In today's day and age, feeling constantly stressed out is unavoidable.
Or is it?
What if I told you:
You can reduce your stress by making a few simple changes.
In today’s post, I’m going to show you how to relieve stress.
When I met with a nutritionist a few months ago, I learned that I had symptoms of adrenal fatigue.
After years of chronic stress, my body was struggling to keep up.
Three or four times per year I was burning out and getting sick.
I was waking up exhausted.
Despite drinking coffee throughout the day, I was having a huge energy crash around 2 or 3 pm every day.
I was using food for emotional support.
After answering a lot of questions about my life, my nutritionist told me that my primary focus for getting healthy would be:
So for the past four months, I've been actively working on reducing and managing my stress.
Things haven't been perfect, but I've learned a lot about how to relieve, reduce, and manage stress. I’m excited to share what I’ve learned with you today!
9 Easy Ways to Relieve Stress and Anxiety:
1. Get more sleep.
I didn’t know that it was abnormal to wake up exhausted until my nutritionist told me.
It was during the first meeting with my nutritionist that she gave me a homework assignment:
Get more sleep.
She told me that getting more sleep was the only way to heal and recover from years of chronic stress.
It didn't matter how many hours of sleep I was getting already, it wasn't enough.
If you're stressed out, it is taking a toll on your body.
How severe the impact is depends on how much time your body has to recover and heal from it.
To get more sleep, you have to set a bedtime.
To set your bedtime, you need to think backwards and answer the following questions:
What time do you want to wake up?
How many hours of sleep do you want to get?
How long does it take you to fall asleep?
How long does it take you to get ready for bed?
Are there things you need to do around the house before you go to bed? How long do they take?
Once you answer those questions, you'll know when you need to go to bed.
As an example:
What time do you want to wake up? 6:00 AM
How many hours of sleep do you want to get? 8 hours = 10:00 PM
How long does it take you to fall asleep? 30 minutes = 9:30 PM
How long does it take you to get ready for bed? 30 minutes = 9:00 PM
Are there things you need to do around the house before you go to bed? How long do they take? Yes, need to load the dishwasher, tidy up, and set out clothes. 30 minutes. = 8:30 PM
Now you know that you need to start getting ready for bed at 8:30 PM to get the sleep you need.
To make sure you don't forget, I recommend that you set an alarm on your phone to go off every day at that time.
I have my alarm go off 5 minutes before that as a little "warning" to myself that I need to wrap up whatever I'm doing. I have the alarm set to go off Sundays through Thursdays.
Another key part of getting more sleep is knowing when to let yourself sleep in.
Some nights, for whatever reason, I don't go to bed early enough. Instead of forcing myself to wake up at the same time the next morning, I let myself sleep in an extra 15 or 30 minutes if I can.
I now choose to get more sleep over anything else I might normally do in the mornings. I choose sleep over working out. I choose sleep over meditating. I choose sleep over journaling. I now choose sleep over other activities when I need to.
As soon as I started prioritizing sleep, I noticed a difference.
Now, four months later, I wake up feeling refreshed. I don’t bounce off of the walls hyper like my husband does, but I do feel incredibly different.
I don’t feel like I have to snooze the alarm multiple times and I don’t feel like I’m starting my day feeling depleted.
I feel awake, refreshed, and ready to get the day started!
2. Do a brain dump.
Stress starts in your head.
When you're feeling stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed, the best thing to do is a brain dump.
Doing a brain dump, or stream of consciousness journaling, is easy and fast.
Grab a journal or piece of paper, a pen, and start writing whatever comes to mind. Don't overanalyze what you're writing... let it flow.
When you write out your thoughts, you'll feel a sense of release. You're letting these thoughts, feelings, frustrations, and fears go.
You'll realize you were thinking or feeling things you didn't even realize. This is your chance to acknowledge, confront, or address those feelings and thoughts.
The key is to trust the process and let the words flow out of you without stopping them.
You may not end up with a solution for everything that comes up, but you will feel better.
I find stream of consciousness journaling so helpful that I actually do it one to two times per day.
Click here to learn about my journaling habit and download a free journaling printable.
3. Take a break.
When you're feeling stressed, take a break. Leave your desk and go do something that will give you good vibes.
If you work from home, you can go take five minutes to cuddle with your dog. Or you can even go take a fifteen minute nap if there's time.
If you work in an office, go take a walk outside of your building or go grab a beverage from the break room. Walk around the building and socialize with your coworkers.
What you do is up to you, but the act of getting up and taking a break with do wonders for your mood and mindset.
It doesn't matter if you only have five minutes or if you have an hour - it all makes a difference.
You can even schedule your breaks in advance by putting them on the calendar!
I recommend getting up and moving around at least once every hour.
4. Take a bath or shower.
If you're feeling stressed or anxious towards the end of the day, go take a hot bath or shower to relax.
Go the extra mile to make this a relaxing experience.
This is you time.
