Many people deal with stress every day. Work, family issues, health concerns, and financial obligations are parts of everyday life that commonly contribute to heightened stress levels.
Here are things in my stress management “toolkit” that I rotate through regularly.
Some more often than not, depending on how I feel.
I hope they will help you through whatever you are going through at the moment or if you ever feel stressed in the future.
Get more sleep.
Prioritizing your sleep is not something that lazy people do. Making sure we get enough sleep is like making sure you drink enough body – you’re treating your body right. You’re giving yourself time to recharge. You allow your brain to take a rest and come back on a full battery. There is nothing wrong with that! Let yourself rest. You’ll notice a huge change in your ability to function.
Eat food that makes you feel good.
Let’s not drift into food shaming here. When I say food that makes you feel good, that’s exactly what I mean! If you want that amazing-smelling burger on the menu or a bowl of ice cream, get it! If the day feels more like a salad kind of meal, then go for it! The best thing to do for yourself is to do the thing that will make you feel happy, energized, and alive.
Indulge in a “guilty” pleasure.
I don’t actually like the term guilty pleasure… but I’ll use it so that you catch my drift. Do something that you usually feel guilty about doing, except replace your guilt with only pleasure! Love the fact that you are enjoying doing a particular thing. Tell yourself you don’t need to experience shame for taking care of yourself.
Exercise in a fun or calming way.
I have such a difficult time exercising. The gym felt like prison… where I was completely incompetent and would leave in more pain than I felt was necessary. Running never worked out for me. And taking organized workout classes felt like summer camp on steroids. These activities simply weren’t my thing. I like to take a long walk in the forest with my dog. It’s peaceful and we both get to exercise, my dog and I ♥
Find an exercise that makes you feel better when you’re done with it… and you’ll wish you would have started sooner.
Take a bath.
Baths are the be-all and end-all of self-care, to me. Water is so healing. And to be completely submerged in it… Makes everything else seem insignificant at the moment. The steam, the scent, the sound, and the warmth truly help to calm the mind and rejuvenate the soul. Add your favorite bubble bath, body wash, candles, and essential oils to create your own sanctuary!
Relax and detox in a sauna.
This takes the bath idea to the next level. If you’re a member of a commercial gym, you’ve got this at your fingertips. Let the toxins emerge from your skin, and you’ll leave the sauna feeling like a new person!
Have a deep conversation with a supportive loved one.
There’s nothing a beautiful conversation can’t heal! Taking the time to talk about a deep and meaningful topic with someone special can light up your life.
Write about your thoughts and feelings in a journal.
If there are things in your life you’re not ready to talk about with other people, not even those close to you, a journal can become your new best friend. If it doesn’t make it to the BFF list, it will definitely become a wonderful source of peace and reflection in your life.
Watch a movie alone.
Don’t ask anyone else what they want to watch. Don’t worry about anyone saying you can’t get a bag of popcorn. Watch exactly what you want, when you want! Take yourself out.
11. Go to the beach or to a location near the water by yourself.
This is like the bath option times ten. Sit by the water, or better yet, put your feet in! Enjoy the air, the scent of the ocean, the feeling of the sand…
Sit in silence and focus on your breathing from your core.
You can do this meditation anywhere. Empty your mind and focus on the movement of air into and out of your lungs.
Create a relaxation playlist or find a pre-made one online.
Listening to music is one of my favorite ways to relax. I’ve found my core “feel-good” genres: 90s R&B, white noise, green noise, light meditation music… But you have to find the music that works for you. Play the song, and pay attention to how it makes you feel. You’ll know if it brings up happiness or relaxation or tension for you.
Close your eyes and rest for five minutes.
We forget that oftentimes, all we need is five minutes to decompress. Closing our eyes eliminates so much information that we take in. By closing our eyes, we limit the amount of stimuli we can pay attention to.
Learn and perform acupressure on yourself.
If you suffer from headaches, performing acupressure on yourself is something you NEED to incorporate into your self-care routine! It made my life so much better. Knowing how to ease your pain and induce your relaxation is completely invaluable.
Get a massage.
When you don’t want to take part in soothing yourself, getting a massage is the next best thing. Schedule an appointment and get on that table!
Take a walk in nature.
Walking my dog gives me so much happiness. But walking her in a chaotic place is not part of that pleasure. I love taking her to the forest. The trees and grass offer such a connection, and watching my dog have a great time is an amazing feeling for me. Spending time in nature, and observing the energy around you can fuel the rest of your day.
Plan an evening of rest: no to-do’s or rushing around.
Make this as special of an event for yourself as possible. Turn it into a celebration. Count down the days to your evening of rest. Get yourself balloons… or some other celebratory decoration that you enjoy. And refuse to think about anything you have to do the next day. Be in the moment.
Take a class you’ve always wanted to take (cooking, martial arts, music…).
Do something new! Take a cooking class, join a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class, learn to play the piano… Surprise yourself. And don’t feel the need to become an expert – take the class to enjoy the activity and to learn more about yourself while participating.
Dance in your underwear to a favorite song.
For freedom’s sake.
Find something to be thankful for at the moment.
When we need to destress, sometimes all it takes is recognizing that there are amazing things in your life, right now. You don’t have to worry about what isn’t working because there is so much that you can express joy and gratitude for.
Watch your favorite movie (and turn off your distracting devices and social media).
