5 Ways To Lower Your Stress Levels and Become The Calmer, More Zen, YOU.
At this point, I think we can all agree that life in 2020 is INCREDIBLY stressful. I can go on and on about how horrible this year has been for so many reasons. Many have lost their lives, we’ve had terrifying environmental issues, an increase in depression and anxiety as a society, lost jobs, an immature and negligent businessman telling us how to run our country, and so so so much more. But I’m not here to remind you of all your problems, let’s take a step back and see, instead, how we can at least get by for the time being *while being thoughtful* and implement some self-care strategies.
Most are unaware of the outstandingly stressful environment I live in, and I’ve found that while I have to deal with my day-to-day regardless, I can either live in anxiety everyday or I can try to combat it to make best of what my current situation is.
Here are my top 5 helpful tips to bring a sense of relief immediately to your brain :).
Yeah, I know, cliché. But, some of the oldest traditions are old because they work. I don’t care what you do to get your body moving but just DO it.
I like to get up really early in the morning and get my workout in then. Like, I’m talking 5AM. My mind is still waking up and doesn’t give me an excuse to not get my workout in because it’s still trying to figure out why my body is deciding move.
But, don’t JUST go through the motions. I want you to get therapeutic with your workout. My usual go-to for this is lifting weights but since the gym isn’t a viable option, cardio is just as good. I literally imagine what is stressing me out, pissing me off, making me anxious, making me sad (whether it be a person or a situation) and imagine it through my workout. As my adrenaline rises, the energy I put into my workout increases as if I’m directly taking it out on that situation/person. THIS IS EFFECTIVE, TRY IT. Push until you don’t have any more energy in you.
This literally helps me get through some of my toughest situations because I exhaust my emotions enough to not allow them to run my head down all day. It’s like putting my thoughts on hyperdrive and physically getting it out of my body. I promise you’ll feel better after this in some capacity. Plus, you’ll increase your endorphins too. And, who doesn’t love a good natural happy boost.
If you’re one of those who says meditating isn’t for you, then you just haven’t found your right form of meditation yet. Don’t knock it until you try it and try all the different ways.
Like a monk
Or a martial artist ;). We can go the traditional route and what you may picture when you hear the word meditation. Yes, cross-legged, palms facing the sky resting on your knees, eyes-closed and sometimes even a light consistent hummmmmmmmmmmmmmm. . . You can also do this to relaxing music or uplifting energy frequencies like 4HZ (YouTube it). Some say listening to these frequencies instantaneously make them feel better. If your a skeptic, pull up a YouTube, close your eyes and give it a try. Don’t forget the breath work. Consistent inhales and exhales are key.
This may all work work for some, and for others it’s definitely NOT the first way to attempt meditation. Here are some other suggestions.
Listen to a guided meditation
Sometimes it’s difficult to try to get our own thoughts to quiet down and we need someone to lead us in the right direction. You can easily YouTube these as well, or listen to them through an app. (i.e. the Calm app).
Focus in on something consistent
Have you ever watched a video that was the same scene consistently and it made you feel relaxed if you stayed around long enough? Zoning in on a consistent flow of energy can help you slip into a form of meditation. One of my favorite phone apps to do this with is called Music Zen, but there are plenty out there.
Do a SIMPLE activity that relaxes you
Emphasis on the simple. Going back to the consistentcy thought for a second, if you can pick an activity that has consistent motion, patterns, etc., and do it for a specific amount of time, or until you feel your thoughts drifting away and your focus only on that activity that brings ease to your mind then you are also engaging in a form of meditation. Perhaps even coloring in a coloring book.
If you’re unsure of what this is or how to do it – let’s start with something simple. Have you every day dreamt? Specifically about something you want to happen, your goals, your future desired achievements. Maybe it’s a big house, a happy family, a successful career. Whatever it is, have you ever delve more deep into that. Picture what it would look like, be like, feel like? This is a great technique to start out with to get you back into the right mindset and path for yourself and it can be fun. While it seems like it may take away your focus, it can actually re-align your focus :).
Simple, Yet Effective Actions
Take some simple, yet effective actions
- Take an ice cold shower, or at least turn the shower to cold for the last minute of your shower and let your entire head immerse in it.
- Eat something spicy. Weird, but scientifically proven to increase your endorphins.
- Get up and take a walk. If you are home, force yourself to take a walk around the block. If you’re at work, take a quick stroll around the office. Stretch your legs, get some motion in your body and change your immediate environment.
- Write it down. If it’s about a person – then pretend you are writing them a letter and get everything out you’re feeling without actually sending it. Or just journal what you’re going through and get it down tangibly on paper.
- Increase the consistency in your life, even by one thing. There are very few people we can rely on entirely and unconditionally in our lives. One person that will always be there tried and true is yourself. Take care of yourself, and show up for yourself. Choose one thing you can commit to everyday, even if it is small, like getting up at the same time every day, taking a certain vitamin everyday, or reading 20 minutes a day. Whatever it is, show up for yourself and do it. When you learn you can rely on yourself, you can take on much more, mentally and emotionally.
- Change YOUR perspective. I have a real simple trick. Let’s say someone in your family is infuriating you to no end. You feel like you’re going to explode on them (I’m sure plenty of us have felt like this during the pandemic). What if, they were gone tomorrow? Does what you are so angry about still matter? If not, try to move on and let it go. The same can be done for a stressful circumstance. What’s the positive there? What would be a way worse alternative?
If you don’t feel you can handle things on your own right now, there’s no shame in that. Getting some help is completely valid and should be more normalized.
Traditional therapy is always a good go-to, but may not be the most viable option right now and can be expensive if it is not covered under your insurance.
One great application, many of my friends/peers have flocked too, especially during the pandemic is called BetterHelp. You can speak to a licensed therapist and choose someone that specializes in an area/focus you need help in. Many of these therapists also have their own practices and have joined BetterHelp to bring help to those in need during these times and offer more options. This is a much more inexpensive option and the cost of 4 sessions in the month can be the cost of just one session without insurance or even less for traditional therapy. You can message, video call or phone call which opens up even more options for those uneasy about the process. Check it out :).
Why is therapy good for everyone
We all have tough circumstances and different situations going on. Being able to talk it out with someone who is not a friend/family can sometimes just be theraputic in itself. Venting to friends/family is great, but sometimes can feel redundant and cumbersome. Especially, if it has to do with them, or a repetitive situation (like work, home life, of just simply how you feel day to day).
Nothing good comes from bottling up anything. And I can say that with complete certainty. Doesn’t matter what it is, if its weighing you down, it needs to come out. We are meant to feel light on the inside and while that may barely happen for us, it is something we should be working towards. Spiritually, emotionally and mentally as human beings. Life is heavy, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept it that way.