Living in New York City, working in the media industry, leading an active lifestyle with homemade, nutrient-dense meals, AND maintaining a healthy social life means my stress level has the potential to crumble me. Based on the above, I don’t have time for that. That’s why I adopted seven methods to manage my stress so my mind and body can perform at their optimum.
So many facets of life contribute to our stress levels: work, travel, family, friendships, relationships, expenses, lack of sleep…the list is endless. But when we allow stress to take over, our quality of life suffers A LOT. I know for me, that means binge eating, skipping workouts, restless sleep, and depression. Everything turns to gray, and I start going through the motions of life rather than living it.
That’s why when I start to feel overwhelmed and stressed, I stop, center myself, and use one (or more) of the below.
1. Close your eyes and take five deep breaths
My number one method to managing stress on the spot: BREATHE. Inhale the positive, exhale the negative. I physically drop everything, close my eyes, and escape for just a few moments. During my inhale I visualize the things that make me happy or remember past experiences that brought me joy, and during my exhale I release whatever it is that’s causing me stress and adding unwanted tension.
Sometimes I’ll make a cup of herbal tea (like peppermint), and inhale the scent while I enjoy my meditative moment.
2. Go for a walk
Whether it’s inside or out, I love the idea of getting up and removing myself from the environment that’s causing me stress. As a walking commuter, I get a solid 30 minutes after work everyday to walk away my stress. I take in my surroundings and focus on the moment rather than the past. Get up from your desk and take a walk around the block (or even the office) when you start to feel overwhelmed. Taking regular mental breaks will help your creativity and drive.
But I’ll admit, sometimes I can’t just “walk it off.” I’m too frustrated, too anxious, too STRESSED, which brings me to my next method.
3. Talk with someone you’re close with
God bless my family for talking to me on my walks home after difficult days at work. Sometimes you just need someone to vent, and rant, and scream, and cry to, and that’s ok. Allow yourself these mini moments, because once you release them they can’t hold you down.
Talk it out, let it out, and move on with the conversation and life. Some days I barge through the door, plop down on the couch next to my boyfriend and go on a 20 minute rant about my stressful day. After talking it out, I’m eventually back to my cheerful giggly self (find yourself a person who can flip your mood and help center you, and then never let them go).
4. Sweat it out
You had to have guessed exercise made my list. Physical activity allows you to sweat out your problems. My favorite workout when I’m super stressed? Kickboxing. What’s better than punching and kicking your problems away?! You don’t need a punching bag, just a decent amount of space and a water bottle near by (trust me, you’ll need it).
Any form of exercise will help you destress (and prevent you from becoming even more stressed in the future). Running, Zumba, cycling, HIIT classes, weight lifting…anything that escalates your heart rate and forces you to focus will do the trick.
5. Practice yoga
Yoga is a new development for me. I started practicing about four months ago and I’ve been holding poses and working through flows ever since. During my practices I clear my mind by tuning into my body and focusing my attention on my breath. Whether it’s a 10-minute meditative session or a 45-minute full-body flow, yoga helps center me and connects my body to my mind. The result: I feel calm, centered, and empowered.
If you’re the type of person who claims you don’t have time for yoga, you most likely need it the most! (I used to be that person. Trust me, yoga will do wonders for you.)
6. Read a book
Put your phone down, turn the TV off, and pick up a book. It’ll be a temporary escape from reality, which is exactly what we all need sometimes. I love curling up in a cozy chair with a steaming cup of tea and getting lost in a novel. It allows me to disconnect from the digital world and wind down after an overstimulating day. After a few chapters I’m calmer, more centered, and usually ready for bed!
I like to switch off between a self-care book and a novel. I’m currently reading Touch by Courtney Maum and Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. I definitely recommend the latter if you’re figuring out what you want to make of your life!
I just recently started journaling, and I highly recommend it. I write down my goals, what I love about myself, what I want to better about myself, my to-do list, anything that’s bothering me, future plans, what’s stressing me out, and inspirational thoughts and quotes. If I’m upset about something, I’ll write it down, write how I’m feeling, and then really dig deep to figure out a solution. Journaling encourages soul searching, which helps us really understand who we are, what we want, and what we have to offer.
You are in control of your life. You decide how you want to live it. You decide what matters most. There is no such thing as a “stress-free life,” but learning to cope and overcome daily stresses puts us in control.
Don’t stress about the future; focus on the present and what you’re physically able to do. Harbor the energy you waste stressing and put it towards bettering yourself and achieving your goals.
Cheers to living your best life!