It’s National Stress Awareness Day, a good 24 hours to remind ourselves that we’re way too stressed out and we need to relax. All of us get stressed out sometimes. It’s a common side effect for continuously kicking ass and taking names, but stress takes a toll on our minds and our bodies and we need to learn to manage it. What you absolutely shouldn’t do is sit there in frustration tears and let the stress take over. So here are ten tips if you’re feeling insanely overwhelmed and need to de-stress:
1. Take a walk, really, it’s that simple
You don’t have to dedicate an hour of your day to the gym – the thought of that sounds stressful to me now – but simply walking or jogging on the treadmill for ten minutes is enough to clear your head and boost endorphins. Seriously, according to research, even FIVE minutes of exercise can reduce your stress levels.
2. Look away from the blinding light of your laptop and phone
As much as I love the Internet, sometimes it’s just not very good for my mental health. According to Pew Research, social media can create stress, particularly in women. So shut that business down if your feeling overwhelmed. We don’t often think about it, but we CAN just close our laptops and walk away.
3. Hug someone or hold their hand
Really. A 2009 study found that not only does 5 minutes of hugging or 10 minutes of hand holding lower heart rates and generally reduce stress, the thought of that awesome bear hug will help relax us throughout the day.
4. Put on Pandora
Or Spotify, or the dozens of other free online personalized radios we listen to when we’re sick of our iTunes. Research has shown that music (particularly slower music) is physically soothing to your body, especially your nervous system.
5. Watch a cat do something ridiculous on YouTube
6. Squeeze your pressure points
Whenever I’m at wit’s end (or have a really bad headache), I always press on the area between my pointer finger and thumb. You can also apply pressure to the space between your second and third knuckle, and this should “create a sense of instant calm,” according to Sharon Melnick, who wrote Success Under Stress.
7. Spend a little bit of time in the sun
If you spend a lot of time inside (guilty!) your body might be confused about what time it really is, and this can trigger stress. According to Julie Holland, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine, “Exposing your retina to sunlight resets your circadian rhythm so your brain is on schedule.”
8. Watch a really sad movie
I know this seems counterintuitive, but research illustrates that watching a sad movie can trigger empathy and release oxytocin, which lowers stress levels and makes you feel good all over. If you have more than 10 minutes, browse through Netflix and see if you can find a real tearjerker, like Blue Valentine. If you need something quick, watch this really sad gum commercial.
9. Get some lavender scented lotion
I have a lavender version of just about everything: shampoo, soap, bubble bath, lotion, lip balm, and even Febreeze. Lavender has natural soothing qualities (it’s believed to reduce cortisol levels—that’s your stress hormone), and it will definitely help you feel a little less frazzled.
Just because you’re a grown ass woman, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t own a journal. Writing down what’s bothering you helps tremendously. Let it all out. I promise it will be cathartic.
(Image via NBC)