Between work demands, home responsibilities, constant digital connection, and everything else going on in the world, stress is an inevitable part of our lives.
While we can’t just flip a switch and be immune to stress, we do have control over how much we let it affect us.
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The truth is if you leave stress unchecked, you’re more likely to feel run down and it can even lead to disease. That’s why stress management is an important part of a healthy and happy lifestyle (April also happens to be National Stress Awareness Month!)
To show up as the best version of yourself, you have to learn to arm yourself with the tools you need to work through stress and not against it.
Here are 12 mind, body and soul ideas that will help you relax and relieve stress fast.
Take a few minutes to Meditate
I know it sounds woo-woo, but there’s so much power in intentionally shutting down your mind for at least a few minutes every day.
Some of the most successful people swear by daily meditation, including Steve Jobs, Ellen DeGeneres, and Oprah Winfrey.
When you meditate you’re giving your brain a break from the constant stimulus allowing you to think clearer and feel calmer.
You don’t have to meditate for long either. Try starting with 2 minutes, then 5 and go from there. Just like anything, it takes practice and you should start small.
If you’re a beginner, here’s a great article from Zen Habits on how to get started with meditation >>>
Repeat an empowering affirmation or mantra
When you’re stressed you’re probably thinking thoughts that aren’t serving you. We know our thoughts have a huge impact on how we feel so to make sure that you’re not making things worse, try using that energy to create positive thoughts.
I find it helpful to create a list or print out a few of my favorite affirmations and place them somewhere visible where I often get stressed, like at my desk. Here are some of my favorites for when I’m feeling overwhelmed:
- I am at peace.
- All is well.
- This too shall pass.
- I am in control of my emotions and right now I choose happiness.
Read this next: How to Practice Positive Self-Talk to Feel Happy and Confident
Clear your space
Let’s be real, in college my room was always a big ol’ mess. But now, I’m a big advocate for a tidy space because I saw a huge a difference in how I feel when I became more organized.
Every night I take at least 10 minutes to clear the clutter around the areas that I spend most of my time at: my desk, my nightstand, the bathroom, and kitchen. It’s no fun waking up to a messy house and feeling the stress creep in.
If you find yourself stressed, check your environment. Are you surrounded by clutter? Do you have 5 minutes right now to tidy up?
You’ll see that making it a point to keep your space organized will help take the load off and relieve stress fast.
Visualize yourself with no worries
Make yourself comfortable wherever you are, close your eyes, and picture yourself in your happy place. Set yourself up in a peaceful scene where you have no worries in the world.
Whether that’s at a future vacation spot, your backyard, or surrounded by your friends, guide your mind to a more positive space.
Another powerful way to relieve stress fast and enter a more calm state of mind is to visualize yourself having a smooth rest of your day.
Imagine this: You’re not stressed, you’re in good spirits, you finish all your work on time, your boss compliments you, you have a stimulating conversation with your coworkers, you make another sale, and may even leave work early.
Instead of letting your thoughts spiral into a negative downward hill, you guide them in a more positive direction that promotes relaxation.
Find something warm
Heat naturally relaxes us. That’s why opting for something warm when you’re stressed will comfort you and relieve the tension you’re holding.
Whether it’s tea, coffee, or a warm bath, your body can easily find relaxation when presented with a warm stimulant. A lot of people reach for a warm drink in the morning because it just feels darn good. Your muscles relax and you enter a state of calm.
Opt for something warm next time you’re stressed and see how it helps you unwind and destress.
Release body tension
When you’re stressed, your whole body tenses up. Try being mindful of this and actively relaxing every part of your body.
Common parts of the body that tend to hold a lot of stress include the jaw, hands, shoulders, back, and neck. When you release the stress from each body part, picture all the negative emotions leaving each area.
It’s also helpful to give yourself reminders throughout the day to stay aware of your posture. If you sit at a computer all day set a reminder to unclench your jaw, push your shoulders back, and relax your arms. You’ll see how much lighter your body will feel.
I have a love affair with yoga. Once I got into it, I questioned how I ever did without it. There’s something about stretching every inch of your body combined with controlled breathing that makes it the ultimate stress relief.
It instantly makes you feel more relaxed, grounded and stress-free.
The great thing is that you can reap the benefits with even just 5 minutes of stretching.
Did you know that when you’re stressed your body loses magnesium? Our body needs magnesium to regulate the nervous system so when we’re lacking it, it’s no wonder we feel agitated.
Magnesium naturally helps the body feel less stressed and more relaxed, but most of us don’t get enough of it from what we’re eating. That’s why I’ve recently started taking Natural Vitality’s Natural Calm Anti-Stress powdered drink mix.
After seeing a bunch of people recommend it because of its calming effect, I knew I had to get it. If you’re interested, here’s the the link to purchase.
Say no more often
How many times did you want to say no to something but felt obligated to say yes? Too many times to count, right?
Doing this causes an enormous amount of stress, even when we don’t realize it. The more you say yes without having boundaries, the more things on your plate and the more overwhelmed you’ll feel.
This is something that I’m working on too but I’ve recently been trying to go by this rule: If it’s not a hell yes, then it’s a no. I’ve made it a point to stop saying yes to sh*t I hate.
The thing to remember is that you’re not being rude for saying no. It’s self-care – it’s a way of taking care of yourself and setting limitations because no one else is going to do it for you.
Paying attention to your needs and setting strong boundaries are key steps in stress management.
Practice breathing work
Taking the time to breathe does wonders for your stress levels.
Think about a time that you were extremely stressed and felt anxious. Was your breathing short and shallow or long and deep?
Short breathing is usually a marker of stress, while deep breathing gives us a boost of oxygen and helps calm us down.
- Read this next: How to be Mindful Daily to Slow Down and Simplify Life
When we take a moment to focus on our breathing, we increase our awareness of the present moment, enter a relaxed state of mind, and help subside thoughts that aren’t serving us.
The best part of it is that breathing exercises are easy to learn and you don’t need anything but yourself to take part in it.
Here are some simple and quick breathing exercises you can try >>>
Listen to music that speaks to your soul
Go ahead and bust out the headphones, friends. Listening to music that you love instantly boosts your mood and fuels your brain with all the feel-good signals.
The next time you’re feeling stressed, jam out to your favorite song and really let yourself feel the music. If you’re at work, step outside or go to your car for a few minutes and sing your heart out. Or if you’re more of the sitting back and relaxing type, just tune in and let the stress melt away.
While I love playing music throughout the day, I also enjoy putting on music to do things I don’t fully enjoy doing (dirty dishes, I’m talking to you.)
It makes it feel like way less of a chore and it automatically turns into something that does not stress me out. I also love listening to podcasts but I’ll save that for another blog post 😉
Write down your thoughts
Sometimes letting it out all out on paper is the best thing to do. And it actually makes you feel a whole lot better.
When you feel stressed, your mind is probably a cluttered mess. Journaling out what you feel right now helps to release any negative emotions that you may be holding onto. It can also help you understand the stressors in your life so you can better handle stressful situations the next time around.
Ask yourself, how do I feel right now? What’s causing me stress? Is it worth letting it affect me in this way? What can I do next time to better manage my stress?
Stress indicates that you need to put on the brakes or do something differently, so journaling it out will help you work through it instead of working against it.
Now over to you…what are some things you do to help you relieve stress fast? Let me know in the comments below!