When you get in the bath or shower, take it slow. Experience the moment. Let go of the stress. Enjoy it.
After thirty minutes in an epsom salt bath, you'll feel like a new person and ready to get a good night's sleep.
5. Go on a walk outside.
When you're stressed out it can be easy to skip a work out.
The good news is that according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America:
Psychologists studying how exercise relieves anxiety and depression suggest that a 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute workout.
Not only can a walk give you the same benefits as a workout, it also helps clear your mind.
Walking outside for ten to twenty minutes will give you a fresh perspective.
A lot of people listen to podcasts or books while walking, but I recommend that you don't listen to anything.
Be outside. Listen to the noises around you. Take it all in.
You don't need to learn something else during this walk.
You don't need to be productive during this walk.
6. Light a candle or diffuse essential oils.
If you're feeling stressed or anxious, take advantage of your nose to change your mood.
According to Psychology Today:
"Scents can have positive effects on mood, stress reduction, sleep enhancement, self-confidence, and physical and cognitive performance"
Light a candle or diffuse essential oils while working to help feel less stressed.
If you can't light a candle where you work, see if you can use a candle warmer instead.
No matter where you work, it is worth it to use scents to help you relax and feel more positive.
I love diffusing essential oils so much that I have a diffuser in every room. I've also made it part of my morning routine to start the diffuser as soon as I wake up.
7. Take deep breaths.
When you’re in a particularly stressful moment, you need to stop what you're doing and take a few deep breaths.
Push out your chair, put your hands on your lap, and take 3-5 deep breaths in and out.
This won't get rid of what caused the stress, but it will help keep your feelings under control.
If you have a few minutes, you can also use a guided meditation app to help.
I use and recommend Headspace for breathing exercises and guided meditation.
8. Stop drinking caffeine.
When you're stressed out, you probably grab an extra cup of coffee or two throughout the day.
I understand because I used to do this too. In fact, crafting the perfect cup of coffee brought me so much joy in the morning.
What I didn't know until I read the book WomanCode, was that caffeine was wrecking havoc on my hormones.
I learned that as a woman, I don't need coffee. In fact, the coffee I loved was doing more damage than good.
So I decided to cut out coffee for four days and see how it felt.
To be honest, I didn't think I could go four days without coffee...
But to my surprise, it wasn't that hard to stop drinking coffee.
I noticed that I felt better and had more stable energy levels throughout the day.
I used to have an energy crash every afternoon around 2 or 3 pm, but now I don't.
Stressful situations don't cause me to get overly stressed or anxious. I'm able to handle these situations with a sense of calm and clarity.
While I may not always cut out coffee, the positive impact has been enough to keep me off of caffeine altogether.
Right now I drink non-caffeinated, herbal teas when I want something yummy to drink.
It is important to note that when I cut out coffee, I was supporting my body's energy levels in other ways.
I was eating a big breakfast and focusing on stabilizing my blood sugar throughout the day. I think this is why I didn't feel any withdrawal symptoms from cutting out caffeine cold turkey.
9. Set boundaries and stick to them.
To feel stressed out less often, you need to make one bigger change in your life:
You need to set boundaries.
Your boundaries will be specific to your life, work, and commitments.
To set effective boundaries, you may need to observe how things affect you for a few days.
What makes you feel stressed?
What makes you feel uncomfortable?
What makes you feel guilty?
What makes you feel overwhelmed?
What makes you feel anxious?
Take note of each time you feel one of those and what caused it.
They can be big or small. It might be working late at night, forgetting something, checking your email, etc.
After a few days, you'll be able to see a pattern of what gives you these negative feelings.
Now you need to set a boundary that will reduce or remove the impact of these situations.
Here are some examples of what boundaries can look like:
Working only from 8 AM - 5 PM.
No work-related apps get opened before 8 AM or after 5 PM.
Checking email only at 8 AM and 3 PM.
Getting off your phone at 8 PM.
No meetings on Tuesdays or Thursdays.
No more than 3 meetings on one day.
No work on the weekends.
No social media on the weekends.
No more than 30 minutes of social media per day.
Focused work time from 9 AM - 11 AM.
While setting boundaries is step one, the key is sticking to them.
You need to make a commitment to upholding these boundaries whenever possible.
Communicate these to team members or family members if necessary.
Save them on your phone.
Set an alarm on your phone to remind you when to get off of social media.
If you have an iPhone you can go into your Settings and go to Screen Time to set some of these boundaries for you. You can establish downtime, app limits, and more!
Sometimes you will have to break a boundary, but what matters is that it is the exception.
You will feel uncomfortable when you do and you won't want to let it happen again.
Now it’s your turn:
You’ve read about the 9 ways to reduce stress. Now it’s time to implement them!
The first step?
Leave a comment to let me know which one you’re going to try first.
Ready to get more sleep?
Or maybe you want to try cutting caffeine?
Either way, leave a quick comment below right now.
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