7 Ways to Destress
Posted by Kat Stein on April 12, 2018
Whether it be working toward a deadline, juggling a busy schedule, making time for your family, dealing with a crazy work week, or all of the above, we all encounter stress from time to time. Not to mention with Tax Day quickly approaching, we all have a little (or a lot!) added to our already overflowing plates. For the sake of your mental health, physical well-being, your happiness (and the happiness of your friends and family!) it is important to remember to take a few minutes each day to take some deep breathes, quiet your mind, and de stress.
Go for a 10 minute walk
If you’re like me, your first response to taking a walk will be “but I don’t have time for that!!” But guess what – you do! Instead of taking a break during the day to check social media or read your emails, put your phone down and head to the nearest outdoor space. Walking is scientifically proven to help clear the head as well as boost endorphin levels, which in return reduces stress hormones! If you are near a park or another green space, consider taking your walk there. This can put your body in a state of meditation: it holds just enough of your attention that you can enjoy your surroundings while simultaneously emptying your mind and allowing time for reflection without being bombarded by the things that are stressing you out.
Obviously you already breathe all day every day or you wouldn’t be here reading this, but focused, intentional breathing can help calm you down and make your body feel like it does when it’s already relaxed. Try one of these exercises next time you need to take a ‘breather’ (I’m so punny!):
Power 10: This exercise consists of 10 breaths. Inhale, focusing on your stressors and negative feelings. Exhale slowly (for at least 6 seconds) and visualize yourself releasing and letting go of that negativity.
Heart Shifting: In this exercise you will take 15 breaths total, in 3 sets of 5. During the first set, inhale for 4 seconds while focusing on negativity and exhale for 6 while focusing on letting go. During the second set, clear your mind of all thoughts and focus only on the breaths, continuing to inhale for 4 seconds and exhale for 6. During the last set, inhale and exhale for the same amount of time, but choose to focus your mind on the love you have in your heart for someone or something in your life and allow yourself to let go of all negative emotion while exhaling.
Eat a snack
I know what you’re thinking – stress eating is bad. Well, I’m here to tell YOU that while binge eating because your stressed is very bad and should be avoided, eating while stressed can actually help your mood significantly! Healthy eating improves your energy, helps with productivity, and improves your mental health. The most stressful thing for your brain is feeling that your body has run out of nourishment, so reach for a banana (potassium helps reduce stress!), half of an avocado, a handful of nuts, or anything else high in protein and other nutrients, and focus on enjoying your snack. That said, you may also allow yourself to have a treat every now and again (but not all the time!!), because sometime all you need is a little chocolate kiss to help feel better!
Listen to music
As a musician, of course I enjoy listening to music to help myself relax throughout the day, but you don’t have to be musical to use this technique! Classical music has been proven to help reduce stress levels; it soothes, lowers heart rate and blood pressure, and can even reduce levels of stress hormones. If classical isn’t your cup of tea, any music you enjoy can release feel-good chemicals in your brain. Try keeping a pair of headphones handy so you can take a few minutes yourself throughout the day to listen to your favorite song.
Progressive muscle relaxation
As a kid, I often had trouble falling asleep, and one thing that almost always helped me was a trick my mom showed me. Starting at your toes and working all the way up to your face, scrunch up and tense every single muscle in your body. Then after your whole body is tense, slowly start releasing each muscle starting with your face and working your way down. Focus on the feeling of letting each individual muscle release and after you’re done, let yourself sit with your eyes closed for a few minutes to enjoy the relaxed state.
Buy a house plant
House plants help purify the air, but they also help purify your mind! Studies have found that simply being around a house plant can almost immediately reduce levels of stress hormones in your brain. Aloe, ivy, and bamboo have all been found to be notably good plants to help reduce stress but having any plant in your space that you like can help make you feel happy and relaxed!
I know the thought of crafting to a person who thinks they aren’t creative sounds stressful but creating is extremely relaxing and is a common practice in mindfulness. Repetitive motion and sound help distract the brain from intruding thoughts, and instead force your mind to fall into the rhythm of what you’re working on. I always enjoy coloring mandalas when I am especially stressed, and these days there are countless adult coloring books you can buy at almost any book store or online! If you have ever stopped by our booth at the Vancouver Farmer’s Market, I’m sure you’ve noticed that my mom is a big fan of crocheting. This is particularly repetitive form of crafting that not only helps reduce stress but also leaves you with a fun, pretty product!