourishing foods that boost the immune system, rather than depleting it. As a young professional, it may seem hard to eat healthy, and foods such as pizza, candy and alcohol can seem cheaper and easier to get (and of course, delicious and enjoyable). However, when you replace that candy bar with dark chocolate and nuts, and that extra beer at the bar with a soda water, you’ll sleep better and feel better in the short and long term. Here are 10 Yummy, Healthy Meals You Can Make in a Jiffy—For Peanuts!
6. Get a Pet (or hang out with one)
If you’re able to adopt a pet from a shelter, studies show animals greatly reduce our stress levels and increase our happiness. Research shows that just petting a dog for a few minutes decreases cortisol, the stress hormone, in both the human and the dog. If you can’t adopt right now, volunteer at a shelter, become a dog walker, dog sit for a friend, or go to a local dog park. What’s not to love about cuddling and playing with our best furry friends?
They say laugher is the best medicine, so incorporate more joy and humor into your life! Socialize with coworkers, start listening to a comedy podcast or Netflix show, or just aim to see the humor in this year’s elections. Life is only taken too seriously if we make it that way. Just a simple smile from a stranger or a funny situation can transform your entire day. Look out for those moments in your day, every day. Every stressful situation is temporary, and we can always find some lightness even in the heaviest of times.