Stress is an inevitable part of life. In small doses, stress can actually be helpful. It can motivate you to meet deadlines and perform at your best. However, it often gets too much. While you can’t always prevent this from happening, you can control how you deal with it. Here are six self-care tips to help you relax and de-stress:
1. Get moving.
Physical activity is a great way to release built-up tension and boost your mood. Even if you don’t have time for a full workout, a brisk walk around the neighborhood or some simple stretching exercises can make a huge difference.
Additionally, you can spend time outside in nature and take in the fresh air to calm your mind and body. It has been scientifically proven that spending time outdoors is a great stress-management strategy—this is why the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 led to a global mental health crisis. If you can’t get outside, simply opening a window to let in some natural light and fresh air can help.
2. Spend time doing things you like.
Dedicate at least 30 minutes daily to doing something you enjoy with no distractions. If you enjoy hiking, cycling, or other outdoor activities, you’ll hit two birds with one stone! However, it doesn’t have to be a sport. You could read, listen to music, take a bath, bake bread, or play games—it could be anything that brings you joy.
3. Improve your appearance.
Your mental appearance, or how you perceive yourself, also affects your stress levels. Half of how you perceive yourself is what you see in the mirror, so looking good can translate into feeling good. Thus, you should spend some time pampering your body or improving your appearance how you see fit.
It can be as simple as a salon visit or as complex as cosmetic surgery. You can get a quick massage or go for a whole spa day to relieve tension in your muscles. If your teeth are bothering you, have them checked out by a doctor. Different treatments are available; if you have crooked teeth, you could try wearing braces or Invisalign. If you have missing teeth, all-on-4 dental implants are a great option because they’re permanent and look just like your natural teeth.
4. Eat healthy and balanced meals.
Nourishing your body with healthy food will help reduce stress levels and improve your overall energy and well-being. Not only does it help to boost our mood, but it can also help to lower levels of cortisol and adrenaline—two stress hormones that have long-term negative effects on the body. A healthy diet mitigates the effects of stress by strengthening your immune system and easing your blood pressure.
Some types of food even trigger the release of brain chemicals that calm you down or make you feel happy, such as serotonin and dopamine. These healthy snacks include oranges, avocados, pistachios, and almonds. Chocolate triggers dopamine release, too, but manage your intake because most chocolates are high in sugar.
You should avoid processed foods, caffeine, and alcohol, too. These can all exacerbate feelings of stress. While caffeine helps you focus, and alcohol may help you deal with negative emotions, these two substances come with many other drawbacks.
5. Practice deep breathing exercises and meditation
Meditation is a practice that can be used to calm and focus the mind. It can help you to become more aware of your thoughts and emotions, and it can also provide relief from stress and anxiety. There are many ways to meditate, but they all involve focusing on your breath and becoming present in the moment.
To get started, find a quiet place where you can relax without distractions. Then, sit or recline in a comfortable position. You may want to use a cushion or blanket for support.
Now, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to relax your body and clear your mind. Focus on the sensation of your breath as it enters and leaves your body. Count each inhale and exhale slowly if this helps you to stay focused. When your mind begins to wander, gently redirect your attention back to your breath. Do this for 10 to 20 minutes or until you feel relaxed and at ease. You can even do this on five-minute breaks or during lunch!
6. Get enough sleep.
When you’re sleep-deprived, your body is under more stress, and you’re more likely to feel irritable and anxious. Make sure to get enough sleep every night to help reduce stress levels and improve your mood and cognitive function during the day. Some people function better after six hours of sleep, but generally, most people need at least seven to nine hours. What’s important is that you feel alert and energetic in the morning. As long as you do not feel sleep-deprived or go overboard, you’re in the sweet spot of being well-rested.
Implementing even just a few of these self-care tips can make a big difference in how well you can cope with stressors in your life. The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a step back and focus on taking care of yourself first so that you can better handle whatever challenges come your way.