It’s safe to say that 2020 wasn’t an easy year for anyone. Whether you faced a layoff, experienced a health scare, lost income or had financial plans derailed, you’re not alone. The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on many lives — causing stress levels and anxiety to soar.

Vaccinations have set the country on a path toward a new normal, alleviating some deep fears. But implementing de-stressing strategies can also help you to regain balance. The following tips prioritize self-care and mental health and will set you up for better and brighter days.

 

10 Best Ways to De-Stress

1. Organize your home

Clutter can slowly drain away your energy and reduce your mental capacity. Staying organized, however, is a therapeutic stress management tool which can help you reduce anxiety.

You don’t have to Marie Kondo your entire life or alphabetize your books to achieve a deeper sense of peace. Simple fixes such as removing clutter from your living spaces, getting rid of clothes you haven’t worn in years, or cleaning out your fridge can all help. Check out these tips on how to declutter a room in 30 minutes for ideas on ways to get started.

Not only will you feel like you have more control, but you’ll also have a boost of satisfaction each time you look at your newly organized pad.

2. Get into nature

Think of fresh air like free therapy you can get whenever you want. Simply spending time outside can help you slow down, practice mindfulness, and appreciate the smaller things.

There are also scientifically proven benefits to getting outside. Just 20 minutes in nature has been found to significantly lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Vitamin D — known as the sunshine vitamin — also helps your body function more efficiently.

3. Breathe

You’re only a few breaths away from a better frame of mind! Taking time out of your day to breathe can keep you calm despite life’s challenges.

Before starting your day, find a comfortable spot to sit down. Inhale air slowly through the nose for four counts, then exhale the air from your lungs for five counts. Practice five to ten rounds of deep breaths.

At night, gentle breathing and progressive muscle relaxation can help you get a deep and restorative night’s sleep, which is key to keeping your stress levels low.

If meditation is more your speed, take a look at apps like Calm or Headspace to help you relax, or use a little aromatherapy with essential oils to take your breathing exercises to the next level.

4. Get your heart rate up

Moving your body is one of the most significant ways to de-stress. When the body is in motion, a rush of endorphins is released, which alleviates tension. The health benefits of exercising daily also include lower blood pressure, lower risk for heart disease, improved mood, and a stronger immune system.

It doesn’t have to be intense physical activity, either. Even a 20-minute daily walk can do wonders for overall wellness.

5. Eat healthy

Beyond helping to keep your budget in check, there are many therapeutic reasons to make yourself a homemade meal.

Some health care clinics and counselors actually use “cooking therapy” as a relaxation technique to help people suffering with anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.

When you eat healthy, you also feel healthy— which can be especially helpful if you need to calm down. Pick a fun, new recipe from your Pinterest feed, preheat the oven and focus on the present.

6. Get creative

Grab your coloring book and colored pencils and get to work — but don’t worry about making a masterpiece. When you get lost in a physical activity like coloring, your body takes over and your mind loses track of cyclical thought patterns, which allows your cortisol stress hormones to rest. Giving your mind something simple to focus on also has de-stressing benefits such as relaxing your brain.

If coloring isn’t your jam, try journaling, dancing, doing a puzzle, or another hobby that gets you out of your head and into your body. When you are lost in your art, you may be surprised to notice that muscle tension melts away.

7. Stay on budget

This might sound like the opposite of de-stressing, but hear us out. Finances are one of the leading causes of stress, but getting your money in check can help you feel calmer and more in control.

Creating a budget is a great way to improve your financial situation. In addition to boosting your emotional well-being, budgeting may boost your bank account, as well. When you know where your money is going each month, it’s easier to figure out where to cut back.

8. Rethink your sleep schedule

Stress can make it difficult to fall asleep, and a poor night’s rest can cause stress. That’s one vicious cycle we’d all like to avoid, if possible.

Good sleep habits, such as keeping a regular sleep schedule, are key for feeling better. Avoid caffeine or alcohol in the evening, limit light and screen exposure, and make a pre-bedtime routine to help you fall asleep and experience a higher-quality snooze.

Aim to get a minimum of six hours of sleep each night, but try not to languish in bed for more than nine hours. You’ll wake up feeling less stressed, which is a great way to start a new day.

9. Talk to a friend

This is a quick but effective tip: Instead of scrolling through social media, connect with someone you love.

A phone call with a friend, family member or even a co-worker can offer you a reprieve from daily stressors. You may get a new perspective on your situation or a suggestion for how to approach a particularly tricky problem. And even if you don’t come away with any grand insights, you’ll hopefully have a little fun — which will automatically lower your stress levels.

If you’re always playing phone tag with a friend on the opposite coast, set up a phone date so that your schedules coincide. A heart-to-heart conversation can be one of life’s small gifts.

10. Listen to music

Listening to music is an easy way to find stress relief. In fact, studies have found that music therapy — the simple act of listening to music or playing an instrument — can have a positive impact on your mental health.

If you’re not sure where to start, hop online. Curated playlists with calming music can help you de-stress, but any song that evokes joy can do the trick. Pick a tune that always makes you smile, crank up the volume and have a dance party in your house. The right tune can alter your frame of mind and put you in a happier place.

 

Getting started

These de-stressing tips will help you find quick and easy ways to relax, take control of each day and embrace a positive attitude toward life. But don’t stress out about getting started either! If you want to up your wellness game, incorporate just one of these tips into your life each day, then observe how you feel.

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