No matter how good things may be going, life can still be stressful. So what’s the best way to deal with feeling frazzled? If you’re in need of a few healthy ideas, here are 14 supercharged stress relievers, courtesy of our coaches:
Eat calming foods – Up your intake of dark, leafy greens (which are rich in magnesium–an important mineral for counteracting stress) and brain-healthy fuel (walnuts and wild salmon are both great options).
Laugh more – Watch a comedy, talk with a funny friend, watch YouTube videos of your favorite stand up comic or check out the latest issue of the New Yorker (for the cartoons, of course.) It might sound simple, but often laughter really is the best medicine.
Reduce screen time – Put your devices away at least an hour before bedtime and, as tempting as it is, avoid checking your texts and email when you first open your eyes in the morning.
Breathe – Spend a few minutes every day focusing on your breath. Observe each inhalation, and each exhalation (without trying to change them). Put one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest. As you breathe, make sure the hand on your abdomen is moving up and down rather than the one on your chest. (This is called “belly breathing.”) Soon you’ll start to more quickly recognize when you feel tense and get in the habit of taking some deep breaths to calm yourself.
Treat yourself – Restorative yoga, massages, spa days, mani-pedis, lunch with friends, an hour spent curled up with a book. These are are not luxuries! They’re essential to well-being.
Spend time in nature – Go for a walk in the woods, a stroll on the beach, a hike along the coast — whatever kind of nature is close by, take advantage of it and the crisp, fresh air. Even walking barefoot on the grass or rocks can help literally “ground” you so you feel more at peace.
Get physical – Exercise helps you “burn off” excess stress energy and releases endorphins, the body’s natural “feel good” chemicals. Exercise can also help regulate sleep, which resets our brains and lets us recharge when we’re feeling overloaded.
Keep a stress journal – Each time you feel stressed, record the cause and your reaction, and how you felt physically and emotionally. This can help you figure out what sets you off and how you respond. Sometimes the simple act of writing things down can help diffuse your stress. Over time, you can identify patterns and triggers, and also pinpoint what helps (i.e. waking, reaching out to a friend) and what doesn’t (i.e. stress eating or drinking).
Be grateful – Take a few minutes at the end of each day to write down what you are thankful for and any good things that happened to you. You’ll be surprised how this simple act can positively shift your mood.
Learn to say no – If you feel constantly overwhelmed, take some time to see what you can cut back on and what you can delegate to others (both at home and work). Remember that self-care is not “selfish.” When you feel good, you’re better-equipped to take care of those around you.
Connect with friends and family – Talking something out with someone you trust, rather than bottling up your feelings can be great stress antidote. Often we need to “get out of our own head” to break the cycle of negative self-talk. Sharing your worries with others helps you gain new insights and approaches to whatever is challenging you.
Cut down on caffeine, sugar and booze – While these things may seem to help in the moment, they actually tax your body’s resources. Your body uses up nutrient supplies to detox rather than supporting your nervous system (which affects your mood). If you’re stress-prone, caffeine in particular is best avoided (sorry coffee lovers), as it can stimulate the release of stress hormones.
Take up a new hobby – Ever wanted to learn to knit, make jewelry or paint? A hobby can help distract you from the daily grind. If your new interest involves physical activity–horseback riding, rock climbing pole dancing– even better!
Count to 20 – If you find yourself in an immediate crisis, pause and count to 20 (or higher if need be). This can help offset the “fight or flight” response that can lead to feelings of panic, cloudy thinking and saying things we wish we hadn’t.