(Originally written for thoughtspoken.com and appears on that site.)
I don’t know about you, but there are times when I feel like I’m going to blow apart at every seam. Not that I actually have seams, but you know what I mean.
Do you ever feel completely overwhelmed, either because your plate is too full — and no, I don’t mean your food plate, but if that overwhelms you, then maybe it counts — or because things just keep spiraling out of control?
Because let’s face it. Sometimes that out-of-control feeling is a direct response to your emotional state at that moment. And when you feel like you’re spinning uncontrollably, you need to get centered. And quickly.
These days we are continually bombarded from all directions. I’m sure every generation has felt this way, but there’s no denying that technological advancements in communication have added to the fray. The constant dings and dongs of text messages, emails, our phones constantly pinging, leave us in a state of always on.
Technology is a good thing, to be sure, but I often wonder what we’re sacrificing for the convenience of instant communication. Setting boundaries can help, but let’s face it. Many people don’t place those limitations. Is it any wonder we feel like we’re bouncing off the walls?
Now, more than ever, it’s important to put on the brakes, turn off the sound onslaught, and just breathe. Without feeling like you’re slacking off. It’s vital to both your mental and physical health. Learning to de-stress is just as critical as any other task you deem necessary.
Maybe more so.
But how can you find time to de-stress in your busy life? And even if you find the time, what should you do?
Lucky for you I do have a few ideas.
Easy Ways To Unclutter Your Mind and De-Stress
1. Give yourself permission to take downtime.
It’s easy to feel you just don’t have the time to take a break. You keep going and going even when you feel like you’re about to explode. But ignoring these feelings only leads to mistakes and sloppiness, which adds to your stress because now you have to correct things. Your temper flares. You snap at people when you otherwise wouldn’t.
But taking a break when you’re on the verge of a meltdown, taking a step back and away, can be a game changer. You’ll come back ready to dive back in. Minus the mistakes and sloppiness of before.
2. Go for a walk, or maybe even a run.
Now, I’m not a runner, though I’ve been toying with the idea of becoming one. But that’s a story for another day. Runners do report that a good run helps clear their head and allows them to unwind and de-stress.
But if the thought of running is a turnoff, consider going for a walk instead. You’ll still reap many of the same benefits of running. You get out in the fresh air. You detach, for a little while, and redirect your focus on your breathing. You’ll get your blood pumping. You’ll feel invigorated.
The change of scenery is bound to do you good. You’ll go back to your tasks and responsibilities much better able to cope. You’ll feel better and so will everyone around you.
I’ve recently discovered the power of meditation. And no, I’m not sitting on a hilltop in a lotus position repeating Ohm over and over again. I’m just turning off my phone, sitting on the sofa with my headphones on, and chilling out.
I use an app called Calm. And yes, it’s on my phone, but all my other sounds are turned off. You can choose to do a guided meditation or just listen to soothing sounds or music. You can meditate for as little as two minutes, or for several hours. You can go as long as eight hours, but I doubt you’ll need that long. I can’t even wrap my mind around that one. But even a five- or 10-minute break will do wonders.
Since I’ve started meditating for just 10 minutes a day, I’m falling asleep faster and sleeping more deeply. I don’t know if meditation is the reason, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
4. Take a hot bath, maybe even throw in some Epsom salts.
Nothing is more relaxing than soaking in a warm bath. Warm showers are good too, but there’s something about reclining in a hot tub, maybe with the lights dimmed, a few candles burning, if you’re of a mind. Possibly even a glass of wine and some relaxing music.
As I write this, it suddenly strikes me that the Calm app might be perfect for this. And by the way, there’s also a desktop version. I’m a huge fan of Calm.
Take a while to just let your tension ease away. Add some Epsom salts, if you like. They have their own powers of relaxation, not to mention some great health benefits.
When things just feel way out of control, retreat to a warm tub and soak. There’s a reason for the old commercial slogan, Calgon, take me away.
The verb, not the noun. 🙂 I’m not being facetious when I suggest that you color. There’s an entire market devoted to coloring books for adults, and those wonderful feelings as you sat and created all those beautiful pictures as a child can be recaptured again. You can totally lose yourself in the moment.
Get your creative juices flowing while you unwind.
6. Do yoga.
Yoga has been my favorite anecdote to stress. I do an hour of yoga first thing every morning, and while I can’t promise that it keeps me in a perpetual zen state, I have noticed my sleep is improved, and I just feel healthier overall.
And, if stress is knocking at your door, knocking it down even, then a yoga break can be a welcome respite. It forces you to breathe long, deep breaths. You stretch and unkink your muscles. Yoga is hard to beat as an excellent de-stressor.
7. Work Out.
A good exercise session will help zap stress and even make you forget what was bugging you in the first place. There’s something about punching and kicking that really helps you work out aggression.
And if you lift weights, you’re forced to concentrate on what you’re doing, not on what was stressing you out.
Next time you’re feeling like the walls are caving in, take a workout break. I guarantee it’ll make you feel remarkably better.
Being always tethered to technology has become a hot button of mine of late. Most of us are so connected to our phones and other devices that we feel lost without them. But as much as you feel you can’t live without them, they are most definitely a cause of stress. They ding and light up with notifications. Which you can turn off, but even then, you find yourself wondering what you’re missing.
For many, and I count myself among them, the addiction has become so deep-seated that it’s an effort to unplug and disconnect. But you need to learn to do it. You weren’t meant to be tied to machines.
Get back to nature. Live in the moment, minus the constant, mostly minor, updates. If something is important, it’ll still be there when you reconnect.
9. Listen to music.
Music helps me de-stress so well, and the sad part is I don’t listen to music often enough. And it’s so easy to include music in your life nowadays, and yes, those devices I just maligned can be a huge help in this area.
Ideally, you’d unplug everything else and just listen, but putting on music while you perform other tasks can help you unwind and make the job that much easier.
I know people who listen to music even when writing. As long as it doesn’t compete with what you’re doing, which would be a stressor, go for it. Music can tame the savage beast, even if that beast is you.
10. Call a friend.
Sometimes the best medicine is talking with a good friend or family member. Even if you just chit chat and talk about silly things, it helps you de-stress and relax.
Laughing with a friend, sharing your day, even a bit of a bitch-fest can be therapeutic. Just try to avoid the temptation to do nothing but complain and moan and groan.
Friendship is good for the soul. Reach out to your friends when you need some uplifting. They’re often the best medicine.
Find Your Best De-Stressor
Whatever you do to unplug, unwind, decompress, and de-stress, don’t feel guilty about doing it. Your happiness, your productivity on the job or at home, even your physical health, all improve when you allow yourself to walk away and take a break from stress.
And your friends and family will thank your for it as well. After all, if you’re happy, chances are pretty darned good they’ll be happier in your company.
And if that’s not reason enough to make time to de-stress, I don’t know what is.
What about you? What are some or your favorite ways to de-stress? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Share them in the comment section below.