Dealing with emergencies at work or in private life can be very frustrating and exhausting. It’s important that we know how to relieve stress naturally and relax regularly so that those small everyday troubles don’t pile up and become an actual threat to our physical and mental health in the long run.
Stress is known to negatively impact the immune system, thus making us more susceptible to infections and chronic disease. According to WebMD the signs and symptoms of chronic stress include low energy, headaches, digestive issues, pain, insomnia, frequent colds and infections, depression, acne, and obesity.
I know for me, when things are stressful, I get a cold sore, very often a cold, can’t sleep even though I’m tired and just can’t stop eating sugar. Finding simple ways to deal with stress at any given moment has been vital since becoming a mom. Here are 14 things that you can do find stress relief in everyday life.
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1. Set Intentions
The simple act of setting an intention to feel good that day will help you perceive everything differently. Even when something unexpected happens, once you have that intention you’ll be able to deal with whatever comes up in a more positive way. You’re more likely to be proactive (what can I do about it) rather than reactive (WTF is happening to me?). So simply set an intention how you want to feel that day and how you want to react in situations.
2. Plan, but don’t over-plan
Having a plan can also put you in that proactive mode. “See, this is happening to me, but I can actually do something about it.” Or “I want to achieve this and this is how I plan to do it”. Once you have a plan, you know where you’re headed and what the next step is. It helps minimize the stress and anxiety that come with uncertainty. Don’t forget to include self-care practices in that plan.
When you make that plan, keep in mind that life does whatever it wants and you need to adjust as you move forward. So be nice to yourself and allow flexibility in your plan. You don’t want to end up constantly blaming yourself for not sticking exactly to what you’ve planned because other things come up.
3. Manage your expectations
Very often we get stressed because we think we can do better. We can always do more with our time, with our lives, in our relationships, at work…It just never stops. There’s always more to do and accomplish.
Which can be a good thing because it creates an urgency to do something about the things that are important to us. But if you’re not careful, it can become pretty overwhelming. That desire to do more can put you in a place where it’s never enough and you’re never happy with how much you’ve done. You start guilt-tripping and beating yourself up over probably nothing.
So manage your expectations and be realistic about how much you can do in a day, week or a month. A good way to become more realistic about what you do every day is to start tracking your daily habits.
4. Listen To Music
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t really like music. Not everyone likes TV or movies, but music? We all have a list of favorite songs that just make us smile. Good thing is, listening to the music you love is one of the best ways to reduce stress and anxiety. Studies with coronary heart disease patients suggest that listening to music can help reduce anxiety and improve heart rate, blood pressure and quality of sleep. (source)
5. Spend Time in Nature
Studies have shown spending time in nature is beneficial for our mental and cardiovascular health. (source)
We’re surrounded by technology more and more, but we are made to be in nature and we’re made from nature. When you spend half an hour in a park or on the beach, how do you feel? Refreshed, right? Like you can actually breathe now? Calmer? Keep doing this. Go out for walks, hike, garden, spend time with your friends and family outside.
Today, even my neighbor’s cat knows exercise is very important for your brain health. When you exercise and move your body, you don’t just do it to look good, you do it because it makes you feel good and it affects other parts of your life too. One huge benefit of exercise, especially aerobic, sweaty exercise is that after a certain amount of time your body starts to produce endorphins. We know endorphins as something that puts us in a better mood, but not many people realize is that they’re natural pain killers, that we can produce on our own. So whether you’re stressed, in pain, not feeling good physically or mentally – do some exercise, at least 10 minutes and see whether you start feeling better.
I know for me, whenever I stop exercising for a week, I get a little bit depressed, more reactive, mean and fearful. A 10-20 minute workout a day can change a lot.
If you want to work out, but don’t have too much time and don’t want to go to a gym, you can try Grokker – it is a platform with many different fitness classes like barre, yoga, HIIT, pilates. You can get a free trial here.
7. Express Gratitude
Today we’re told left and right we need to be grateful for everything we have and stop looking at what we don’t have. It’s just that sometimes when you’re worried and stressed out, you don’t honestly believe that can help. But it actually can. Even research shows people who count their blessings are overall happier than people who don’t. (source)
Expressing gratitude for what is good in your life is one of the most powerful things you can do when you’re anxious, overwhelmed or depressed. It’s a reminder that life is so much bigger than this moment, this struggle right now.
8. Remind Yourself That Nothing Lasts Forever
Look back and ask yourself: How often were you stressed out because of X in the past? Now be honest: Was all that worry worth it? Probably not. It might even seem silly from the distance. Everything passes and what’s stressing you out today might not be relevant in a month or a year or 5 years. Life moves in a way nobody can predict, but one thing is for sure. Nothing will stay the same, so keep yourself calm by reminding yourself this is not the most important thing that’s going to happen in your lifetime. Even if you’re going through something difficult right now, know that this will not go on forever. Other things are going to happen and time really heals.
9. Do Yoga
Many studies show yoga is beneficial for our physical and also mental health. (source) I know whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed, even 10 minutes of yoga can get me out of that negative mindset and help me start fresh. Even if it’s in the middle of the day, it truly feels restorative.
If you want to start practicing yoga you can go to a local yoga class, do some yoga outside, or if you’re new to it and want to practice yoga at home – you can start with this 14-Day yoga challenge by Grokker.
10. Do Something Good For Someone Else
Studies show people who are kind and help others are happier (source) and when you’re happy you’re less stressed. If you’ve ever done something good for someone else, you know that warm feeling. It’s pretty magical. Fill your life with experiences that give you this feeling. The study I linked also showed that counting your acts of kindness at the end of the week or the day, increases happiness even more. So do good and remind yourself of it.
11. Pet An Animal
Animals are adorable, playful and make our lives so much better. They don’t need to be productive, animals don’t need to make a career to feel like they’re worth it. They just are. Many of them even enjoy being petted by humans. Do it! Petting an animal can help reduce your blood pressure and cortisol levels, which is a stress hormone (source).
12. Eat Healthy
Stress can exhaust the body’s reserves for many vitamins and nutrients. Therefore it’s important that we still eat healthy, even we’re under pressure.
Eating more fruits and vegetables will supply your body with essential vitamins like vitamin C, which according to this article in Psychology today is an important nutrient for stress management.
Eating clean is a self-care habit, it’s a form of self-respect. When you make the conscious choice that you want to eat clean, you’re telling yourself: I’m worth it. Don’t treat your body like a trash can.
13. Write It Down
Identify what is causing stress in your life and write about it. Whether you journal or just decide to write it on a piece of paper that you’re going to throw out right after doesn’t matter. You probably know what is stressing you on some level, but you need to let it out in some form. Writing it down is a very peaceful way to do it and will help a lot. It will help you figure out whether you can do something about it or not. If you can change it, you, of course, need to take action. If you can’t change it or do anything about it, then it’s really not in your control. Simply admitting that and surrendering, as much as you can, will lift a lot of weight off of you. You’re not responsible for everything in this world.
14. Practice Self-Discipline
If you’re stressed because you’re not doing something you know you should be doing, change it. Don’t let that thing become too big to handle in your head. Start and finish it. Practice self-discipline. It’s not very easy in the beginning, but it pays off. The more you do it, the more empowered, positive and proud of yourself you will feel.
The last thing I feel like doing in the evening, after cleaning, preparing food, running errands, running after a toddler and dealing with 1000 other unexpected things all day is to sit down and write this blog. I want to eat chips and watch Netflix. But most days I actually sit down and do something for this blog. And this simple act of self-discipline, even if it doesn’t earn me a Nobel Prize or any other award, makes me happier, more accomplished and calmer.
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