18 Simple Ways To De-Stress Your Life
Stress rarely brings out the best in me – especially too much stress! It clouds my judgement and shortens my fuse. It entices me to hurry and makes communicating well nearly impossible, not to mention all the physical ways it plays out – headaches, muscle tightness, racing heart, etc.
Life is full of pressure filled circumstances – there’s no denying that. However, it isn’t the circumstances that are to blame. Your habits, choices, expectations, and the way think about what comes your way are the culprit – they all add up to the stress you feel. I know – coaches aren’t immune!
Do you know what your stress triggers are? It’s different for everyone. My primary stressors are taking on too much, having unrealistic expectations, and thinking it all has to be perfect. It’s wild, but these are all within my control!
Change, which is not always our choice, also contributes to stress. As Richard A. Swenson states in his book The Overload Syndrome, “Stress is directly related to change. Three hundred years ago, people did not have much stress. Yes, they had pain, tragedy, destitution, hardship, and suffering – but they did not have much change and therefore, by definition, they did not have much stress. Today’s conditions, however, are vastly different. The flood of change sweeping over every quadrant of our existence has brought with it unprecedented stress. Vintage overload.”
2020 was brimming with change as we all adapted to living in a pandemic. How did you navigate the many changes?
The Crazy Truth
Believe it or not, stress is considered the number one health problem in the United States. It plays a key role in numerous health related issues: heart disease, asthma, obesity, diabetes, headaches, depression, anxiety, gastrointestinal problems, Alzheimer’s, accelerated aging, and premature death.
Stress doesn’t just affect how you feel, it affects your ability to think. And it impacts the way you interact with others and compromises the quality of your work. A few years ago, during a stressful season for me, I posted this to social media: “Happy Wednesday! May your toots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love.” Yikes!
It would be handy to blame the blunders of my stress on the flood of change and other outside factors that were going on in my life at the time. While those factors were (and are) real, I still get to choose how I respond to what comes my way. It’s my responsibility to be aware of my specific stress triggers so that I can proactively preempt them. That means I must be more mindful; more present. I must go slow – at a human pace! And have the habits in place that will safeguard me from excessive stress. Here are some of my favorite ways to de-stress in no particular order:
1. Linger with God
There’s nothing more calming to me than sweet time spent in God’s presence. To be reminded of His love and care for me and to really soak that in. When life gets crazy, this is not the place I want to skimp. Instead, I want to linger longer with Him; maybe even reconnect with Him later in my day.
Fear of not getting done what needs to get done tricks me into taking matters into my own hands and skipping time with God. No rushing, but trusting that He’s got me. He is more than able to help me navigate whatever I’m facing – including my full day!
2. Get Outdoors
Fresh air and natural beauty are calming. Did you know that enjoying time in a forest boosts your immune system, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and improves your mood? It even increases your focus!
Don’t have to time travel to the forest? Talk a walk in the morning. Read a book on a bench during lunch. Gaze at the stars before bedtime. Maybe you only have 5 or 10 minutes – spend them outside!
3. Sip Tea
Chamomile or green tea are naturally calming, so slow down and take a sip! Not much of a tea drinker – sip sparkling water, Kombucha, or bone broth. The point is to slow down and sip! Avoid sugary drinks or those with alcohol – they only add to your stress.
4. Take Up a Hobby
All work and no play – that’s a recipe for stress! Engaging in leisure activities that you enjoy like knitting, puzzles, hiking woodworking, or fishing are good for you! They allow your hands to be busy and give your mind space to think. Having a hobby enables you to face work refreshed and more creative. Why not give it a try?
5. Organize Something
You might be scratching your head right now, but I promise, taking even 15 minutes to organize something when you feel overwhelmed is a powerful stress reducer! In the past when I was feeling stressed and bumped up against something in need of being organized, I felt I didn’t have time to deal with it. Lately I’ve been pausing briefly to organize. I’ve discovered that it’s not only therapeutic, but it saves me time down the road too! Bonus!
When you are sleep deprived, everything is hard – just ask a new mom or college student! When you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed don’t sacrifice your sleep. You need those 7-8 hours of sleep a night – don’t fool yourself!
7. Soothing Music
On Saturday mornings my husband and I like to have soothing jazz playing in the background while we savor our breakfast. I look forward to that moment of Zen in our week. My son enjoys “Lo-fi” – check it out on You-Tube.
I challenge you to pause and just listen! Be present. Enjoy it; notice how the music makes you feel.
8. Exercise Regularly
A rigorous schedule is offset by exercise. If you have a desk job, you should know that some view the dangers of sitting equal to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day! Even 21 minutes of cardio daily makes a difference. Getting regular exercise offers incredible benefits in addition to lowering your stress! And the options are endless – walking, biking, yoga, strength training, stretching, HIIT, Tabata, barre, Pilates, etc. You Tube is loaded with amazing options you can do at home – many with no equipment! Mix it up so that you increase both your strength and flexibility.
9. Breathe Deep
Slow down. Pay attention to your breathing. When you’re stressed, the pace of your breathing increases and get shallower. Breathe deep. Breath in for 4 counts, hold it for 7 counts, and exhale for 8 counts. Repeat four times.
Set the timer for at least 10 minutes – longer if you wish. Dwell on how much God loves you and all that He has done for you. Recite a scripture or meaningful phrase. The point is to focus on Him rather than your stressors. Consider the Abide app.
11. Practice Regular Self-Care
Give yourself permission to take a bath, read a book, chat with a friend, get a massage or foot rub – your version of self-care.
12. Try Herbs
Lavender, cypress, and rosemary all have de-stressing effects. Be sure your oils are pure – scented lotions and other products tend to have additional ingredients that inhibit the full affect.
Consider taking passion flower, St. John’s wort, kava, licorice, or ginseng to reduce stress.
13. Take B Vitamins
B vitamins ease stress. Eat foods that are rich in vitamin B like beans, peas, nuts, legumes, liver, avocados, spinach, bananas, and eggs and more.
It’s not just a cliché that laughter is good medicine. It’s a fabulous stress reducer! Watch a comedy, share a funny story, and laugh!
One of my favorite ways to de-stress is to journal – let it all out on paper. It increases my awareness and enables me to see life in a new way. Practicing gratitude is a wonderful stress reliever – list all the things you’re grateful for.
16. Eat Well
Limit your alcohol, sugar, and caffeine intake. Choose healthy fruits and vegetables. Your diet matters!
17. Slow Down
Consciously slow down! Walk slowly. Speak slowly. No hurrying.
18. Work With a Coach
A coach is able to assist you in addressing the mindsets that are fueling your stress in the first place so that you can do life and work differently; in a less stressful way. Why suffer when you don’t have to?
When you begin to feel stressed – break the momentum. Identify where the stress is coming from and indulge in one of the many options listed above!
What’s your favorite way to de-stress?