Every new year brings new hopes and dreams, but when it comes down to it, we have many of the same obligations and commitments we had the year before. You’re not alone if your January motivation has quickly transformed into February stress.
Dealing with stress is important because it affects our mood and relationships. Stress can also lead to a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, digestive issues, and chronic aches and pains.
Let me share my 7 favorite, healthy ways you can stress less this week. Find what works best for you, and carry it into the months ahead.
- Don’t stuff your schedule. Leave the hustle and bustle behind, and drop activities that drain your time and energy, especially if you don’t enjoy them. Give yourself permission to say “no” to one non-essential engagement this week so you can slow down and really enjoy life’s precious moments.
- Delegate your to-do's. A common misconception is that asking for help means you're weak. On the contrary, it can be a brave step to let go of things and let others pitch in. Try outsourcing a time-consuming task. For example, online grocery shop for the week or enlist the assistance of your family to help fold the laundry. These small moments can add time and relief back into your week.
- Take a 10-minute timeout. Timeouts aren’t only for misbehaved children; they can work wonders for adults, too! Watch a funny YouTube video clip, turn up your favorite tunes, or choose a 10-minute time slot to refresh and restore your inner calm. (This is especially helpful when stressful situations just cannot be avoided, like traffic.)
- Breathe deeply. Your breath is an easily accessible tool to help decrease your stress and any anxious feelings your busy day might trigger. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, pause for a deep breath (one that fills all of your lungs) and exhale completely. You might even try this 1-minute breathing exercise.
- Do something YOU enjoy. Your personal health and well-being is essential in order for you to be the best for others. Be sure to regularly take time for yourself. It can be as simple as a turning your phone off for some quality quiet time or catching up with a close friend on the phone or over coffee. If there's a simple, feel-good activity you want to do this week, commit to it.
- Move more. The new Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans assure us that something is better than nothing when it comes to movement. Plus, there are undeniable benefits to keeping up your activity when feeling stressed out—reduced anxiety and depression, improved sleep, better blood pressure control, and healthy weight control. Stay active by working out with a buddy this week, trying a new group exercise class, or taking a hike at a local park.
- Keep things in perspective. When problems arise, it often feels like it’s the end of the world. But it’s really not when we just take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Try talking back to negative thoughts that might surface and focus on what you can control. Practice this by keeping a running list of the positive truths in your life and the things you're thankful for.
So, this week, try to catch your stress early by listening to the signs and symptoms in your body. Give yourself grace, and remember that things don’t have to be perfect to be memorable.
Thrive with the Y
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