Mindful Moments: 3 Ways to Manage Stress
Whether it’s your job, your finances, a personal relationship, or that annoying person on the freeway who just cut you off, we all have stressors in our lives that we occasionally (ok, more than occasionally) let get the best of us. Stress can lead to a plethora of health problems including high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, headaches, fatigue, and digestion issues just to name a few. Not only that, but stress has a direct effect on your mood.
When you’re stressed, you are more likely to be anxious, restless, irritable, sad, and feel overwhelmed. So what are we getting at here?? Stress is no good. Just talking about all these symptoms is getting us stressed out!
Most of us don’t have the luxury of floating away on a permanent vacation and leaving all the stresses in our life behind. And even if we did, we would probably still manage to get worried about the slightly cool temperature of the pool or why the cabana boy is taking so long to bring our mojito over.
So if we can’t get rid of it, what are the best ways to manage stress? Deal with it! Check out the top three tips for how we deal with the not so great stuff in life.
WAYS TO MANAGE STRESS
Meditation- aka sitting quietly and clearing your thoughts is one of the oldest ways to manage stress. This concept sounds misleadingly easy.
Sitting there and doing nothing? Done! Well… not so much. Getting our minds which are normally on constant overdrive to shut up can actually be extremely challenging.
Meditation is a great way to manage stress and is much simpler than most people assume. Start simply with just a few minutes at a time and work your way up to more. A few of the benefits of meditation, according to Jen Sincero from her book You Are a Badass, How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Living an Awesome Life include:
- Brings us into the present moment
- Relaxes us
- Relieves stress
- Strengthens our intuition and ability to focus
- Allows us to hear our inner voice more clearly
- Fills us with light and love
- Puts us in a good mood
- Helps us love ourselves
If you’re wondering where to start, here is a simple guideline:
- Get into a comfortable position. Sitting cross-legged or laying flat on your back are two of the most popular options. There are no rules here, so do what feels right.
- Relax! Not just your mind, but physically allow your muscles to relax. Be aware of how each muscle in your body is feeling and let loose.
- Close your eyes or if you prefer to keep them open (to avoid falling asleep… yes, this happens to even the most mindful of us all), select an object or space to focus your attention on.
- Begin to notice your breath.
- Gently release any thoughts that come into your mind. And trust us, the thoughts will keep on rolling in, but keep your brain as clear and empty as you can. Before you know it, you’re meditating!
Repeating a mantra over and over can help to increase focus and stop your mind from wandering off. If you do find yourself suddenly thinking about what you need to pick up at the grocery store later that day, don’t let it discourage you. Acknowledge the fact that the thought came into your mind, and release it.
One of our favorite mantras to use during meditation is “I am [Fill in the Blank Here with Positive Attribute].”
A few examples…
- “I am love.”
- “I am gratitude.”
- “I am strong.”
- “I am peace.”
You can choose to say the same attribute over and over again, or alternate between a cycle of attributes. We find this mantra particularly uplifting, but feel free to use any mantra that resonates with you, or none at all!
2. MAKE TIME TO RELAX AND DO THE THINGS YOU ENJOY
Some of us find enjoyment in taking a long soak in a bubble bath (more on that later), and others find their happy place through exercise, long walks on the beach, or partaking in a favorite hobby or craft. It’s key that you take time off from the hustle and bustle of life and make time to rejuvenate.
- When you take part in activities you enjoy, you become more productive, more engaged, and more fulfilled when it comes time for work to get done… so yes, go ahead and forward this to your boss when you tell them you need the day off.Here’s our recipe for the perfect bubble bath, aka our method of choice for the ultimate relaxation experience:Light up a candle with a fragrance that helps you unwind. According to a study by Oxford Academic, certain fragrances are scientifically proven to help you relax and reduce physical symptoms of stress. Here is one of our favorites from the Fragrance Spa Collection: NO. 5.002 Lavender + Ylang. Both of these fragrance oils are skin safe up to 5%, so feel free to make a homemade bar of soap to match your DIY candle while you’re at it. If you’ve never made a candle before, check out our post on How to Make a Wooden Wick Candle. Whether you choose to make your own candle or purchase one from the store, make sure it includes a wooden wick. This special type of wick crackles while it burns and makes for a candle burning experience that will delight all of your senses.
- Pour yourself a glass of wine (or tea!). According to Dr. David Katz, sipping a glass of wine has a calming effect on the mind without having an effect on your metabolism or precious slumber. For an added health bonus, make it a glass of red wine. According to a recent study by Harvard Medical School, the resveratrol in red wine directly activates a protein that promotes health and longevity. If wine isn’t your thing, try an herbal tea blend. Here is our favorite, by Goodnight Darling Co.- Fade to Black Herbal Tea Blend. PS- We love everything on their site for all things sleep and relaxation related, so if you’re in the market for that sort of thing, we highly suggest checking them out! Plus, use code wick15 at checkout on their site for an extra 15% off any purchase #notanad.
- Start the bath! Adding a moisturizing bath bomb, epsom salts, or luxurious bath oils will help to set the mood and leave you feeling refreshed and replenished.
- Gather your supplies… Our list of essentials includes the Your Favorite Coffeehouse playlist on Spotify, a good book, that glass of wine we mentioned earlier, a bath caddy to put it all on, and a soft fluffy towel.
- Get in that lovely bath you’ve prepared and let your stresses float away!
3. LAUGH IT OFF
“Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.” -Miyamoto Musashi, Japanese philosopher
OK, we aren’t going to sit here and pretend life is all sunshine and roses, all the time. Sometimes, you make a fool of yourself, a friend lets you down, or you just step in a pile of dog sh** on your way to work. But if you waste your energy getting all worked up every time something goes wrong, you better believe you’ll be living a pretty exhausted life.
So what’s the solution? Don’t take yourself too seriously. Combat less than ideal situations with positivity and laughter. A fun little challenge is to start each thought with “This is good because….”
Example: You spend hours slaving over the perfect dinner for your family or friends. As you walk your magnificent creation over to the table, you trip and your gourmet dish goes flying straight onto the floor.
Your first instinct may be to say a few inappropriate words (sorry, Grandma). Instead, flip your attitude. Easier said than done, we know… but you can do it, we believe in you!
Try this: This is good because: I was able to practice my cooking, which I love. I get to bond with my loved ones by getting through cleaning up this mess together. You may even end up at your favorite restaurant instead. And certainly you won’t be doing as many dishes! You get the point.
Stress happens, but understand how to manage stress and we know you’ll be feeling free in no time!