20 Ways to Chill Out and Help Stop Stress
It's been proven that exercise eases anxiety and depression, but some days require a little something extra. Here are some healthy habits that will help you keep calm and carry on during those super stressful days.
Reclaim Your Commute
A crazy morning can change the way you look at your whole day. Whether you listen to relaxing music or let go of whatever happened at home, making the conscious effort to make your commute meditative can help you embrace the day — regardless of what pops up.
Meditate in the Morning
Setting a strong and powerful intention for the day during a morning meditation will kick your day off in a positive light. Before you start going through your laundry list of obligations, taking a few minutes for yourself can make a big difference in your stress levels.
Hang in the Tub
Relaxing on your own in the tub is one of the easiest ways to take a little time for yourself and let go. The next time you're at the market, be sure to buy some Epsom salts. Adding two cups to the tub will help you detox your system and get a better night's sleep. In the words of Sylvia Plath, "There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them."
If you've been dealing with chronic pain you just can't kick, acupuncture may be the help you've been searching for. The ancient Chinese medicine attempts to allow your body's qi, or vital life force, to flow freely without any obstructions. Many individuals leave acupuncture feeling relaxed and calm but still alert.
Fight Stress With Food
Instead of reaching for junk that will leave you feeling unsatisfied and more likely to crash, reach for healthy foods that fight stress like oranges loaded with vitamin C.
Stretch at Your Desk
When you're sitting at a desk for hours on end, the tightness or unnecessary tension that lives in your neck and shoulders can really rear its head. Taking a few moments to relieve your body with stretches you can do at your desk will give you a boost of energy and definite relief.
Go For a Float
It may seem a little extreme, but going to a float tank, also known as a sensory deprivation tank, truly forces you to relax. A soothing dark bath, sans any outside influences, brings your brain to the theta state — the frequency it experiences just before going to sleep.
A warming, soothing cup of hot tea is one of the oldest tricks in the book for relaxation. But instead of just grabbing your tea on the go, take the time to sit and enjoy a few minutes of solitude. Turning this into a daily ritual will help you keep a relaxed outlook.
Get a Massage
Scheduling a luxurious massage for yourself gives your muscles some love and your head a break. Once you lie down on the table, do your best to stay present in the room instead of worrying about everything you have to do once you leave.
Think Yoga in the Car
Your yoga mind can go far off the mat and into the driver's seat! Loosening up your grip on the wheel and engaging your core are two of the yoga tips for driving to take from La Jolla, CA-based yoga teacher Jeanie Carlstead.
A calming scent like lavender can boost your mood and help you calm down. But there's no need to go crazy with loads of lotion or spray. Add a little lavender essential oil to a diffuser or light a candle to let the scent enter the room softly.
Not only does laughing lead to fun, it soothes tension in your body and relieves your initially stressed-out response on the spot. But the long-term benefits have been proven too: laughter can improve your immune system!
Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation
For those who are particularly wound up, practicing progressive muscle relaxation may help you out — especially with the holidays coming up! The basic concept is that when you focus on the difference between muscle tension and relaxation, you become more aware of physical sensations.
Make Time For Yoga
Need a breather? A beginner-friendly relaxing yoga sequence will relax muscles, release tension, and help get your head in a happier place. Just 20 minutes is all that you need to revitalize your body through yoga.
Call Your Mom
When you're feeling overwhelmed, phone home. Studies have shown that even over the phone a mother's voice can soothe your stress. If calling mom is not an option or she stresses you out even more, call a close girlfriend for a little TLC.
Thanksgiving is on the horizon, but it's no reason to leave gratitude out of the equation until it's time for turkey. Taking the time to make a gratitude list will have you focusing on all the good and positive things you have to celebrate. You don't have to email it out every day or even share it. Keeping a daily gratitude journal for your eyes only will help you calm down and count your blessings.
Don't Put It Off
According to clinical psychologist Dr. Michael Friedman, dealing with stress boils down to two steps: "understanding and action." Once you know what's contributing to your agitation, ask yourself, "How am I going to deal with this?" From there, take direct action. Once you start feeling more in control and proactive about what's bugging you, your stress will begin to dissipate naturally.
If you ever find yourself in the midst of a panicked or stressed moment, then check in with your breathing. If it feels shallow or strained, then try a few big and deep diaphragmatic breaths. This breathing technique rapidly and effectively busts stress.
Don't Hit Snooze
That extra 10 minutes of sleep makes no significant difference in your level of energy throughout the day, but when you're running late and feeling harried, everything from making breakfast to getting your purse together seems strangely taxing. Wake up when you say you're going to wake up, and start your morning out with a calm mind.