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  • 6 (Really) Easy Ways to Relieve Stress

    Copper bowl with white flower floating
    photo courtesy ABMP

    If you’ve ever been so busy and so stressed that you don’t have time to take a nice warm bath (or said bath would stress you out because the kids would be banging on the door wanting in or your spouse would be asking you non-stop questions, like how to get a chocolate stain out of the couch), I’ve got a few easy peasy things that you might have overlooked as a source of stress relief.

    1. Breathe

    When we’re stressed our breathing becomes more shallow and quicker than it should be. To counteract that:

    • Take one to five s-l-o-w deep breaths, depending on time/inclination. The only directions I’ll give you are to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. I won’t give any timing instructions (like number of seconds for inhale, exhale, or both) because everything is relative; it’s more important for you to slow down from whatever warp speed you’re currently running at.

    2. Move

    The body is made to move and it doesn’t do well when it’s too sedentary. Unfortunately, when we’re stressed we don’t tend to move as much as we should. To help counter that:

    • Do some gentle stretching or yoga when you first get up to literally get yourself moving in the morning.
    • Do some easy stretching or yoga right before bed to give your body and mind a little help relaxing so you can fall asleep more easily.
    • Take the stairs instead of elevator or escalator whenever you can.
    • Take a movement break. Take a few seconds to move your neck/head in each direction, roll your shoulders backward and forward, do wrist circles in each direction, bend to each side, bend forward, arch your back, do *gentle* torso twists, do ankle circles in each direction, move your legs in each direction. Repeat any area that feels like it needs it.
    • Shake it out. Shake your arms/hands, legs/feet, and body for a quick physical reset.

    3. Smell the Roses (or Lavender or Frankincense or…)

    Aromatherapy. It doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming and, best of all, you don’t need an expensive diffuser. (But, I won’t lie, they’re awesome if you have one.)

    • Buy a small bottle, such as a 2ml (also called 5/8 dram), of your favorite stress relieving essential oil(s) and carry it with you to smell when you start feeling overwhelmed.
    • You could also mix it with an unscented lotion and wear as perfume to help keep your stress level under control throughout the day.
    • There are a lot of aromatherapy jewelry options available that allow you to have a few drops of the oil with you all day.

    4. Sleep

    Maximize the duration and quality of your sleep. When everything seems to be going to hell in a hand basket, this is hard, but we deal better with our stressors when we’re not sleep deprived. A few easy steps to try:

    • Listen to a brain entrainment CD like Steven Halpern’s Deep Theta when you go to bed. (I’ve never actually heard the end of this one, even when I’ve been stressed out of my mind.) It will help your brainwaves reach the theta level and put you in a light sleep state, so don’t put it on repeat or you’ll never reach the state of deep sleep you need to. (I may have learned that the hard way.)
    • Make sure the temperature in your bedroom is within your ideal sleeping range. Adjust your sheets, blankets, and comforter to allow easy addition (if you tend to get cold) or removal (if you tend to get too warm). Use a fan on your side of the bed if you run to the warm side but your partner doesn’t. Get an electric blanket that has dual controls so you can adjust your side to your ideal warmth without affecting your partner.
    • Ditto for noise level. Use a fan or white noise machine to drown out other sounds or play soft music if you can’t sleep when it’s too quiet.

    5. Let Music Soothe Your Savage Beast

    Music has the power to calm you down, rev you up, and change your mood depending on what you listen to.

    • Play music that you find relaxing to help keep you calm and steady through the day.
    • If you’re stressed and feeling lethargic, play some high energy music to pump you up and then dance the stress away.

    6. Commune With Nature

    There’s something about nature that lets us transcend the stressors of life for a while. So…

    • Go outside in your bare feet and just let yourself feel the grounding influence of, well, the ground.
    • Eat lunch outside (when weather permits, of course).
    • Take a nice leisurely walk somewhere that has a few trees or flowers. Pay attention to the warmth of the sun,  the feel of the air/breeze, the smell of the flowers, and the sounds of any wildlife.

    So that’s it. Pretty easy, right? If you have any quick or super easy stress relievers I’d love you to share them in the comments below.

    If you know anyone who’s got some stress right now (psssttt… that’s pretty much everyone, btw), why not spread the love and share this with them using the handy share buttons ↓↓↓ down there.