We aren’t going to write a blog you’ve read a hundred times. You probably already know everything we could say about how to minimize stress. Let’s see if you can guess the top 3 things you can do to minimize stresses effect on your body…and go!
Did you say eat well, get good sleep and exercise? We hear those 3 things so often that we tend to ignore them. It’s sort of like when you are a smoker and someone repeatedly tells you it’s bad for you or when you want to lose weight and everyone wants to give you their version of the “best diet ever”. We’re tired of hearing the same things! It isn’t that we are not listening it’s just that…it’s become so common that we don’t take it seriously.
So, for the sake of those of you who are actually interested in some practical NOW advice on how you can better manage holiday stress, this blog’s for you. We have added some things in this blog you can use today. Right now. The first is an exercise to help you center, become focused and in “come back to calm” the present moment. The second is a list of some outside the box things you can do whenever and as often as you’d like.
In order to do the first exercise you must save this image onto your phone or computer (right click and download) and put it somewhere you can see it often. The goal is to get you to do this little exercise once an hour but if you cannot do that try it after lunch and before bed or whenever you feel you need to relax.
There are 7 words total but treat each box as it were it’s own. After you read a word, close your eyes and visualize each image while repeating the word. You may want to add an “I am” in front of each word. Imagine you are there in each picture…walking on that beach at sunset or on a beautiful, winding path through the woods. Breathe slowly in and out, letting in the peace of the present moment and breathing out the stress or anxiety you currently feel.
That little exercise should take around 5 minutes but it really depends on how much time you are able to give it.
Let’s talk about other options. We’ve compiled a list of super cool things you can do to help with relaxation and stress management. We suggest you try one a day. We also want to challenge you to try the things you find yourself skipping over. Really read them and see what you can apply into your daily routine.
- Change of scenery. Even if you aren’t chained to a desk every day at work you may still get cabin fever doing the same thing over and over each day. You can alleviate some stress and tension by a change of scenery. Walk outside during work hours. Take a new way home. Drive to the beach or some other body of water before or after work.
- Go on a feather walk. Go by yourself or take someone with you. Go look for feathers. Walk around the block or go to the park. Try to draw one. Collect them and put them in a jar or in your “happy box”. See below.
- Do something nice for someone else. This actually works pretty well and gives you the ability to take your mind off things you are stressed out about. I used to work with a sweet woman that used to print sweet little clips or photos with something encouraging written on them from the internet and put them in my box. It was always a surprise and it always made me smile.
- Sit on your porch. I walk around my neighborhood and see such nicely decorated porches but I hardly EVER see people sitting on them! Go sit out on your porch! Smile at your neighbors. Wave to people passing by. Watch the sun go down. Drink a glass of tea or have a glass of wine.
- Take a bath. A long warm bath can do wonders for the body and soul. Add some Epsom Salts and you have a recipe for sweet success! Light some candles. Add some essential oils and get your aromatherapy on. Play some soft music. Lean back and relax.
- Do something impulsive. Decide at 8PM to go out and get some ice cream! Go see a matinee during the week. Attend a painting class or paint some pottery. Changing up your routine can help you feel more energized and hopeful.
- Create a “happy box”. Go on a mission to find a box that you like. I found an old cigar box in an antique store for $3.00! My cigar box goes everywhere I go. When I had an office I kept my “happy box” open and on the corner of my desk. Here’s what I kept in the box: an old key, favorite photos, feathers, rocks I’ve collected from different parks, part of a broken rosary, small things people made me, pieces of things I thought were pretty. I also put stickers on the inside of the box.
- Start an inspiration journal. Anyone can do this. All you need is a journal, scissors and a glue stick. You don’t have to be an artist. All you need to do it cut out things that inspire you and glue them inside your journal. This can be photos or pictures you see in magazines or newspapers. If you’re feeling fancy you can write around the images. What do you like about them? What do they make you think about? How do they make you feel? It’s a great way to express yourself! Bonus points if you buy some markers or color pencils and use those in your journal!
