Stress is an unfortunate side effect of living life in today’s fast-paced world. Between work, school, family and friends, there’s often no time left to dedicate to ourselves. I recently wrote about my brush with burn out, and while I’m still not totally out of the woods, I’m no longer in the thick of it. Part of the reason why is because I’ve made time to take care of myself. “Self-care” may be the buzzword of the moment, and sometimes I read “self-care” articles that make me roll my eyes so far back into my head that I worry they’ll never refocus. But truthfully, taking care of your mind and body is incredibly important if you want to ward off the kind of exhaustion and mental drainage that can have a seriously negative impact on your quality of life.
Today, I’m sharing 7 stress relieving techniques that have helped me climb out of my funk and have improved my mood and productivity.
- Meditation. I’m right smack in the middle of my 30 day mindfulness challenge (have you started yet?), and I can truthfully say, I’ve really started to reap the benefits. I’ve come to look forward to those 10 minutes a day of perfect stillness and quiet. When I meditate in the mornings, I find that I have a more positive outlook throughout my day. And when I meditate at night, I sleep more soundly.
- Exercise. I have a love/hate relationship with exercise. I hate doing it, but I love how I feel afterward. I struggle with discipline, so I hired a personal trainer who I meet with twice a week. He keeps me accountable and pushes me to new limits. I try to work out a day or two on my own, and when I do, my mind feels clearer, and I feel noticeably better. Even a short 15 minute walk is an instant mood booster.
- Organizing. I have a type-A personality, which means I like neatness and order. When my house or my office is disorganized, I find it difficult to concentrate, which only fuels my stress. It turns out, I’m not alone. Mess can indeed cause stress. It’s no surprise, then, that when I made the time to file away the papers I had scattered on my desk, unsubscribed from unnecessary e-mail lists, reorganized my closet, and threw out junk I had been hoarding for no good reason, I felt instantly better.
- Hobbies. When we get busy with our obligations, we forget about doing the things we actually enjoy doing. For me, it’s writing this blog (and eating delicious food things, but that’s for another time). I’ve been writing for almost 2 years, but usually sporadically. I decided to rededicate myself to doing what I love to do – write. As a result, I’ve reconnected with my creative side and have a new stress-relieving outlet.
- Sleep. This last week notwithstanding, I’ve made a concerted effort to get more sleep. I set an alarm on my phone reminding me to go to bed, which sounds insane, but usually works. Getting a full 8 hours of sleep leaves me feeling so much less stressed than when I’m running on fumes, which was happening far too often. Sometimes going to bed earlier means not everything will get done, but learning to drop the ball is something I’m working on, and sometimes, it feels pretty great.
- Gratitude. Gratitude and positivity have been my focus for the last couple of months. I start every day by listing 3 things for which I’m grateful. Sometimes its things as simple as an easy commute to work or my favorite television show in the evening. No matter or big or small, there is always something for which to be grateful, and reminding myself of these blessings has helped me in moments when I’m feeling overwhelmed.
- Music. Listening to music is a great distraction that can help alleviate your stress. It’s science. On most days, I listen to podcasts on my way to and from work. But, I’ve started listening to music again, allowing it to transport me to another place and time. Most recently, I found all of the CD’s I made during college, and it’s been a really fun trip down memory lane.
What are some ways you relieve your stress?
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