Stress. Ah. That word alone makes me want to let out a big sigh. It’s hard to avoid, nearly impossible these days. And in some ways it’s become our cultural norm; the standard as to how we measure our busyness. If we’re not stressed, we perceive it as a sign that we’re not doing enough, aka not valuable or important enough.
Practice: Next time you ask someone how they’re doing pay close attention to their response; do they reply with something along the lines of, “I’m just so busy!” or “There’s so much to do and so little time!”?
Notice for yourself, are you inclined to respond in a similar way? And maybe taking it one step further, how does it feel in your body when you express these emotions? Notice how the constant pushing feels in the body.
I’ve spent many years letting stress run my life. And I’ve also dedicated many years to studying, teaching, and working with clients on how to channel stress for the better. There will always be some form of stress in our lives, and a certain amount is healthy. The right kind of stress can spur us to go for our dreams, to ace that presentation, to not settle for less than our best. The wrong amount of stress can create dis-ease in the body, harm relationships, and negatively impact our work.
It’s a delicate balance, and like anything it takes practice and a whole lot of patience.
But I promise the more you do it the easier it will get. It’s like any other muscle, you have to use it if you want to get stronger. But remember, once you get in shape you don’t get to stop working out, you have to stay on it if you want to stay mighty.
Below are the top 5 ways I choose to de-stress. In no way is this list exhaustive or all inclusive. Find what works for you, then do more of it.
This is a big one. The more time I spend hunched over a screen the worse my body feels (wrist, shoulder, neck tension anyone?!), my eyes ache, and I actually feel more disconnected. I’m committed to turning my phone off at least an hour before bed and choosing to read or spend time with my partner instead. Use your phone as your alarm clock? Put your phone on airplane mode so you’re not tempted to check your email or IG page for the 73rd time that day (the average American checks their phone 80 times in a day!).
Water is medicine. Baths can be both soothing and energizing. Try adding different ingredients into your tub for different results. Two of my favorites: epsom salts for tired muscles and an overworked mind; or for a moisturizing soak combine 1 T. coconut oil, 1 T. apple cider vinegar, and 1 t. honey (just make sure to clean the tub afterwards otherwise that coconut oil could surprise the next shower guest, and not in a good way!).
Mother nature heals. Have a picnic in the park; breathe in the ocean air; take a hike or go for a bike ride outdoors. Pressed for time?— even 5 minutes of soaking up the sun can improve your mood and stimulate a foggy brain.
Find activities you love and do them often. Aim to sweat a little every day. Sweating is therapeutic for the body; gives your mood a boost, and helps you sleep sweeter.
Laugh more. Those deep belly laughs. Call a friend, read the comics, watch a movie; get really creative here and let your playful side run free.
Here’s to strengthening your stress-less muscle!