Stress- the word is ubiquitous. Everyone bleeds stress differently, so we all have our tricks to ease anxiety, from positive affirmations to taking it out on a punching bag.
See? Simple. We get all fight-and-flighty about stuff because our lizard brains tell us that stress is, well, stressful. And dangerous. So it’s natural to hold our breaths during a time like that; it’s just our body trying (unsuccessfully most of the time) to help us out.
Make it a point to take a second to breathe deeply. In and out at least three to five times should help. If you need a reminder, there are literally hundreds of ways to snap yourself out of it and remember to breathe.
One of the coolest, simplest ways we’ve seen is to use a physical marker in your environment to remind you to breathe. For instance, every time you pass through a door, use it as a reminder to take a couple of deep breaths. Car doors, bus doors, and all other kinds of doors count, too.
If you want to get all high-tech and fancy, use your smartphone or smartwatch. There are apps by the dozens that provide guided breathing exercises. Many smartwatches assume you need the reminder, so it comes built right into the device. This is cool, but be ready- these are the same watches that like to boss *ahem*, motivate you around about getting your exercise. This brings us to our next coping mechanism for fighting stress…
If you’re a fan of exercise, you know nothing will drain the stress right out of your muscles like getting in a good, sweaty workout. Gyms may be closed right now, but home workouts are getting so popular, we’re wondering if it’s even worth it to go back!
Running and Yoga get a ton of accolades for targeting stress-relief, so if you haven’t taken up either yet, now is a perfect time.
We know, for some, nothing can be more stressful than telling yourself you “should” be doing something you just don’t want to do, double so when it comes to getting some exercise. There are tons of ways to get some exercise without “should-ing” on yourself about it, though.
Dancing is a fantastic way to get in some exercise without feeling like you’re exercising! Blast some tunes while you’re cooking or cleaning and dance around the house like a crazy person. If your family is there judging you (very likely), tell them if they want you to live longer, they’ll tell you how awesome you are instead.
If you live in a multi-level house, stash stuff on the other floors that you’ll have to get over the course of the day. You’d be surprised how many steps you get in walking up and down those stairs multiple times a day- especially carrying laundry. Similarly, sneak in some housework in bits and pieces that you can work up a sweat with. Mopping, scrubbing showers, or bathtubs- you get the idea, just don’t forget the dancing.
Go out to take a leisurely walk and see what happens from there. Especially in a natural setting, we’ll often end up walking even farther than we planned or up more hills than we anticipate. Before you know it- you’ve worked up a healthy sweat! Just being out in nature is stress-busting. Also, the unexpected congrats from your smartwatch will be so gratifying.
Gardening is such a great way to kill two stress-birds with one stone (don’t throw rocks at birds, though) by communing with nature and getting in some exercise. True story- if you’ve never gardened before, you’re in for a pleasantly sweaty treat.
It’s stress-relieving benefits apply to all of our senses. The smell of fragrant plants and flowers is soothing, the tactile feel of digging in the earth is relaxing, and the sounds of birds around you will put you in a very zen place.
Added bonus? The satisfaction you’ll get when your bounty begins to grow and thrive. It’ll have you smiling every time you go outside.
Once you start journaling, painting, puzzling, knitting, etc, you may find yourself addicted. You know those mandala coloring books you see in the checkout at the grocery store? There’s a reason people love to engage in these kinds of hobbies- they’re incredibly therapeutic.
Other hobbies like cooking, creative writing, and sculpting are great ways to kick stress to the curb as well, and your finished product will very likely be Instagram-worthy!
Want to know a not-so-secret secret? At of the day, we’ve just got to accept that stress will be waiting for us sometimes. No one’s life is stress-free. If they try to tell you otherwise, by all means, let them continue to live in their world of illusions. For the rest of us, being prepared for handling stress means being able to look at it as it is.
This is where mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness practice and mindfulness meditation are shown to decrease stress levels significantly for those who suffer from anxiety. The trick? There’s no trick. Simply sitting with our feelings and identifying them will reduce our stress levels. You’ll be surprised how little time it takes to recognize our stress, disarm it, and refrain from reacting to it.
Remember our lizard brain? Sit down for a second and have a meeting with it. Our body will relax and realize it doesn’t have to flee a predator with really sharp teeth.
Unless you’re on safari fleeing a predator with really sharp teeth. Fight or flight might be a good idea then.
There are a ton of other things out there we can do to lessen our stress levels. Before you try gimmicks and special potions, try the basics. If that doesn’t work, by all means, give them a go! Gimmicks and potions can be delightful (especially if they smell good and involve massages and body wraps!), so drop us a note in the comments below and let us know what you do to alleviate stress and tension!