Written by Melanie Kozlan, Four Green Steps
Hiding from the world under your pillows? Finding yourself having small panic attacks or just need to relax? Forget binge-drinking and saving up for Club Med, we have seven surefire ways to soothe your inner stress monster!
1.Take 30 minutes a day to organize yourself.
Making time to organize will make sure you are organized. Being organized will help you manage your time and make an endless task-list seem less intimidating.
Taking the time to eat properly will likely cut your stress in half; you'll feel better and have more energy. Taking care of yourself is basically the antithesis of stress because you're focusing on bettering yourself rather than spreading yourself thin. Try some of these delicious vegetarian recipes.
3.Consider a detox diet
Try a revitalizing detox to free your body of harsh chemicals and feel lighter, better and like-new.
4.Do something nice for someone else
Do-gooding is the selfless secret to decreasing your stress status. Not only will you gain karma, you will temporarily free yourself of your circumstances and have gathered a refreshing new perspective.
5.Free Association: Busy your hands & free your mind.
Perfect for anytime you need to relax or when you find yourself obsessing or distracted. Grab a pen (or your keyboard) and write yourself tired. Just write without thinking for twenty minutes, you will exhaust your stressful thoughts and generally feel better. Therapists recommend doing this on a daily basis, but it is also great when you find yourself mulling over isolated stressful incidents or are nervous about an upcoming event.
6.Sleep! But don't oversleep!
You can't sleep away your stress or hide in bed. Similarly, you can't stay up all night and get everything done (or at least, not well). Get your rest, even take a 20 minute nap if necessary but don't go to extremes!
Exercise is the ultimate stress reliever because you simultaneously release endorphins, increase your energy and build confidence. You'll instantly feel better and be better-suited to handle any upcoming problems or projects.
8.Take a bubble bath
Bring the spa to you and soak away your worries. Plus it cuts down on your water and energy intake compared with taking a shower.
9.Take a walk
The quick break and fresh air will re-energize you and clear your mind.
10.Get up earlier
The extra half hour won't make a significant difference on your sleep but it will make a difference on your attitude for the day. You will be more relaxed and better prepared; people who wake up earlier tend to accomplish more because you'll have an "Up and at 'em" approach to the day.
11.Do something creative
Paint, garden, cook, feng shui, write haikus… No matter what you choose, doing something fun and hands on will make you feel self-satisfied and have a positive perspective for dealing with other things.
Music can easily lift your spirits and pose a stress lubricant for any situation (traffic, work, cleaning, jogging, cooking…) Listening to cheesy music and/or singing along is an instant stress destroyer. It's impossible to take anything seriously when you're listening to Richard Cheese or Wham!
13.Limit your internet and cell phone use.
Technology makes it incredibly easy to keep in touch with people. It is also an incredibly easy way to drive us crazy! If you find the sound of your phone making you cringe there are two easy ways to handle it: Turn it off for a few hours or change the ringtone to something that always makes you smile. Limiting your internet use is the best way to cut down on mindless procrastination and free your time for better things.
Laughter is underrated, particularly when dealing with everyday stress. Laughter lets us take life less seriously and gain an instant happier perspective, so make sure laughter is part of your schedule. Listen to stand up comedy at work, have a marathon of a funny show or re-watch your favorite funny movies. Or just practice your fake laugh until you laugh for real!
15.Call a friend
Even if you are addicted to text messaging, taking a break to call a friend will help get your mind off things and remind you that you don't have to face the world alone! Plus it's always great to catch up and shake off some stress.
16.Cut down on caffeine.
It may seem necessary to tackle your to-do list, but caffeine will only raise your anxiety and too much will make you feel cracked out and more stressed. Opt for herbal teas, cancel that extra shot of espresso or stick to decaf.
17.Start your day positive
Make a habit of doing something you love first thing in the morning, can you think of a better way to start your day? Instead of rushing to work, watch an episode of your favorite show, read, do yoga or anything that will put you in good spirits for the rest of your day.
If done wrong, you've wasted time and are more aware of your problems. If done right (and regular) you will feel in touch with yourself, relaxed and confident. Take ten minutes to just breathe, relate to yourself and clear your mind.
19.Concentrate on what you want to happen and not what you don't
Take mind over matter and create a can-do mindset rather than a 'I hope this doesn't happen' attitude. You'll feel much more productive and less hopeless when you focus on what you can do and what you want rather than the worse case scenarios. Or take the Boy Scout method- rather than worry about the worst scenario, prepare for it!
20.Make time for what makes you happy
Dealing with a heavy workload when you're happy and when you're miserable are unthinkably different things. Make your happiness a priority and will benefit other areas of your life by pure consequence (unless what makes you happy leads to an unhappy excess).
Despite fear of falling into a rut, routine is the most basic way to fight stress. You'll feel organized, healthy and more capable of handling anything thrown your way. A lack of routine can make everything feel messier than it needs to be.
22.Make time for friends and family
It will help you feel connected and not get lost in the everyday stresses of work and city-life. Make stress wait, not your loved ones; there is always opportunity to be busy, worried or anxious, so don't worry about letting it take the backseat to the people you want to see.
Whether through yoga or just stretching out your limbs first thing in the morning or during break, loosening up will help your body (and mind) both energize and relax.
24.Don't make things bigger than they are
Put things into perspective, it may seem like a huge problem, project or decision now, but how important will it be in a few months when you have new problems, projects and decisions? Don't turn to Nihilism, but understand Kierkegaard's greatest wisdom of life "Nil Admirari' (Marvel at nothing) everything is the same even when it's different!
Possibly the most effective way to instantly decrease stress, don't be shy with hugs! It sounds silly but try it and watch your troubles disappear!