We’ve all felt it before. Pushed to the brink at work. Pulled in a million different directions. Stressed. And what we crave is the ability to unplug from it all. We need a way to de-compress.
It’s true that on our path to achieving extraordinary things, our lives can go out of balance. We may be spending extra time at work to get that new initiative off the ground, and because of the professional success we are seeking, we have far less time for the people who matter most in our lives. Or maybe we’ve gone through a big change in our personal lives that’s preventing us from having the time we need at the office. While good things happen at the extremes in our lives, when we experience them, we likely have a sense that the other things that are important to us have fallen by the wayside.
When we look to accomplish exceptional things in our professional and personal lives, it’s easy to let the stress get to us. Oftentimes, we forget to stop and give ourselves the attention and self-care we all need. If this is you or someone you know, we’re here to help. It doesn’t take a total life reboot — just some simple changes that almost anyone can incorporate into their lives.
1. Get Outside
Not too long ago, a study conducted in California asked participants to spend 90 minutes walking through an area full of greenery, and others to walk near a four-lane, traffic filled street. The nature walkers experienced a decrease in their gloomy feelings, while the urban walkers experienced no change in mood.
Take a work break and get outside for a few minutes of fresh air. Even better, find a local park or nature trail where you can decompress after work or on the weekend. Not only will your mental state thank you, but you’ll be better prepared to come back and knock your priorities out of the park with a clear mind.
2. Have “You Time”
We know what you’re thinking. You are so busy and stressed that you don’t have time to spend on yourself. But that is exactly why you need to. Giving yourself the opportunity to rest and rejuvenate is key to removing unnecessary stress from your life.
As we explained in Tuesday’s post, you may find the best “you time” can be found in the morning, before the rest of the world has woken up. Waking up 15 minutes early to do what you like to do – whether it’s sitting with the morning paper and a coffee, meditating, or taking a run around the block — will give you the time you need to focus on yourself. And to accomplish extraordinary things, you need to be the best possible you.
3. Be with Those you Love
It may not come as a surprise, but loving and supportive relationships are great for stress control.
In fact, one recent study showed that in children, having a best friend present in their lives during something unpleasant significantly decreased their stress and increased their feeling of self-worth. Other studies have found that those with strong relationships have a greatly reduced risk of mortality than those people who do not have social support.
If you’re stressed out, schedule some time with the ones you love. Whether it’s a nightly or weekly dinner with family or friends, an activity you do together, or even performing a simple task with your child so you can catch up on their day, reconnecting will prevent the stress you are feeling from isolating yourself from those you love. And if this is an area you want to improve on within your life, download our relationships guide here.
Exercise has an inevitable way of clearing our heads. When we exercise, our bodies release endorphins, which are “feel good” chemicals from our brains, and decrease stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. All of these reactions are great for lowering our stress levels.
Don’t think exercise will help you because you aren’t training for a marathon? Think again. Even a brisk nature walk (where you can also accomplish option #1!) can have the same positive impact on your stress levels.
5. Turn off the Technology
Technology can be a great thing, but at times it can also be a negative. Did you know that the light coming from the screens of LED-based devices, like phones, tablets, and computers increase the release of cortisol and negatively impacts the production of melatonin in our brains? This isn’t good for our sleep habits or for keeping our anxiety levels down. Compounded with what some researchers call “FOMO” or the “fear of missing out”, when we are not in direct contact with our devices, technology can contribute significantly to our stress.
Our suggestion to you is to build a habit of limiting your access to – or even turning off – your technology at least one hour before bedtime. While this may seem like a never-ending length of time for some, you can use our 66 Day Calendar to work up to it. Once you start, you’ll find yourself more relaxed and unwound at bedtime. And an added bonus is that being without your phone for a while in the evening may give you the courage to go without it sometimes during the day – allowing you to be more present for the moments that matter like enjoying nature and spending time with family and friends.
What simple tricks have you learned that help decrease your stress levels? We want to hear from you!