We live in a world where pressures in our career, family, and self collide. We frequently feel like the world is spinning out of control and there’s never enough time to finish our to-do list. We schedule happy hours weeks in advance. A vacation is spent checking in so we don’t have to play catch up. There are so many notifications through Facebook, email, text, and Instagram that we don’t even know where to begin. Does the thought of this make your stress level go up just a notch?
It’s no secret that these daily demands cause daily stress… And stress is one nasty enemy.
Long-term stress – and the subsequent overexposure of stress hormones – can disrupt almost all of your body’s processes. It can contribute to anxiety, depression, heart disease, sleep problems, weight gain, and many more icky things you don’t want. Plus, it’s just not fun.
So in the midst of the crazy, how do we find time to manage the stress?
Here are 7 simple things you can practice daily when stress creeps in or it’s going to be “one of those days.” Some take less than a minute.
1. Breathe deeply: Stop. Close your eyes. Take 5 deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Of course, the more the merrier, but even as little as 5 deep breaths can stop a stressful moment from spinning out of control. For extra stress relief, put a dab of essential oils on your wrist and breathe in. Peppermint is a personal fav.
2. Move your body: Sitting at a desk 8 hours a day or more can certainly wear on you. If you are skipping exercise because you’re too busy, try quick fixes. Take a 5 minute midday walk at work. Get out of your chair every half hour to do some quick stretching. I recently discovered Yoga With Adriene, which posts free, online yoga videos that are between fifteen and thirty minutes. I’ve been doing her 30 Days of Yoga challenge and it’s tremendously helped me get physical everyday.
3. Relax your shoulders: You may notice your shoulders rising up during a stressful day. Be aware of the sensation, and remind yourself to bring your shoulders back and down. Move your head side to side and up and down to release tension. Also, try rolling your head to loosen neck and shoulder muscles.
4. Organize your lists: We have a million things to do and it’s not reasonable for us to remember it all. I use a free app called Wunderlist, which allows you to easily categorize your to-do items, put it on a calendar, and rearrange so you don’t miss a beat. The app and desktop versions communicate and it even makes a fun “ping” noise when you check something off. I’ll take the small wins.
5. Laugh out loud: Good luck laughing on cue, but find what makes you smile and YouTube if for a “3 minute laugh-break”. Barking donkeys? Laughing babies? Roomba kitties? Oh the joy of YouTube. Beware: this is also an easy way to waste half an hour.
6. Turn off your phone: Put it on silent, turn it over, do whatever it takes. Give yourself a break, even if it’s only half an hour. Remove the anticipation of getting a new text, email or call and notice your automatic calm feeling.
7. Focus on the good: No matter what craziness you have in your life in a week, day, or single moment, there’s always something positive to make note of. Grab a journal (or even a sticky note on your desk) and jot down 5 things you are grateful for.
It’s rare to find a woman who doesn’t feel daily stress. If you find her, latch on! She’s doing something right and she’s most likely one smart cookie.
How do you keep daily stress under control?