This time of year tends to bring about quite a bit of stress. We have all settled into our routines and our classes, our sports have begun and are getting intense, the homework is getting piled on, scholarships are being put out, the weather is becoming cold and getting darker (at least it is here in Minnesota), not to mention all the personal issues that we all deal with on some level… So today I felt inspired to share with you all a list with all sorts of different ways to relax and allow yourself to de-stress a bit! Even the most high-spirited, energy filled souls can get worn-out and use some TLC here and there! I tried to leave my suggestions very flexible and open to interpretation. Why? Because as I always say: You need to listen to your body! Do what works FOR YOU. If I made a list and everyone was able to follow it exactly and feel amazing, ‘feeling stressed’ wouldn’t be a thing. And anyways, what kind of an individual would you be if you did the exact same everything as the person next to you? I wrote this post in hopes to spark your creative side! My intentions are that you might read my ideas and that they may give birth to some of your own, or maybe they will give you something new to try that you haven’t ever considered! Many of these are similar to the suggestions I gave on my older self-care post, but that is because allowing yourself relaxation and escaping from stress is self-care! Stress takes a big toll on your body, effecting your thoughts, emotions, your behavior, health, your relationships… I could go on forever! So I want to be the first, or maybe the thousandth, to tell you this: If you are stressed, even if you feel that there is no time to stop and take a break, you NEED to stop and take a break. You have been working hard and deserve to nurture yourself a bit! Do not run yourself ragged, because if you do, eventually you will burn yourself out. Better to take that night off, enjoy life, and get back into the groove tomorrow than to try and keep pushing only to end up in a puddle of tears and frustration due to lack of sleep!
Have a Spa Night
Dipping into a tub of hot water with some bubbles, or maybe a bath bomb, is such a great way to allow your muscles to relax and to take your mind off of things. I love to turn on the radio or even set up my phone nearby and watch Netflix while I bathe so that I can lay there for at least an hour and just clear my mind. Pair this with a face mask, or a mani-pedi, and you will fall asleep with such ease! There is also an alternative side to a spa-night at home, which would be to go to a real spa! (If you are able to spare the expense, of course!) Treat yourself to a massage or a wrap because you definitely deserve it!
Now for some people this may not be much of a help, but for others, exercise is an amazing way to let all your emotions out. For instance, if you’re upset over a grade, take it out on the squat rack! Hit your fourth rep on the weight that you only were able to squat three reps with last week. Some people get a lot of energy build-up inside of them when they have a lot on their plate. Going for a long run may help them channel that energy somewhere else besides allowing it to sit inside of them, or even just a gentle walk around the block on tough days can sometimes be all I need to feel better. Another popular form of exercise these days, that is amazing for stress-relief, is yoga or even just stretching! I suggest you try this form of movement in some way or another because more and more studies are showing how beneficial these activities truly are for our bodies!
Have a Night-In
Depending on your personality type, this could look a few different ways. By night-in I am talking about those times when life is getting the best of you and staying home is what you know you need, more than you need your alternative plan to go to the party you had been considering earlier. So when your tasks for the day are finally done, make yourself a warm cup of tea or cocoa, light a few candles, and then crawl into bed and relax in whatever way you need. Some nights, for myself, that is watching a favorite movie of mine that allows me to get lost in the storyline of another (a favorite being Safe Haven and/or anything Disney or Pixar). Other nights it is opening up my current read and being sucked into a whole different world. However, this night might mean for you that you’re going to cuddle with your pup, work on knitting the scarf you set down months ago, journaling, or maybe you just turn on your favorite Spotify playlist and zone-out. It is all about what speaks to your soul.
Have a GNO
I hope immediately when you read that line that Miley Cyrus’s old song, “GNO”, started playing in your head (or maybe that’s just me… #HannahMontanaFanForever). This is the opposite of the idea above, but like I always say, you need to do what is best FOR YOU! Maybe some people need a night alone to de-stress, but you might do much better spending a night out with your besties (or if you are me, you need a mix because some nights you are feeling extroverted and some nights you’re an introvert). Getting together with a pal, or quite a few, and just being girls, or guys, is so refreshing. It allows your mind to escape from your current stressors and just laugh over strange inside jokes that only your posse understands. You feel like you really fit in, like there are others that understand, like you and your friends rule the world.
