Let’s face it – we all could use a bit of help in the ‘stress’ department. Life just seems to never run out of frustrating and anxiety-inducing situations. That’s where having a good self-care ritual comes in handy.
What’s that? You don’t have a good self-care ritual? Well, today’s your lucky day my friend! Check out this list of 8 really simple activities that will help put the focus back on YOU when stress tries to hog center stage.
#1 – Meditate Mindfully
Did you know that mindful meditation alters your DNA? Don’t worry – the change is a good one. You see, with time, mindful meditation actually improves your body’s ability to recover from stressful events while also reducing your stress response in the present moment.
Here’s how to meditate in 4 steps from Mindful.org:
- Breathe deeply. As you breathe in and out, repeat the words ‘inhale’ and ‘exhale’ in your mind.
- Concentrate. Focus on distinguishing between the sensations brought on by inhaling and those produced by exhaling.
- Become aware of your body. As you continue to breathe deeply, mentally repeat the words ‘I am aware of my body.’ Repeat this until you feel like you’re fully in the present moment.
- Release tension. Now that you’re aware of your body, you should be able to notice the tension, pain and stress in it. Let your body relax. Allow your shoulders to drop if you’ve been clenching them.
#2 – Get Out In Nature
Research has consistently shown that nature is one of the most potent stress-relievers on the planet. According to Dr. Melissa Lem, this connection comes due to the more subdued environment you can find in nature.
“Busy urban environments make focusing more difficult, causing fatigue and irritability,” Dr. Lem says. “Nature lets the conscious brain rest, replenishing your powers of attention and lowering anxiety.”
All you need, according to one study, is just 30 minutes of walking in nature per week. Although, let’s face it, you can do better than 30 minutes.
#3 – Practice Aromatherapy
Looking for something a bit more tantalizing to inhale deeply than just plain, regular air? Aromatherapy might be for you!
According to Dr. Marylnn Wei, aromatherapy allows the beneficial compounds in whatever essential oil you’re using to turn on your parasympathetic nervous system. This, in turn, relaxes you.
Dr. Wei recommends these essential oils for stress relief:
#4 – Hug Someone
When you hug someone, your brain releases a hormone called oxytocin. This even works when you hug a total stranger – although, I’d be careful. It’s a crazy world. Anyways, back to oxytocin. This super cool hormone makes you feel less stressed by triggering a healthy dopamine release.
It’s really simple. All you’ve gotta do is – well, hug someone. Even your teddy bear will do.
#5 – Get Some Exercise
This, right here, is my stress-reliever of choice. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise relieves stress in a number of ways. It pumps you up on endorphins, increases your mood and pulls you into the present moment similar to the way meditation works.
You’ve got a bit of leeway when it comes to the type of exercise you do; there’s no need to pump iron if that’s not your thing. Walking, stair climbing, bicycling or even gardening (think squats) – those are all great ways to exercise that will put a damper on your stress.
#6 – Get A Massage
According to a study published in the Journal of Pain, getting a massage can take care of pain, induce muscle relaxation and improve mood.
Massages work by decreasing your body’s level of cortisol – which experts dub the ‘stress hormone.’ See if your employment benefits include a yearly allocation of funds for a massage. I know several people who didn’t even know they were covered until they looked at their company’s package.
If you’re not covered, ask your partner to give you a massage. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy – just some rubbing with lavender essential oil will do the trick.
#7 – Jump In An Epsom Salt Bath
Epsom salt contains a healthy helping of magnesium, which promotes a calm, relaxed feeling. Your skin very easily absorbs magnesium, making a bath in water with the stuff a great way to get your fix.
WebMD recommends using 1 to 2 cups of Epsom salt for an average sized bathtub.
#8 – Be A Child For A Few Hours
Childhood seems incredibly stressful when you’re living in it. Fitting in with the cool kids, catching (and keeping) your crush’s attention – it all gets to you.
When you’re an adult, though, those things seem very trivial. You wish you could just go right back to being a kid again.
Wait, why don’t you?
I’m not suggesting you hop in a time machine or anything. But why not dedicate some time to watching a few episodes of a show you really enjoyed as a kid? How about grabbing some crayons and drawing a picture during your lunch break? You might be surprised to see how much you enjoy it!
Want to learn more about stress relief? Check out this fun video from the Health Nerd!