Happy, happy Friday! Friday itself might bring you some stress relief 😉
As promised on Wednesday, today is going to focus on how to manage your stress or better yet…become less stressed!
Let’s begin with two important subjects:
1) Exercise. AHHHH! My favorite subject 😉 Exercise has many benefits for you including stress relief. How does it work? The FEEL BETTER PHENOMENON: is a complex interaction of social + psychobiological factors that come together to improve your psychological state. Exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, stress, + enhance cognition. Complete bonus to all of the physical benefits that I keep sharing. Sure, at first working out might not be your favorite new hobby…but, it is vitally important to your health and you will learn to enjoy it/use it for stress relief.
2) Eat well. We live in a culture that is constantly in a rush and there is probably a fast food joint within 10 minutes of where you are reading this article. Being stressed + time crunched can lead you to make poor dietary choices. However, unhealthy eating + alcohol are stressors for your body. Avoid alcohol and processed food as much as you can.
Exercise + eating well are non-negotiable. These are the KEYS to feeling your best.
Now, let’s talk about a few other strategies:
- Sleep more. Chances are you are skimping you your sleep. DON’T! When I had a normal schedule, I wanted to be in bed by 9:30 or 10pm. My husband would make fun of me, but it helped me to be happier and less stressed the next day. You should implement a bedtime routine that helps you to relax about an hour before you want to get to sleep. It’s time to shut off the TV and quit refreshing your Instagram.
- Cognitive restructuring. You are what you think. Is the voice in your head constantly negative? STOP yourself when you are headed down a negative spiral of thoughts. Take a few deep breaths and then consider the negative thought. Do I really feel like this? Am I letting my negativity spiral out of control? Next, think about how you can restructure the negative thought.
- Social support. Where would we be without our family/friends/significant others?! Social support from positive relationships has been proven to protect your health and well-being. You have to realize who feeds you and gives you positive support and who minimizes your stress or doesn’t listen well. Chances are if you talk to someone that always minimizes it and doesn’t give you the support you were looking for you will just end up more stressed/frustrated. Just a couple weeks ago, I was feeling a lot of stress. I reached out to a couple girlfriends that I’m on a constant group text message with. Here is what it looked like (how awesome are my friends?! The other two chimed in with helpful tips too and I felt 100x better):
- Prioritize fun time too! I’ve had a WONDERFUL two days with friends. Wednesday I spent the whole day at Noah’s Ark and then yesterday I went from volunteer, to lunch with friends, to paddleboarding, to a track workout, to golfing 9 holes with my husband. Talk about amazing off days. There was a blog to be written, piles of laundry in my living room, my half of the sink was full of makeup (sorry husband), and dishes in the sink…but, I knew all of that could wait until TODAY 😉 I wanted to soak in my off days before I head to work for the weekend and I knew these things would make my happy!
- Do things that feed your soul. I cannot tell you how much joy I get from volunteering at Allied Run Club. These underprivileged kiddos fill my heart up and it feels so good to build connections with them. Even when I’m feeling busy and slip into the mindset “I don’t really have 3 extra hours to do this today”…I am always walking away from the program a happier/less stressed person. I’ve told Drew before, thank goodness I went because it always fills me up. Another go to is listening to a sermon online. It’s a great refresher on what is important and always makes me calmer.
- Nurture yourself. You might spend all your time taking care of other people, but what if you need care? Take time for self care. Whether that means reading a book, painting, blogging, taking photographs, cooking, landscaping, laying in a hammock, etc…do it! Make time for it, it is stress relief waiting to happen!
- Get a massage. Soak it in, turn your mind off, just be. A couple massages ago, I literally drooled on the floor because I was so relaxed. It might not be in your budget to do this all the time, but the benefits are clear.
- Deep breathing, guided imagery, mindful meditation. I’m a huge fan of deep breathing. I practice it often when I’m in stressful situations, and I should more mindfully engage in it throughout the day. Find which variety of these relaxation eliciting techniques works best for you and incorporate it. There are plenty of resources online, just put one of these key terms in the search box.
- Avoid stress. Is the most stressful part of your day your commute? Could you leave a half hour earlier or workout after work to avoid the rush hour? Is your stress level a 10 when you have a zillion work emails to catch up on? Could you block off half hour each morning and afternoon to clear up your inbox? Instead of getting stressed about the same things daily, try to figure out solutions.
- Manage your money. Study after study showed Americans are stressed about money. Are you spending too much? Do you have moola in case your car, air conditioner, and garage door break (haha, us last week….)? When I lived in Chicago I was more on the spendy side. Sure I was paying my bills, but I also always had new clothes and freshly manicured nails (okay, that is a fond memory). I didn’t have a huge savings account, and I put myself in some stressful situations. Let me tell you, it feels a lot better to spend less and have more money in savings. Special thanks to my husband, who is our financial guru. Read this post on financial health if you want to hear more.
I hope you picked up a tip or two that you can incorporate into your life to make it a less stressful one.
A huge thank you to the readers of this blog! It takes a lot of work to write it, but it is something that feeds my soul and allows me to channel my creative energy. This blog is STRESS RELIEVING for me. As always, thanks for stopping by and also for all the words of encouragement I receive…it means a ton! Have a healthy and balanced weekend! -Ames