This is one that is extremely open to interpretation. Treating myself usually means that I go to my favorite store and buy something that I would normally set back down. I know that I have friends who go to their favorite bakery and order the giant, double-chocolate cookie creation with extra chocolate, whipped cream, sprinkles, caramel, marshmallows, and every other form of sugar piled on top because they love it but don’t eat it everyday. To treat yourself is to gift yourself with something that you love, but do not allow yourself to have often. Your personality will determine this one, so look inside and decide what you love. On the days when you’re feeling defeated, take a time-out and pursue your version of a treat.
Do Something Nice for Someone Else
Although I believe that we should always strive to love one another, sometimes you really need to go out of the way for others. You may not always have time on the weekends to volunteer at a soup kitchen, or the animal shelter, but sometimes you might need to make time for it. Scheduling a few hours to help others is such an effective way to lift your mood and give you a new reason to smile. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing that you made a difference in someone else’s day. If time truly is an issue, there are plenty of other ways to accomplish this task. You can smile at a strange, pay for the person behind you in the drive-thru, or hold open the door for the crowd… Doing things for others are always worth the extra effort, not only to benefit yourself, but just because it is the right things to do.
Channel Your Inner Pinterest-Ness
I have quite a few different friends who love to take photos. I also have some friends who are big into DIY-ing it. I know that I love to bake treats! A great project to try, that I also currently have on my to-do list, is to create a dream-board. There is something so therapeutic about allowing your creative side to run wild and creating whatever type of art it is that speaks to your soul. You may know what you like to do, or maybe you need to log onto Pinterest and find a new hobby. Either way, there are plenty of crafts and activities out there that you can take some time out of your normal routine to try and accomplish, or to bake, and then eat(;
I think that this one is pretty self-explanatory. There are hundreds of studies out there that talk about the positive impacts that getting good amounts of sleep can have on our health. To just name a few of the benefits: increased memory and productivity, maximize your athletic performance, limit your risk for heart disease, stroke, and many other diseases and sicknesses, lessen your chance for depression, improve your mood, decrease inflammation, improve your social life… Should I continue on? I definitely could! However, I think you get the picture…. So please, for the sake of Pete, just put your phone down, and catch those zzz’s!
I don’t know about you, but I know that for me, technology can be such a major stressor in my life! Social media specifically can be so draining because it causes so many people to feel the need to validate themselves online and compare themselves to others. You also lose touch with the current reality, can ruin face-to-face relationships, and lose appreciation for so many simple life pleasures. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Instagram and connecting online can be really great and has many positives! However, sometimes, we give our devices a bit too much control over our lives. Taking a detox from your phone, TV, computer, or whatever it is, can be so good for you. It allows you to connect with yourself and the people around you, to experience life and to let go of the constant pressure of needing to seem perfect and be as perfect as the next person online. So why don’t you try just turning it all off for a night and enjoying whatever it is that really brings you joy.
I will forever be an advocate for journaling. There is nothing more relieving than when all the thoughts that are overtaking you are put down onto paper and your mind finally feels clear again. You may not always feel ‘cured’ after journaling, but at least you feel as though your emotions have been sent somewhere other than your own mind and you have some room to breathe again. I like to write down my emotions, current life events, sometimes I like to create little stories, or I even like to do what I call ‘paper prayer’. Whatever type of writing brings you relief, take part in it.
1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all of your anxieties on Him because He cares for you”. So, although prayer is apart of my daily life, it has become something I also go-to whenever I am stressing or I am worried. Why? Because just as the verse says, God cares for me, and He wants me to give Him all of my issues because He cares and He can solve them.
I am always looking for new ways to relax, to empty my mind, and to let go of all the tasks that try to suck the life out of me on a daily basis! If you have any good suggestions, feel free to comment them below! Another thing I always suggest to friends is to go onto Pinterest, Google, or wherever else and simply type in, ‘stress-relieving activities’. You will find hundreds, if not thousands of different ways to unwind. The activities I included above are just some that I can personally speak to! Hopefully you found this list helpful, or maybe you just found relief knowing you aren’t the only one who feels like they need to find an escape from the constant stresses in life! And if anything else, my email is just a few clicks away! Until next time my lovely friends!