- Plant something. It doesn’t have to be a big garden. Just plant a few seeds and watch them grow. Don’t give me that “I kill everything” excuse. Buy a packet of seeds and follow the instructions. Take some seeds into a field and watch the wind scatter them. The goal is to try. Soil is good for the soul!
- Go to a park. And by park I mean State or National Park. You can try the park down the road if it doesn’t have a playground full of screaming children. When I say park I mean a nice, quiet place where you can plop down on the ground and stare and trees and clouds. Turn it into a routine and call it something like “Thursday Park Day”. #thursdayparkday? I think yes.
- Do a puzzle. Has it been a while since you put a puzzle together? Though challenging they can be relaxing and centering.
- Bake. Baking has a way of putting us in the present moment and making us feel better. Explore new recipes and use all of your senses to lure you into the present moment. Buy a fun new cookbook at a used bookstore and challenge yourself to make something new.
- Mindfully “doodle”. Grab a sheet of paper and a pen. While holding your pen on the paper close your eyes and allow yourself to make 5 figure “8’s”. It’s okay if it isn’t perfect but try to stay on the actual paper. You can use your other hand as a guide. Just trust the process. When you are finished you have your very own color sheet! Add different doodles inside each closed area or add color! Write positive words in each loop.
- Cuddle with your dog or cat…or pig. Studies have shown how petting an animal can lower heart rate and blood pressure. It’s literally good for you to connect with an animal. If you don’t have an animal, get one. Seriously. They’re the best.
- Go for a ride. Roll down your windows while you’re at it. Take a ride down your favorite coast or favorite scenic road. Drive to your favorite park. (If you’re in Jacksonville you seriously need to check out Big Talbot Island State Park on Hecksher Drive)
- Go for a photo walk. Pick a subject and take a purposeful walk in order to photograph your subject. This could be the color red, flowers, trees, sky, old cars, or even animals. Think outside of the box. When you return, create a slideshow or collage with your photos! Bonus if you encourage others to do the same!
- Go to a local coffee shop and color. You’d be surprised how much fun this can be. Explore someplace new, don’t go to the same place you always do. Bonus points if you take a friend.
- Turn on some music. Music that is paced slower than your own heartbeat can actually help you relax. On the other hand, music that has a faster beat can increase your heart rate. For this exercise try some calm, slow music. Music can be a great background if you are cleaning house or journaling.
- Build something. Use the resources you have and build something with them! Whether it be some strange new yard art or your very own fire pit, you can be truly creative with this one. Invite someone to join you!
- Eat an orange. Oranges can help reduce cortisol, the stress hormone. Bonus points if you go outside to do it!
- Use your words. Write it out. Writing isn’t just for poets and teenagers. Adults and teens both can get a lot out of exercising this part of our brain. And by write I mean use an actual writing utensil, not a tablet or a computer. If you don’t own a journal, get creative. You can use a sharpie on some newspaper or on some cut out cardboard.
- Start a blog. Use a free online blog such as WordPress, and write your heart out! Add photos. Share with friends or family you trust and use it as a way to connect with others.
- Open your blinds. Sunlight increases serotonin levels therefore Mother Nature is the ultimate anti-depressant. Open your blinds and *sings* letttttt the sunshine in. Really though. Don’t stay cooped up in the dark, even if you want to. Force yourself to get some sunlight! Bonus if you open those windows and feel the breeze!
- Don’t wait until you retire. So many people wait to have fun until they retire. That’s nice but what happens to every single one of us as we age? Things start to break down. Don’t wait until you turn 55 (or whatever retirement age is these days) to ride off into the sunset. Take trips throughout the year. Plan long weekends. Take a Friday or a Monday off and have a long weekend.
- Don’t wait until the weekend. Plan something special during the week. Go to a museum. Go to an art walk. Go fishing. Go see a movie. Make a nice dinner and invite some friends over. Have a game night.
Do you have any creative ideas about ways to de-stress? Share them with us on our Facebook page or Instagram: Istillmatter Use #minimizingthestigma or #istillmatter