10 Free Ways to Instantly De-Stress
When everything in your life seems chaotic and you’ve come uncentered, when you’re overwhelmed from the simplest of tasks, or when nothing seems to work right, stop what you’re doing. Here’s some good news: there’s a fix! As we all know and quite possibly have spent years learning, the only thing we can control is ourselves. When you’re ready, ask yourself, “What can I do at this moment to find my center?” Here are ten free and quick ways to de-stress:
Meditate: If you have ten minutes and are in a distraction free area, grab a pillow, set a timer, sit cross-legged, rest your hands on your knees palms up and close your eyes. Even if you’ve never meditated before or have tried on occasion, simply going through the motions is good enough. By focusing solely on your breathing your mind will slow down. Allow the thoughts come in, “honor them” which means they’re yours and it’s okay to have them whatever they are, and then let them go. With any luck, you’ll get your brain off line for a few minutes and be refreshed.
Set a goal: Make it a SMART goal. This means, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Bound. Find one thing you’re not doing that you know you should be and focus on getting it done. This will take your mind off the other overwhelming issues in your life (that are going to be there whether you worry about them or not, so don’t.) It will give you a new sense of purpose which can be energizing. And as you make progress, it will increase your dopamine level so that you will naturally feel happier having accomplished something.
Know your boundaries: Is it draining you? Keep this question as a rule of thumb when deciding if you need to address your boundaries with someone. If you’re not feeling good about yourself in a situation, if you’re constantly asking people for their opinion involving a problem, or if someone leaves you feeling anxious, take it as a sign that it’s time to reassess and recognize your limits. If it’s not making your heart sing, move on.
Check your diet: Food is the only control we have over our bodies. Even with plenty of exercise if your diet isn’t right your body could be working against you. I thought my diet was bulletproof but after a consultation with an expert I learned I was wrong. Sugar was making me anxious, wine was forcing my system into overtime fighting allergens, hence my red eyes and sneezing, and gluten made my joints ache. After a week-long elimination diet, I saw immediate results. I felt calm and energetic and I slept better. It’s been so long since I felt that way I thought my aches and pains were normal. I didn’t realize I had the power to get it back.
Exercise: Everyone knows they need to exercise to stay healthy. That they do it is another issue. If for no other reason to exercise regularly, when you’re in extreme stress mode you can throw on a pair of sneakers and get out there for a half an hour. It will change your outlook on the day. I regularly go for power walks at lunchtime at work. I can do this because I also exercise every morning. Never underestimate the power of movement.
Take a nap: Are you getting enough sleep? This should be the first thing you ask yourself. Sleep deprivation impacts many areas including emotional stability, memory, heath, eyes and skin, to name a few. Taking a nap of 20-30 minutes will give you a quick boost and help with performance. If you’ve been sleeping poorly, give yourself a break and let your mood dissipate on its own. Make it a goal to get back into a regular nighttime routine and get rid of any distractions, such as relocating your cell phone from the nightstand to another room.
Write: Journaling, or writing your thoughts on paper, is great free therapy. It helps to organize your thoughts, moves them from your head onto something tangible, allows for creativity, and validates your feelings. There aren’t any rules on this. When the mood strikes write a few words or whole pages, draw pictures, create collages, collect cartoons, list helpful websites, use the speaker on your phone to record a note, buy a book to write in, or keep a file on your laptop. It all works.
Be entertained: If you have an hour or two go for some commercial free distraction. Reading someone else’s story, either real or fiction, will take your mind off your own story. Movies have the power of visual transformation. Music keeps you in the present moment. Go to a local sports game and cheer for your team. A trip to a museum or art gallery can stimulate the mind and recharge it. Nature, the beach, woods, or a simple walk outside can help you feel grounded.
Find a friend or a pet: Short of an emergency visit with a shrink, talking to someone or something you trust will help keep you feeling connected. (Maybe not Siri on your iPhone but who’s to say?) Simply putting your thoughts “out there” to someone can provide comfort and ease your mind. In addition, humans have a basic need for touch and meeting this by hugging or petting a dog can quickly reduce stress.
Pick up your knitting needles: Hobbies are great distractions that have multiple benefits such as staying in the present moment while you focus, inherently setting a goal to finish a project, and keeping your mind occupied with steps and actions. Nothing can get you in “the zone” faster than working on a project you enjoy.