5 Simple Ways To Relieve Stress Throughout The Day
Oh, stress. You are just a bundle of joy. I think a lot of people assume that I don’t get stressed out because I rarely show it, but the reality is that I still get stressed out just like everyone else. The word stress actually stresses me out sometimes because of how unpleasant it can be.
Even though I practice mindfulness and consider myself to be a pretty calm person, stress can get the best of me sometimes. I also know that stress can destroy a person if we don’t learn how to deal with it.
Over the past three years that I’ve worked in the “real world” where things are constantly being thrown at you, changing at the last minute, and getting on your nerves, I’ve learned that the only way I can stay sane is to face stress head-on and deal with it instead of avoiding it.
For me, five little tricks consistently help me out in stressful times. They’re not going to make the problems go away, but they will inspire a positive mindset, boost your confidence, and let you relax (yes, relax!) during a busy day. Here are my tips!
Do a brain dump
Most of the time when I get stressed out it’s because I’m overwhelmed with the amount of things I need to get done, and I’m simply not sure where to start. I find myself thinking ahead to the future and wondering how everything will get done, rather than focusing on what I can do in the current moment.
Because I’m an overthinker and tend to keep lots of things floating around in my head, I’ve found that simply grabbing a piece of paper and writing down every little thing that comes into my mind (aka a brain dump) really helps put things into perspective. I’ll think about anything I might need to do in the categories of work, home, school, blog, life, and any other responsibilities.
Once everything is down on paper, I take a practical look at what’s on the page. If there’s anything that’s not urgent for this week, I cross it off (and maybe transfer to a different list for later). I then look to see if there are things that aren’t in my control and cross those off. Once the list is smaller, I ask myself which three things are the most urgent. While this method won’t get rid of your to-do list, it will help you to prioritize your tasks, see where your attention and energy should really be going, and therefore relieve some of the stress you’ve been experiencing.
Take deep breaths
If I ever get to a point during the day where I feel like I’m about to crumble and have a mental breakdown, I close my eyes and start to focus on my breath. I’ll breathe in on the count of one, out for two, and count up to 10 before starting over. I try to breathe in so that my lungs feel full, and then I’ll let it out through my mouth (it actually helps to make ridiculous noises too).
I’ve been trying out the Spire Mindfulness + Activity Tracker for the last month, and it has easily become my new favorite piece of technology because it makes mindfulness a lot easier and more attainable. You just clip it onto your bra strap or belt loop, and it tracks your breathing patterns to recognize when you are feeling tense, focused, or calm, as well as when you’re active or sedentary.
If Spire senses that you need to take mindful pauses, it simply vibrates and sends a notification to your phone with suggested breathing exercises and meditations. Sometimes I’ll be sitting at my desk and Spire will notify me that I’ve been tense for the past five minutes, so I’ll stop what I’m doing, check in with my body, and take some deep breaths. It’s an amazing little piece of technology that has definitely helped me with stress reduction over the past month.
Tell someone about it
Telling a friend of family member about what’s stressing you out is another great way to put things into perspective, even if it’s just through a text. I find that once I’ve explained why I’m feeling stressed to someone else, I tend to feel less affected by it. Sometimes talking to someone can help you see that you’re overreacting, or you might even end up with a solution that you were struggling to find.
Also, when you reach out to others under stress, you release oxytocin – a neuro-hormone which plays a role in social-bonding. In the TED Talk How To Make Stress Your Friend, Psychologist Kelly McGonigal explains that when you make connections with others during stressful times, you release more oxytocin and your stress response becomes healthier, so you actually recover faster from stress. Pretty neat!
If you’re a frequent reader of my blog, you know that I’m all about finding contentment in everyday life. Mindfulness is something that really helps me stay grounded and appreciative of the current moment, so I try to make it a regular practice and actually commit to it in my daily life.
If I’m really feeling like I need a solid break to calm down and get into a positive mindset, I’ll do a guided meditation with the Spire app. There are a bunch of great resources in the app to help you calm down, focus, or reduce stress, as well as other mindfulness exercises from partners like Thich Nhat Hanh and Deepak Chopra. I personally love the guided meditation about love because it helps you be more compassionate and understanding towards others, which really helps if you’re stressed out because of other people.
If you’re not into meditation, I have a post with five other mindfulness practice ideas that will help get the job done as well. Sometimes all it takes is going for a walk to get away from it all. You could also do a quick yoga routine at your desk to help to clear your head and give you some space to figure out what to do next. Another great feature of the Spire wearable tracker is that it alerts you when you’ve been sedentary for too long, and that’s been super beneficial for me since one of my goals for the year is to spend less time sitting during the day.
Address any frustrations
Something I’ve been trying to do recently is get a better understanding of the moments when I feel frustrated. Frustration and stress often go hand-in-hand for me, and my natural response to frustration is to lash out at others or get super moody. Lately, I’ve been taking mindful pauses during the times when I get frustrated and actually asking myself, ‘Why am I frustrated or stressed out right now?’
Sometimes it’s other people who stress you out with last minute requests, or maybe it’s a looming deadline and you feel like you’re out of time. Taking a break to ask yourself why you’re stressed out and why you’re feeling off-balance in the moment can give you a great deal of perspective on the issue. Once you’ve done this, you can actually handle the issue more gracefully without taking it out on others. If it’s something that’s solely within your control, show yourself some compassion and ask if you’re doing everything you can. If not, think about the changes you can make.
Disclaimer: I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
How do you relieve stress during the day? Leave a comment down below!