With the way the last year has gone, I can say with great certainty, that there has been more stress in our world. Stress about losing your job, stress about finding a new job, stress about yourself or a loved one catching the virus, stress about making enough money to pay the bills, stress for parents homeschooling, stress for faculty members at school, and most of all stress on the front lines – doctors, nurses, hospitals, and their clean up crews. There is stress all around, and it’s unavoidable at this point. So what can we do to remedy all of this stress? How can we navigate this journey to well being?
There are many, many tried and true methods out there so today I’m going to highlight five of them. Some of them are easy, others may be more difficult, but I’ve specifically chosen these five because they are things I’m currently doing, working on, or need to be working on.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Exercise is an excellent way to reduce stress. When you exercise your body creates and releases endorphins, the feel good hormone, which can make you feel calm, relaxed, and happy. Exercise also reduces the stress hormone, cortisol, when you do it regularly.
Having a good workout routine is essential to reducing stress in the mind. It seems silly that putting stress on our body would relieve stress in our mind, but it works! For a while now, I’ve been doing yoga five days a week. It’s made a huge difference in my life. I’ve noticed when I have a tough emotion or thought I need to work out that yoga helps that process, even better than meditating. How surprising!
Writing down the things that stress you out might be another way to combat stress. All to often, thoughts get tangled up in our minds and we have a hard time sorting them out. By writing them down in a journal you’re able to get everything out and organize your thoughts. You can get to the root of the issue and begin to resolve it.
Start by writing about what is stressing you out. From there, trace it back to the beginning. Where did it all start? How is it making you feel? Where in your body are you feeling these feelings? Do you remember a certain smell or something you saw? Make sure to get as much detail as you can. Purge your body of the stress you’re holding onto and watch it melt away as you swiftly write on your lined paper with your perfect pen.
You can even have a gratitude journal to help reduce stress. Take time every so often, or daily, to write down a few things you’re grateful for. On your stressful days, you can look back and reflect on everything for which you’re grateful.
Learn to say “No”
Learning to say no has been one of the toughest things I’m learning to do. Saying no isn’t being rude or selfish. It’s setting boundaries and letting people know your limits. Saying no to doing something with someone when you have an entire list of things you need to get done is perfectly ok. “No thank you, maybe next time.” And the best part about saying no is you don’t owe anyone an explanation…if you don’t feel like it.
Saying “no” is a very powerful tool we all have in our tool belts but rarely utilize. In today’s society, all too often we’re taught to be “yes” people. To people please. To be selfless. But at what cost? What if we end up losing ourselves in the process? Which is a very real, very possible thing. This is why it’s important to learn to say “no” when necessary. When you’re too busy, too tired, need alone time, or you’re simply just enjoying your own company, it’s perfectly fine to say no.
Deep breathing has saved me on more than one occasion during my journey to well being. From panic attacks to normal everyday stressors, deep breathing has had my back through thick and thin. My favorite breathing exercise is to breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and release the breath for 8 seconds. This slows down the nervous system and allows you to think more clearly. It can also relax you enough to help you fall asleep.
While in a yoga practice the other day, my instructor on YouTube (Adriene), talked about the 4-count box breath she uses in her journey to well being. You breathe in for 4 seconds and out for 4 seconds and repeat until the desired results are reached. She said it was great for anxiety, which rocks, because HELLOOO….ANXIETY CENTRAL UP IN HERE!!! Reduced anxiety ultimately means reduced stress. Awesome.
Listen to soothing Music
Like I wrote about in my last post, music has a profound way of soothing us. Depending on what you’re listening to you can elevate your mood, calm your mood, or keep your mood right where it’s at. Listening to soothing music reduces cortisol in the brain relieving it of stress. Slow, quiet, even wordless music can help reduce stress and create calm in the mind and body. My favorite music to listen to if I need to calm down or focus is Meditative Mind on YouTube.
With music, we’re able to identify our feelings a little more clearly making us able to sort through our emotions and really pinpoint what’s bothering us. If a certain song is making you feel sad, follow that feeling, sit with it for a while, and discover what is truly making you feel sad. If a song is making you feel happy, rejoice in that moment and make a mental note to remember that song for the next time you’re feeling down and out and need a little lift in your mood.
Stress and My Journey to Well Being
Stress is not something I process well. I don’t struggle identifying my stressors, I just have a hard time processing them. On my journey to well being, I’ve noticed that stress reduction has been a very important lesson to learn. It’s one I’m currently working through and making small improvements here and there. One thing I did for myself was start using a planner (Thank you Jamma!) and started planning my weeks out ahead of time. I’m not a huge fan of the unknown so when I have an idea of what my week will look like it takes a little bit of stress off my plate.
I’ve gone through five ways of learning to destress your life, now I’m interested in hearing from our readers. What does stress look like in your daily life? How do you work through it? What are some tips and tricks you’ve learned for managing stress throughout the years?
Thank you for joining me on my journey to well being today.
With light and love,