I bet it’s been a while since you’ve watched a movie without touching your phone! Stay away from social media, and actually watch the movie, minute by minute.
Move your body, and stretch the tension away.
Sit in the sun and focus on how your body feels.
Most of us don’t get enough vitamin D. Spend some time in the sun and absorb the vitamins we don’t get enough of. Pay attention to the warmth on your skin, and smile knowing at that moment, the sun is all you need.
Spend time with your pets or with shelter animals who need love.
Giving love can be an amazing source of joy and relaxation. Giving that love to pets is even better! Witness the immediate joy your pet experiences when you give it love and attention.
Read inspirational quotes or listen to inspirational stories and speeches.
Quotes to help you feel like anything is possible.
Hug someone or something special to you.
Physical touch is an important part of communicating care and love to others. Spend a couple of minutes of your day intentionally hugging when you might not have taken the time for it before.
Watch the sunset while drinking a nice beverage.
Because sometimes the pure beauty of a sunset is enough.
Sleep in, and feel good about it.
Why do we feel guilty when we sleep in? So often, we feel we have to make excuses and justify getting an extra hour or two of sleep… Let’s move beyond just getting enough sleep, and let ourselves enjoy a little extra relaxation when we have the time!
Incense in a sacred space can elevate your emotions quickly. Find your favorite scent and light up! Maybe combine your incense with another self-care practice on this list. Light incense and take a bath. Yes! Do that!
Write a list of 10 things you love about yourself.
Let’s not wait for other people to say sweet things to us. No one knows you better than you do, so take the time to appreciate the amazing things you do on a daily basis. Writing it down can add another layer of appreciation. When you read through the list at a later date, you can relive the feelings you experienced when writing it for the first time, and you’ll know for sure that the love you have for yourself is unparalleled.
Take a drive to a beautiful place.
Research a beautiful location. Find a place to hike, a bridge to sit on, a lake to skip rocks at, or a hill where you can see the lights of a big city. Or maybe you think none of those suggestions are beautiful and you’d rather sit in a mall. It doesn’t matter. The point is to find a place you think is beautiful and spend some time there. The drive to get to this place should also be relaxing – because you know your intention once you’ve reached your destination is to enjoy the space.
Declutter your living space.
Remove things that no longer serve you, truly does create space for better things to enter. Try it.
Go on a coffee (or tea) date with yourself.
Take yourself out to a coffee shop or create your own coffee shop atmosphere in your home. Play light jazz music, enjoy the scent of your coffee, and sip it while people-watching or reading.
Check-in with yourself. Ask yourself: “What do I need today?” Then, go do that thing!
We can become so distracted by taking care of necessities for ourselves and other people, that we forget to fulfill our own seemingly insignificant needs. Ask yourself what you need to make your day feel worth it, and you’ll find an answer. Don’t let yourself down once you ask the question. Be sure you schedule a time to do whatever that thing is. And don’t create a cop-out necessity – where you do something for someone else and say that it’s also helping you. Really do something that YOU need for yourself. Move yourself from the bottom of the list to the top.
Bake your favorite treats for no reason other than the fact that you want to.
It doesn’t have to be your birthday. Make some brownies or cupcakes!
Get dressed up and take selfies for fun. Don’t post them unless it makes you feel good to do it.
Because you don’t need a reason to doll yourself up.
Watch or read something that makes you laugh.
Comedy cures even the most stressed soul.
Sing – by yourself or with your favorite duet partner.
Break out your happiness playlist and a microphone! Or a hairbrush…
Write yourself a love letter.
You always hear about couples asking each other “Why do you love me?” but how often do we ask ourselves this question? You might be surprised about what you find when you let yourself open up.
Experience little self-pleasure.
Some things simply don’t need any more explanation.
Sketch, paint, or color.
Let your creativity take control. Don’t worry about being “bad” or “good” at creating. Just do it because it’s fun and (maybe) new.
Plant flowers, plants, or vegetables.
Nurturing your plants or vegetables or flowers – so that you can watch them grow can be so peaceful. And if you plant vegetables, you’ll have an abundance of yummy things to eat as a result of taking time for yourself! Total win-win situation.
Light heavenly scented candles.
I. Love. Candles. To me, a candle shifts the energy of a room in seconds. Light candles when you’re trying to get through a difficult task. The scent and the flame will offer some peace.
Take a shower with dim lighting and your relaxation playlist
Seriously, guys. Do it and thank me later.
Write a letter forgiving yourself for something you’ve been upset about.
Sometimes our stress can come from an internal space, and when this happens we might not want to spend time with ourselves. Take the time to write a letter forgiving yourself for anything that’s been troubling you. Ask yourself why you’ve been punishing yourself for doing the best you could at the time. Release the negative energy and begin to focus on letting go of the heavy emotions. Realize that you’re human. That you’re allowed to make mistakes. And that you’re evolving more and more every day. Allow yourself the space to grow.
Because the universe has answers to questions we haven’t even thought of yet.
Visit an art museum.
Because art also has answers… but it offers many more questions. And because of the questions, you might begin to think about life in a new way.
Incorporating the above tips into your day-to-day life will help you build resilience and help when you are stressed.
By tuning in and listening to your mind and body, you will learn to recognize stress’s impact on your life.
Yes, there will always be some stress, but by recognizing the signs early and acting on them before it worsens, you’ll make sure it doesn’t have a lasting impact on your health.