5 Ways to Knock Stress Out of Your Life, Part 1
It’s easy to get stressed out. In fact, if you take a minute now to check in with yourself, you will likely find that you’re stressed out.
You’re reading this online. This means: a) you are surfing the web looking for information to help you solve a problem; b) you are surfing the web as a distraction to something else you ought to be donig; or c) you are surfing the web because you are bored and looking for something to do.
We now know how dangerous stress can be. The days are long gone when we joke about someone being “tightly wound” and pass it off as just who they are.
We need to be aware of our stress so we can process it and deal with it in healthy ways so it doesn’t consume us.
We need to develop practices and habits that will help us de-stress. Below, I’ve listed five practices that will help you live a healthier life, both physically and mentally.
1. Go for a long walk.
This is one of my favourite things to do. It doesn’t take much else other than time. I try to walk for thirty minutes every day, with a longer one-to-two hour walk on the weekend.
Getting outside and moving is good for your body, heart, and mind.
I recommend that you leave your phone at home, or, if you must take it in, put it in airplane mode. No calls, no music, no pictures (I know this last one may be controversial).
But when you go for a walk, focus on what is around you. Focus on your thoughts. Let the walk clear mental space for you to think creatively about what is happening in your life.
We have so little time to think, and I am convinced that is part of why we are so stressed out all the time. Walking will help you clear and create space that will lead to less stress.
2. Spend time in the sun.
My mother always encouraged me to spend time outside, especially in the spring, summer, and fall. Sunshine used to be good for us back then! But as I got older and became more bookish, I tended to stay inside.
Now, I have plenty of reasons to be outside: playing with the kids, tending to my yard, going for walks. And I’ve learned that the sunshine is still good for us (though I may use more sunscreen these days)!
There is something about being in the rays of sun that is comforting and effects healing. There is a reason many of us consider a beach vacation to be the pinnacle of vacationing.
If today is a nice day, and the sun is out, why not leave your house or place of work and go out for a walk in the sun?
3. Read a book (or listen to music).
This third one is something that you can do in the sun as well! Go for a thirty minute walk, find a bench or put down a blanket, and spend fifteen or thirty minutes reading or listening to music.
The idea is, that when you interrupt your thinking, you put your mind at ease and rest and allow yourself some space to think. A good book will help you get lost in your thoughts, and good music helps you to feel more positive about yourself.
Make this a daily habit. Combine the two, even–play inspirational music as you get ready for bed and then read an inspirational book for fifteen minutes before bed.
4. Meditate for ten minutes and focus on your breath.
I recently wrote about meditation. I believe this is one of the best ways we can interrupt our thinking, bring calm and clarity into our minds, and focus on our best selves.
It doesn’t have to take long. Even five minutes of regular meditation will benefit you. (Of course, you’ll want to increase your time from there. But don’t look down on a small start–something is better than nothing!)
You can meditate in the morning or at night, on a walk, or even in your car before you go in to work for the day.
5. Eat a salad for dinner.
Lastly, I recommend eating a salad for dinner. Not with dinner, but for dinner.
Many of the meals we eat are heavy. If we’ve worked late, or have been in a rush, we’re likely to order food. This food was likely prepared with a lot of grease or oil and by frying it. It’s heavy.
Heavy food sits in our stomachs and makes us feel gross. If you’ve ever gone to bed feeling like nothing from your dinner has digested, then you know what I mean.
In contrast, a salad is light. You can make a huge salad–I’ve often used an entire Romain lettuce head, along with vegetables, some bacon bits or chicken, and a fat-filled dressing–and feel full. At the same time, your fullness will not feel heavy.
This digests easily, and will allow you to get to bed feeling lighter. It may be just a feeling, but it will make a difference for your evening and your sleep.
Which one of these would you like to try? Which ones are you already doing?
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