Three Ways to De-Stress
Three Ways to De-Stress
Here’s one thing everyone can certainly agree on -- life can get stressful and overwhelming. It seems as though that stress is especially heightened nowadays with all of the distractions, between real life, social media and technology. Think about it -- our brains weren’t designed to deal with so many different things, so we’re all prone to information overload. Of course we’re going to feel overwhelmed! That’s why it’s important to ultimately stay self-aware as to how you’re feeling mentally and take some time to step back, relax your mind and de-stress. Stepping away from the screen and putting your phone down is an important first step in clearing your mind and relaxing, but continue reading to learn even more ways to de-stress!
1. Check in With Yourself and Prioritize Your Mental Health.
First and foremost, check in with yourself -- how are you feeling in this moment? How are you going to prioritize your mental health? Why might you feel overwhelmed? if you’re feeling overwhelmed due to social media, it’s always important to put technology away and give your mind a rest. When necessary, it’s recommended to take a week long break from Facebook or other apps, as it can reduce stress (but if that’s too overwhelming, start small -- a thirty minute break is better than nothing)!
Whether you’re putting your phone away for 30 minutes (or however long you feel is appropriate -- only you know that!) or deleting apps, make sure that you take the time afterwards to assess how you’re feeling and de-stress (assess and de-stress). Use this time to clear your mind and partake in something that makes you feel happy (click here for 10 Quick Ways to De-Stress) such as journaling, listening to music, breathing exercises, yoga/meditation, going on a jog/exercising, utilizing a creative outlet, participating in your favorite hobbies that are active and beneficial for your brain and body or even simply running a bubble bath and lighting your favorite candle (yes, guys can and should take baths too -- there’s nothing wrong with that)!
Changing up your environment is essential as well; sometimes change is necessary in order to feel better and get out of a funk. Little things like stepping outside to get some fresh air, reading or even taking a shower help more than we realize. We tend to underestimate the power of simply staying still with our thoughts, relaxing and breathing -- familiarizing yourself with simple breathing exercises can make all the difference when it comes to your mental health and stress.
2. Partake in Breathing Exercises and Relaxation Methods
Everyone knows the two front-runners for the ultimate form of relaxing the mind and body -- yoga and meditation. Both serve as distractions from the chaos of life by focusing on how your body and mind feel. We often forget or overlook it if a certain part of our body is tense or if our mind is racing a mile a minute because we’ve grown so accustomed to it. It’s important to take the time to focus on both.
Yoga stretches out the muscles and combines contrived breathing with psychicality through the various poses -- and it helps tremendously with anxiety and stress. Meditation is more centered on solely the mind, your emotional state and finding inner peace through breathing practices, but a lot of people tend to stray away from meditation as they feel overwhelmed by it. It’s important to go in with an open mind and give yourself a break if you’re not some ‘meditation extraordinaire.’ A lot of people perceive meditation as difficult, but it doesn’t have to be -- All you can do (with everything in life) is try your best in that moment. If anything, learning more about meditation serves as a distraction in itself -- that’s better than nothing! Ultimately, meditation is extremely beneficial on your emotional state and finding your inner peace, but if it’s not for you, that’s okay, too.
If you don’t want to try out yoga or meditation just yet and you’re overwhelmed by the idea, no worries! It’s just as beneficial and effective to try out more simple breathing exercises and relaxation methods. These exercises don’t have to be overwhelming -- you can even start simple by simply focusing on your breathing and taking a deep breath in and out.
Breathing is something that comes so naturally and we often forget we’re even doing it, so focusing on it and controlling it can be extremely beneficial. First and foremost, pick a relaxing spot to practice your breathing exercises and let it be a natural process. Wear comfortable clothes and light a few candles around you if you want to. Try to make the exercises more of a routine by doing them at a certain time every day or every other day (maybe once in the morning before you start your day and once at night before bed). Switch up where you’re sitting if you want to -- it’s all up to you!
The amazing thing about breathing exercises is that you can decide how long you want to do them and they typically don’t take long at all. You can decide to do these exercises for a few minutes or for ten minutes; it’s all up to you and what you think your body/mind needs. There are various types of breathing exercises with deep breathing being the most common one. Other methods are breath focus, progressive muscle relaxation, modified lion’s breath, etc. (follow the link above to read more about these particular breathing exercises)!
Let’s move on to relaxation methods specifically used for stress. The link above provides six different relaxation methods from Harvard Medical School in order to help alleviate stress. Stress is unfortunately something we all encounter pretty much daily; stress occurs for many different reasons, some minor and some major. Life is complicated, difficult and a lot of things are completely out of our control, so it’s absolutely essential to learn coping mechanisms so that you can handle how you react to stress in the best ways you can.
The six relaxation techniques listed in the article above are as follows:
1. Breath focus (long and slow deep breaths)
2. Body scan (focusing on one isolated area of the body at a time and correlating the mind with the body)
3. Guided imagery (dream up a relaxing place and use sounds/imagery to imagine yourself there -- ironically enough, technology has provided several calming apps that you can use)
4. Mindfulness meditation (sit comfortably and bring your mind to the present moment without thinking about the past or future)
5. Toga/tai chi/qigong (a series of rhythmic breathing combined with flowing movements that can improve your overall balance and flexibility -- these can be challenging though so be wary of that)
6. Repetitive prayer (repeating a short phrase from a prayer -- or if you’re not religious, try out a phrase from your favorite quote -- while breathing).
Lastly, experts recommend trying out all of these exercises in order to find out which one works best for you. It might feel strange practicing these at first, but the longer you do it, the more benefits you’ll notice.
3. Do Something You Love and Tap Into a Creative Outlet!
Think about the things that you’re passionate about -- the things that light a fire within you. Do you love exercise and going to the gym? How about journaling and writing out your feelings? Do you have a creative side? Do you like listening to music? Find what you love the most and implement more of that into your life. Even if you don’t like writing, journaling has been proven to help reduce stress. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be much of a writer, journaling isn’t about your writing skills; it’s about getting your thoughts out in healthy, effective ways. Oftentimes, when someone writes down their feelings, they learn more and realize things that they otherwise wouldn’t have afterwards.
There are various types of journaling, such as coincidence journaling and gratitude journaling. There are also self-help journals, journals that give you a daily prompt and mindfulness journals, allowing you to think more outside the box and to really address how you’re feeling by finding solutions or simply getting it all out onto paper. Anything that helps you think and grow is incredible. Some journals we recommend are the Calm the Chaos Journal by Nicola Ries Taggart, the Zen as F*ck Journal by Monica Sweeney and the It’s Gonna be Okay Inner Truth Journal by Knock Knock. Guided prompts and daily questions type journals are perfect for those who don’t really know where to start when writing.
Lastly but most importantly, tapping into your creative side has also been shown to help alleviate stress greatly -- being creative, even if that’s not something you’re super into, is so important and helpful. Firstly, set some time aside to listen to some relaxing, calming music (there are so many playlists on Spotify specifically catered for relieving stress)! However, creativity doesn’t only come in the form of music, so if you’re seeking other stress-alleviating creative avenues, then you’re in luck. The article linked above from Coffee With Summer states that taking on a DIY project, baking a yummy dessert, dancing and painting/drawing/coloring are all amazing, creative-based stress relievers.
All in all, stress is a normal part of life, so don’t stress if you are feeling overwhelmed. You’re only human and life is complicated. However, the next time you feel stressed, remind yourself that you are in control of how you react and how your mind feels (and that you are definitely heading in the right direction, considering you’re looking up ways to relieve said stress). All of us here at MadMed wish you the best in reducing stress and we hope that these tools are helpful for you!