Stress is a big and often unavoidable part of our lives. We all carry work stress, family stress and relationship stress on our shoulders, and unless we take some steps to shake some of it off, daily stress can be too much to handle. If you’re feeling like Atlas, with your very own stress-sky on your shoulders, here are a few ways you can de-stress right now.
Soak Up the Sun
It might be hard to get catch rays when you’re working in an office from sun-up to sundown, but lack of sunlight could be contributing to your stress. You need at least 20 minutes of sun each day to help your body create Vitamin D. A lack of Vitamin D has been linked to elevated levels of stress as well as depression.
If you’re stuck inside during the day, make it a point to enjoy your lunch or breaks outside in the sun. Keep in mind that only natural sunlight makes your body generate Vitamin D. A tanning bed doesn’t cut it and increases your risk of skin cancer. Put on some SPF-15 sunscreen and enjoy that natural sunshine.
There’s nothing quite like cranking up the volume on your favorite song. It’s energizing, invigorating and can turn your mood around. It’s also a great way to lower your stress levels. Research has found that listening to music you find calming can lower your blood pressure, slow your heart rate and reduce levels of stress hormones.
What you find calming may be totally different than what someone else listens to when they’re relaxing. Don’t stress — obviously — if you find metal relaxing while your best friend prefers listening to Bach or Beethoven.
We’re all constantly connected, courtesy of our computers, tablets and mobile phones, so the idea of disconnecting might seem impossible. If your email notifications from work are stressing you out or you’re feeling pressured to check your social media every few minutes, then you could benefit from a short disconnect.
If you’re worried about your friends calling the police because you don’t post on Facebook or Twitter, let them know you’re going to be offline for a while. Then, shut off the phone, shut down the computer and stash all related technology in a drawer or somewhere you won’t be tempted to grab it. Once you’ve disconnected, try going for a walk, reading a book or catching up on your hobby.
While recycling your plastics is great, that isn’t the type of going green we’re talking about. Getting out into nature is a great way to de-stress. If you live near the woods or a hiking trail, make a day of exploring the woods and blazing new paths.
Even if you live in a city or other very urban area, there are probably parks, gardens or other green spaces near you. Finding a stretch of grass you can walk in to feel the grass between your toes is enough to get you back in touch with nature, which you might be lacking.
If you’re living in an area that’s really devoid of green, try putting some plants in your home. While it’s not as good as a walk in the woods, it’s a great way to bring a little bit of nature home with you. Do a bit of research to see what plants grow best in your area, both indoors and out.
We all know how calming a deep breath can be, but deep breathing and meditation can lower your stress levels while improving your overall mental health. You don’t have to spend hours every day learning how to breathe or meditate. You can reduce stress and improve your overall wellbeing with 5 minutes of meditation a day.
If you’re not sure where to start, the internet has plenty of resources to teach you how to meditate in a few minutes a day. If you’ve got a smart phone, there are a variety of applications available in both the Android and Apple app stores that offer guided meditation.
If you’re feeling stressed, get up from your desk and go for a 10-minute walk outside. Research has proven walking and other regular exercise can reduce stress hormones and reduce the symptoms of depression. Not only does a quick outdoor walk give you all the benefits of going green like we mentioned above, the exercise generates endorphins.
These endorphins create a feeling of euphoria, which is important for reducing stress. As a bonus, reducing stress makes it easier to lose weight. Cortisol, the stress hormone, causes the body to retain fat. Walking reduces stress and makes it easier to burn off some calories.
When we get stressed, the last thing we’re thinking of is spending time with our friends, but it can be good for us. Social interaction reduces stress as well as improves mental health. It also reduces the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Go hang out with your friends, and have fun! If you can, incorporate some of the other tricks we’ve mentioned, like lunch in the park or a hike through the woods.
It’s a great way to reinforce your friendships and relationships as well. Try planning a picnic in the park with friends on the next sunny day, and see how much fun you have.
In our fast-paced and interconnected world, stress is an unavoidable part of life, but it doesn’t mean you have to let it control you. Take a few quick steps to lower your stress levels, and you’ll find it increases your overall enjoyment of life and makes it easier to deal with things like depression, work stress and other problems.
Life should be enjoyed, not suffered through, so take some time to reduce your stress levels and get the most out of life. You’ll be surprised how much better you feel.