Stress happens to the best of us, usually at the worst of times. It never seems to hit when we are ready to handle it. Not to worry, there are a few ways to deal with stress, without breaking the bank, or eating up that small fraction of spare time you have. In fact, all of these can be done just a few minutes before going to bed.
Take 5-10 minutes from your day to meditate. You’re probably thinking, “I hate yoga,” or “I don’t have time to stop what I’m doing to meditate,” but wake up 10 minutes earlier, or push your bedtime 10 minutes; begin or end your day with a bit of meditation. It doesn’t mean crazy yoga poses or even having a set idea of what to do. Just take a few minutes to sit in silence.
Herbert Benson, MD, author of The Relaxation Response says that any repetitive action can be a source of meditation. Sit in silence and clear your mind, play the piano, paint or sketch, put on a song and zone out. Whatever you do, just spend the time clearing your mind of all troubles. This will allow you to reset and regroup for the day or night coming.
2. Listen to Music
Music has amazing qualities. While it is enjoyable to the ears, it’s also enjoyable to the brain. However, choose your music strategically. Don’t throw on your favorite Top 40 playlist for a jam session. Instead opt for calming music, like classical music.
It’s been shown that classical music, like Mozart, Bach, Debussy can effect your brain and body by reducing cortisol (stress hormone) and lowering your blood pressure. Find a Pandora, Spotify, Google Play, or iTunes channel that plays classical music and spend a few minutes just listening to the music.
This is something we hear often. Exercise is a great stress reducer as it produces endorphins (happy hormones). To get the best out of exercising and reducing your stress, spend 30 minutes 3 or 4 times a week being active. This can be anything from walking, jogging, biking, swimming, or even weight lifting.
If you don’t have a gym membership or feel as though you don't have the time to exercise, change the way you think of exercising. Instead of hopping in your car to pick up lunch, choose a restaurant within walking distance. Even spending a few minutes walking to pick up your lunch will help release endorphins, boosting your mood immediately.
4. Healthy Diet
Here’s where we come in. Did you know dark chocolate has been shown to reduce stress? Yup! Eating healthy, along with exercise, is one of the best things you can do for your mental state. Sugar, caffeine, and alcohol are some of the worst things you can put into your body when stressed. Instead opt for fruit, veggies, and other unprocessed foods. These help keep your body in balance, rather than spiking your blood sugar levels and resulting in a crash.
Dark chocolate bites are a fantastic pick me up. New research shows that dark chocolate can help reduce stress levels by changing the body’s metabolism. A simple ounce and a half does the job.
It’s the cure to all life’s troubles isn’t it? Laughing is another free, easy, uplifting thing that produces endorphins, boosting your mood. A good chuckle will increase your heart rate and blood pressure, which creates a feeling of relaxation.
Laughing also helps boost your circulation and helps your muscles relax in your body. These two things reduce the physical symptoms of stress. So throw on your favorite stand up comedian, check out some YouTube videos, or get together with some of your friends who are known to make you bust a gut.
The next time you’re feeling stressed, take 10 minutes out of your day and try one, or all of these things.