Some of these ways to handle stress may be things that you’ve heard before. I know that I’ve been told a few of these in the past but always laughed them off and thought “how lame” without bothering to try them. I’ve had a ridiculously stressful year which has negatively affected my physical and emotional health. Because of this I’ve been trying EVERY stress reliever I’ve come across and I’d like to share what I found to be the best ways to handle stress with you!
1. Count to 10
This is one of the ways to handle stress that I always rolled my eyes at. I have recently found, however, that giving yourself that 10 seconds of silence before reacting to things you anticipate stressing you out actually helps you respond positively. Whether you feel an argument coming on or your kids are rambunctious and you need a break, close your eyes, count to 10 (or heck, even 20 or 30), open your eyes and deal with the situation at hand in a calm manner. I know you’re probably thinking, “How can that REALLY help," but after a while it really does! It gives you those few extra moments to think before you react and make matters worse.
I’ve started meditating in the morning when I first wake up and also while I’m in bed right before I fall asleep. It really helps to start the morning off right before I become flustered thinking about all of the things I have to get done. It helps to ease into the day. I try to do it for about 10-15 minutes before I climb out of bed in the morning. It is incredible for helping me fall asleep as well! I always have a difficult time falling asleep because my brain never seems to want to turn off and rest. Following a meditation tape (or app on your smartphone) helps you to focus on a soothing sound or voice and relaxes your body and your mind!
I hate exercising. I’m not going to lie and tell you I love it and it makes me feel so good afterwards… I despise it and I will come up with any excuse to get out of it. HOWEVER, I have found that using an exercise ball and doing gentle stretching exercises on it relieves the stress in my body and makes me feel emotionally better. There are, of course, people who DO feel less stressed and happy from the rush of endorphins you get from exercising, I just don’t happen to be one of them.
4. Focus on Your Breathing
If you’re getting stressed out at work, or anywhere else, sit back for a moment, close your eyes and count your breaths. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth while holding each breath for 5 seconds. It’s SO incredibly simple, you can do it absolutely anywhere and it helps relax and refocus you on the task at hand. It’s sort of like a reset button for me.
5. Carry Play-doh with You
This is perhaps the most ridiculous item on my list, but it also helps me a great deal. I carry a canister of Play-doh with me so that when I am pissed off or stressed out, I can take it out and break it apart, mash it together, punch it, knead it…whatever I need to do to make me feel better. You could carry a stress ball, but Play-doh is much more fun and versatile.
I love reading because it helps me to escape into another world. It is escapism and won’t help solve the problem, but sometimes, in order to calm down and really think things through, you need to step away from the issue. I have a really hard time taking my mind off of things enough to cool down, but reading has always been a great way for me to let go of the day's events.
7. Take a Shower
A nice hot shower is fantastic. It helps you think in a soothing, gentle environment… some of my best ideas come to me in the shower. It also helps relax your muscles and ease the tension out of your body. I love to bend down and touch my toes and let the hot water pelt my back while I focus on my breathing when I’m having a super tough day. I could easily take a 2 hour long shower if my hot water would last that long!
I hope these stress reducers help you out as much as they have been helping me. If you have any other ways to handle stress that I haven’t mentioned, I would LOVE to hear them. What’s your absolute favorite stress reliever?