In today’s fast-paced and competitive world, stress management is more important than ever. Stress can wear your body and mind down faster than any physical labor. Taking a minute to take care of yourself and find a way to relax can make all the difference in the world. Today I want to share my best stress relief tips with you.
Years of dealing with chronic anxiety has taught me a lot about stress management. It’s hard to live the life you want if you’re constantly stressed. It wears out your body and your spirit. Of course, the ideal way to handle stress is to remove the stressor, but that’s not always an option. For those of us who don’t have that choice, here are ten ways that I deal with stress on a regular basis.
1. Take a Bath/Shower
In general, taking a bath or shower is great for relaxation. Being in warm water helps your muscles relax. I tend to hold stress in my shoulders and upper back, but taking a long bath helps release the tension after a long day.
If you’re a bath person, get out some candles and a book. Play some soft music. Lock the door so your kids/spouse won’t bother you. Use some bubble bath. Try not to be on your phone. Turn off every distraction and just focus on yourself. If you’re a shower person, break out some sugar scrub. Wash your hair. Turn on some upbeat music.
I find baths are better for end-of-day stress relief, whereas showers tend to be better for morning/mid-day. Baths are more relaxing and will help you sleep better. Showers are more invigorating and tend to wake you up. It really depends on what you’re hoping to get out it. Either way, both are great ways to relief stress and tension!
2. Essential Oils for Stress Management
I am not one of those people who thinks essential oils and natural remedies can cure any disease known to man. However, I grew up using essential oils to help with headaches, runny noses, and car sickness. They do have their uses, and they do work.
When I am stressed or feeling overwhelmed, I usually dig out my diffuser. Good oils to have on hand for stress relief are lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint, cedarwood, orange, and lemongrass. Lavender is good if you’re having trouble sleeping. Peppermint will help with headaches. Orange and lemongrass are great to wake up and get motivated. Cedarwood can help you stay calm. Eucalyptus is great for congestion. My favorite Stress-Away blend is lavender, orange, and cedarwood; my favorite Sleepy-Time blend is lavender and cedarwood.
One of my friends gave me an awesome essential oil bubble bath and lotion at my bridal shower. It’s a eucalyptus and spearmint blend, specifically made for stress relief, and it smells amazing. I went through almost half the bottle of bubble bath in the months leading up to the wedding.
3. Leave the House
Okay introverts, I’ve got some bad news. Staying in the house all the time is really bad for your mental and emotional health. You have to get out at least a little bit. And work does not count, so don’t even try that excuse. The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to socialize.
When I’m stressed, I like to go hang out at my local bookstore. Or sometimes I’ll take a book to a coffee shop. If you don’t want to go anywhere, even a ten minute walk around your neighborhood can be extremely stress relieving. In the winter, I like to just go on drives, turn on the radio, and sing at the top of my lungs.
No matter how you do it, just try to get out of the house every day. Your psyche will thank you.
4. De-Stress with Yoga
I used to make fun of my sister for doing yoga when we were in our mid-teens. When I called her a couple weeks ago to tell her I was starting to do yoga every day when I got home from work, she just laughed and laughed.
But seriously, yoga can be very stress relieving. It allows you to spend some time just concentrating on your body and its muscles, focusing completely on how you feel in the moment. I’ll turn on a YouTube video and just follow it through. By the time I’m done, I’m slightly exhausted, but I also feel much happier and more relaxed than when I started.
Yoga with Adriene is a great channel for yoga videos. I like her videos because they vary widely in difficulty level and video length, meaning there’s always something to suit what I’m up for on any given day. If you’re not really a yoga person, Blogilates is a great channel for simple workouts and stretching routines. Cassie’s video on bedtime stretches is one of my favorites, and I try to do the routine every evening.
5. Bake Something
One of the ways I like to de-stress is making cookies or some other thing that’s easy to bake. I think this helps me de-stress because baking is something that predictable and something I’m (relatively) good at. Sugar cookies are one of my favorite things to make when I’m stressed.
If baking isn’t your thing, find another activity that requires your complete attention. Crosswords and Sudoku puzzles are great ways to de-stress. I have an awesome Sudoku game called Colorku that helps me calm down when I’m feeling overwhelmed. It’s basically a Sudoku puzzle but with colors instead of numbers.
Crafting is another great activity, whether its scrapbooking, sewing, crocheting, or soap making. Just find something you enjoy to distract you for a while. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, sometimes you just need a familiar activity to help you refocus.
As a Christian, one of the best ways to deal with stress is to pray about it. Sometimes we just need someone to listen to us. God is always there to do that. Take some time to remind yourself that God is in control of everything and that no matter what happens He will be there for you. Go into a bedroom, shut the door, and just pray aloud for a while. You might be surprised at how much better it makes you feel.
For those of you that are not Christians, journaling and meditating work well for this as well. Just take some time to think or write about how you’re feeling. Sort through the things that are stressing you out and remember that in the end everything will turn out alright.
7. Chew a Piece of Gum
Chewing is scientifically shown to help with stress and anxiety. If you’re interested in reading it, here’s an actual study from 2008 showing this. It’s quite interesting. If you’re in a stressful situation, and none of these other stress management ideas are realistic for you, gum is a great on-the-spot solution. My only suggestion is to try to buy sugar-free gum if you’re going to be chewing it regularly–regularly chewing Juicy Fruit can do a number on your teeth.
8. Go Electronics Free
When we get stressed or overwhelmed we sometimes have a tendency to turn on the tv or pull out our phones and zone out. If done occasionally, this is alright, but it really isn’t going to do us any favors in the end. Wasting time online or watching tv can actually raise your stress and anxiety levels in the long run.
Being on our phones constantly does one of two things. The first is that we are avoiding things we need to do or think about. Using electronics as a distraction is not a long term solution, and we often feel more stressed when we end up finally turning them off. If we’re not distracting ourselves, then we’re working. And working is great, but if you need to de-stress, sometimes you need to turn off your phone for a while.
Computer, phone, and TV screens will reduce your quality of sleep as well. If you’re having trouble sleeping, maybe try reading or stretching before bed rather than watching TV or scrolling through your Instagram feed.
9. Turn on Some Stress Relieving Music
What qualifies as stress-relieving music? Pretty much anything. If it makes you happy, then listen to it. Luke and I are music lovers and almost always have on some sort of music. If it’s toward the end of the day, we’ll play softer songs. In the mornings we like to listen to hymns and Christian music. I like to play upbeat dance songs while I clean or blog.
One of the most stress relieving things for me is turning on loud music and singing at the top of my lungs. Even if it sounds horrible it’s a great way to blow off steam. If I’m really frustrated with someone, I’ll play break-up songs till I feel better.
The important thing is just to find some music that makes you feel good!
There’s a reason people say laughter is the best medicine. Laughter releases feel-good hormones in your body, and it is honestly one of the best stress relievers that there is. When I’m stressed, I like to pull up John Mulaney videos and just laugh till I feel better. Here’s some videos to get you started–just remember, don’t waste too much time on electronics!
What are some of your favorite ways to de-stress? Do you have a favorite video that makes you laugh every time? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
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Until next week!
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