When I have a lot on my plate, I often find it difficult to prioritize simple practices that will help to lower my stress levels and boost my mood. Can you relate? Ironically, when I do make the time these practices actually help me be more effective in getting done what needs to be done.
Here are 5 ideas to effectively manage your stress that can easily fit into your daily routine — not just when you're stressed but also when you're calm, which will sustain your low stress levels longer — turning the practices into a regular habit.
1. Take 5 consecutive deep breaths, at least 5 times per day.
Sometimes when we're stressed or really focused on a task we forget to breathe deeply, which makes our bodies tense up and denies our brains the oxygen required to function optimally.
Pause what you're doing 5 times throughout the day, close your eyes, and take 5 long, slow and deep breaths, exhaling out your mouth as loudly as you need to in order to ease stress and relax your body. Notice how you feel afterward. Are you feeling more calm and refreshed?
2. Avoid checking emails or social media until after breakfast.
Have a habit of opening up Instagram as soon as you turn your alarm off? Time to kill that habit! Waiting to check all your apps and communications until after you've had time to eat breakfast is a game-changer. This will give your mind and body the time and space to wake up slowly and naturally, just being present with your surroundings and your feelings — as opposed to being bombarded with the day's to do's and updates immediately and setting a go-go-go mentality for your day.
3. Start your day with a quick meditation.
Keep in mind that meditation doesn't have to look like sitting cross legged on a cushion in silence or with a stranger's smooth voice telling you to relax. Meditation for you is any practice or task that puts you in a meditative or flow state, resulting in a calmer mind and body. This could be drawing, reading, journaling, yoga stretches, going for a walk, cuddling with your pet... or it could look exactly like sitting cross legged on a cushion with a stranger's smooth voice telling you to relax. To each their own and whatever gets the job done!
4. Add in a few minutes of quick bursts of cardio.
Once you start to feel really awake in the morning, bust into a few minutes of cardio like jumping jacks or dancing. Do so again mid-morning and mid-afternoon to keep your heart rate moderately elevated and keep your body and mind feeling energized. This is especially important if you have a sedentary job.
5. Do some simple stretching to gentle music before bed.
Roll out a yoga mat or blanket, dim the lights and stretch! This is a great way to release tension (physical and mental) that has built up throughout the day and get your body and your brain ready for sleep mode. You can do any stretches that feel good to you based on where in your body you have tension, or if you don't know where to start try looking for a short bedtime stretch routine video on YouTube. Namaste!
Have any other practices that have helped you manage your stress? I'd love to hear them! Please share them in the comments.
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