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Find out how to decompress in a natural way. Try these 5 real life tips to manage stress and calm your mind.
Stress is an inherent feeling to alert us that there is something that needs to change. How amazing the body and mind is!
But don't stress your stress! This feeling should be seen as a kind of fortune teller, and we are lucky to have it. Before you are necessarily aware that action needs to be taken for your well-being, your brain is working to help you notice what needs to be done.
Signals are sent throughout the body to alert your conscious mind of a damaging situation. I don't mean a dangerous situation, that is fight or flight, which is equally helpful. I'm talking about a slow burn issue, something that’s tolerable but wears on the mind bit by bit.
We allow these situations to go on far longer than we should in many cases. The reason we do this is because change is uncomfortable. Change is so uncomfortable that the mind prefers the stress of dealing with a slow burn damaging situation, to the systemshock of forcing a helpful variation in our comfort zone.
When you’re stressed, you probably know exactly what is stressing you out. The thing is, the process of changing the situation that’s causing you upset seems more stressful.
At the onset, making revisions to your work, relationships, diet, activity level, mindset or routine will be a bit - possibly a lot - more stressful than letting it be. However, the pay off will be life changing.
Listening to your own personal stress is key. What is making you feel this way? Once you answer this question, the hurdle is summoning the motivation to take action.
One thing will always hold true, we can not change or control other people or situations we aren’t in command of. What we can do is change the way we react to situations, and choose what our energy is spent on.
Budgeting your emotional energy is a great way to avoid unnecessary stress. Imagine your daily allotment of emotional energy is 1 dollar, 100 cents.
None of us have infinite energy to dole out upon the demands of outside forces. You owe it to yourself to decide what you will spend precious pennies on. This sounds vague, but there are some stressors you already know will lie in wait to eat up your energy on a daily basis.
These are some examples of things you can get ahead of to save your pennies.
Oh, the time and energy we could save if we did some of our necessary tasks before crunch time. The best cure for stress is to spend your time doing exactly what you want to be doing. Pick a certain time of the week and get some things out of the way for yourself to open up maximum time for pleasurable activities.
- Meal prep breakfast and dinner. Spinach, mushroom, onion, egg and cheese cups make a great grab and go breakfast, and keep well in the fridge. Make a big potato, pepper, zucchini and squash casserole topped with cheese. Or prep a week’s batch of chickpeas, black beans, and quinoa with taco seasoning for a Mexican power bowl. Then add your cheese, Greek yogurt, and greens right before you chow down.
- Pick out your clothes for the entire week, and minimize your wardrobe. Waking up in the morning and going through your entire wardrobe to figure out what to wear is something that stresses everyone out. Many highly efficient, successful people like Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, and Barack Obama have used wardrobe minimalism to save their energy for more important decisions. President Obama told Vanity Fair in 2012 that having fewer decisions in the closet aids in better decisions for the country. Having your clothes all ready to go will allow you to sleep longer, leave the house on time, and not rush.
- Get your most dreaded responsibility done early so you don't have to stress about it throughout the day.
- Shower in the evening in order to have one less task to complete in the morning - unless the hot water is instrumental in helping you wake up of course.
- Gas up your car on the way home from work rather than on the way there.
Meditation is a popular practice used by successful people the world over. The cause of stress is oftentimes an overload of unnecessary thoughts.
When we think of meditation, sitting cross-legged silently counting breaths comes to mind. This traditionally is the posture and method of proper meditation, but meditation can be interpreted more broadly.
The goal is to calm intrusive thoughts and eliminate mental noise to give the psyche a break from it’s never ending job of thinking. This can be achieved in many different ways, and they don't all have to involve sitting still. Identify what relaxes you and be mindful to clear your mind while doing those things.
- If you enjoy cooking, make that time a personal reprieve with no outward distractions. Turn on relaxing music instead of the TV, and let the family know to give you space. Feel yourself connect with the fresh ingredients you are preparing for your body's health.
- Use your gym’s sauna and focus on the heat relaxing your muscles, close your eyes and breath in the smell of the wood.
- Sit on your porch and focus on the sounds of the birds and trees.
- Fluid movement like dancing, yoga, Pilates, and swimming are great meditative exercises.
What you do in the time right before bed and the hour after waking affect your brain activity in a crucial way. We have come to rely on our phones for almost everything. The convenience is amazing and more than helpful but can be the opposite of relaxing.
We used to have to struggle to recall certain things, or simply be comfortable not knowing the answer to a question. Now that the process of our daily thoughts are merged with immediate gratification, our brains crave and expect the constant feed of information. Racing thoughts and the inability to relax are often the results of entertainment desensitization. The speed with which we absorb a bit of information on our phone and move on to the next thing makes it hard to mentally slow down when we finally want to.
Taking an hour in the morning and an hour before bed to operate at an organic mental speed will help calm racing and intrusive thoughts. Before long your brain will expect relaxation at these times. The payoff from this transition will definitely be rewarding.
- Buy an alarm clock so that the first sound you hear and sight you see doesn’t come from your smartphone.
- Check the weather the night before so you can be prepared for how you’ll need to dress and plan for traffic conditions without looking at a screen.
- Pick up a book in the evening to replace the rapid incoming of information from the TV, phone or computer. Use your mind to imagine how the scenery and characters look. Form their tones of voice and accent in your imagination.
This needs to be a time just for you, and something that your mind can come to rely on as a break from the stress of daily life. The mind is comforted by habits and a simple healthy ritual is a perfect way to re-calibrate. The key is to put focus upon it as a trusted time out from demands and distraction.
- Pick a quiet place to enjoy your breakfast in the morning.
- Take daily walks outdoors and appreciate the smells and sounds. Notice how the foliage you see along your path changes from day to day
- Have a cup of tea, or a glass of wine in the evenings while listening to your favorite music or reading a book.
-Take your time enjoying your nightly skincare regimen. A few minutes to yourself before bed focusing on self care can be very helpful in reducing stress.
- Plant a small garden and spend time taking care of your plants. Nurturing the food that will fuel your body and mind creates a bond with the earth and greatly improves the relationship we have with our healthy choices.
No is a powerful word, and it’s quite difficult when it’s being said to someone who wants a yes. It is hard to deny a coworker, friend, or family member your time and energy.
Many people become stressed because they are simply giving more than they have, and are running at a deficit. Does your spouse ask you if there is anything to eat? Do you know where my keys are? Have the kids had a bath? Do you find yourself picking up other employees slack at work? Does a friend monopolize your time when they are bored, even if you need time for yourself? Do you give energy to situations when you don't have it to give?
If so it may be time to have a compassionate conversation with your loved ones, friends or coworkers.
- Let them know that if there’s something they want or would like to have done, they must take responsibility for it themselves if they are capable.
- Politely let your family know that there is food in the kitchen they can make for themselves.
- When someone asks you where something is as a suggestion that you find it for them, say you don't know, or “I’m sure you'll find it”.
- Tell a friend you aren’t available if they are taking up too much of your time. You are absolutely allowed to be busy with your own agenda.
Of course, we would all like to have someone else do the small tasks we don't feel like doing, and sometimes we fall into care-taking to our own detriment. If you find yourself taking on unbalanced emotional and physical labor in your life that causes you to stress, change the dynamic. The people around you surely will be just as happy to help themselves as you are to help them.
We hope some of those tips are useful in helping you to not sweat the small stuff. If you have any tips you find particularly effective, let us know below!