We all deal with stress in our lives. At times, it can be overwhelming. Over the years, I have found that a few simple acts can help my stress levels significantly. I have compiled a list of 10 (free!) ways to De-Stress. I have chosen free ways because not everyone has the money to spend on themselves and this is a minimalist blog. I don't want to have to spend money or accumulate more stuff in order to feel better.
1.) Spend time in nature.
Go for a walk. Admire some flowers. Check out a local park. Try bird watching. Admire a sunset. (Or sunrise if you get up that early!) Nature is renewing and good for the soul. I always feel better after I have spent some time reconnecting with the earth. It is nice to spend time admiring beauty and knowing that we are part of something magnificent.
2.) Laugh. A few years ago, I went to be trained as a Certified Laughter Leader. Laughter is so important to our mental and physical well-being. Unfortunately, a lot of us don't laugh enough. There are two types of laughter: spontaneous and deliberate. Spontaneous laughter occurs when something funny occurs, prompting us to bust a gut. Deliberate laughter is what I am trained to lead. It is the act of laughing as an exercise. I learned different exercises to help people laugh. The easiest way is to simply sit on the floor with your hands on your tummy. Do a full belly laugh. You should be able to feel your stomach muscles moving. The amazing thing about laughter is that your body doesn't know the difference between spontaneous laughter and deliberate laughter. Your health benefits are the same. You may feel a little silly, but this will make you feel lighter and happier.
3.) Deep Breathing.
This is fantastic if you don't have much time to spend de-stressing. I used this at work all. the. time. Health care can be fast paced and stressful. This was an easy way to help me combat my stress. Inhale deeply through your nose. You should feel your ribs and tummy expand. Slowly exhale through your mouth. Repeat 2-3 times. It really helps! I usually envision the air going in all the way to my toes and then back out.
Go for a walk, run or a bike ride. Swim, hike, dance or do some yoga. Do some squats or push-ups. Exercise releases endorphins and get the blood pumping. This can help greatly when dealing with stress.
5.) Call a friend.
Sometimes we need to vent and sometimes we don't want to talk about it. Either way, calling a friend is a good thing to do. Our friendships offer us support, love and a safe place to land. They can also offer distraction, camaraderie and laughter. Your friends love you and want to help. Pick up the phone.
6.) Grab a form of escapism.
Dive into a mystery novel, enjoy a romantic comedy or tune into America's Funniest Home Videos. Sometimes we want a distraction and escapism is a wonderful way to do this.
7.) Pet your pooch. (Or your cat!)
Studies have proven that pet owners are happier and live longer lives. Our pets love us unconditionally. They don't care if we burn dinner, if our hair is frizzy or if our breath stinks. (God bless them!) Spend some time snuggling, throwing the ball (or mouse toy) and enjoy the love your pet has to offer. If you don't have a pet, you could check with your local pet shelter and see if they have volunteers come spend time with the animals. Many shelters do this. You can help lift the spirits of an animal, while lifting your own.
8.) Take a bath/ paint your nails/ pamper yourself! As women, we often spend our time taking care of those around us. Unfortunately, we often neglect ourselves in the process! Take 20 minutes and indulge in a bubble bath. Paint your nails. Spend time doing something that makes you feel great. Take care of you!
9.) Start a gratitude journal.
When things seem to be going wrong, gratitude can help us shift our attitudes. There is always something to be grateful for. Take time daily to jot down 5-10 things that you are grateful for in your life. This act can transform the way you view your life. Looking for the positives will buoy your spirits and will help you to see all of your blessings.
Go outside of yourself and do some good in your community. Volunteering is a wonderful way to take your focus off of you. It is important to remember that we are part of something much larger than ourselves and we have a responsibility to help our fellow man. You will meet new people, experience teamwork and help improve the lives of others. Serve at a soup kitchen. Work for Habitat For Humanity. Become a Big Brother or Sister. There are voids to be filled in every community and if you are willing to lend your time, someone will surely be thankful for your help.
These are the ways that I combat stress. What works for you?