I have always been one of those people that gets stressed out pretty easily. I have really been working on this issue for a while now, and I’ve made some serious progress. Controlling your stress levels is just as important as eating a healthy diet and exercising. Stress can affect everyone differently, and it can really wreak havoc on your immune system, nervous system, and even your waist line. It can affect just about everything in our bodies in some way or another, so I’ve learned some ways to control it. These have all really helped me, and I practice them daily.
Taking a few minutes every morning and afternoon to sit down, breathe deeply, and just push all thoughts out of your mind can do wonders for your stress levels. I used to think meditating was only for the hardcore hippies that said ‘OMMMM’, but it is so much more than that. If you just sit comfortably, find a place of calm, and focus on your breath, then you are meditating. No ‘om’ required. Start slow and only do a couple of minutes at a time, and then work your way up. There are tons of apps out there that can help you learn to meditate, a couple that I have tried are Headspace and Omvana.
I know, I know. The last thing you want to do when you are super stressed is go workout, but exercising will give you that flood of endorphins that will help ease that stress. Pick something you love to do, whether it is going for a run, taking a spin class, or going to zumba. Just make sure you love it and it won’t feel like exercise.
3. Get Enough Sleep
I have to have an adequate amount of sleep to be able to function like a normal person. If not, I tend to get sick and just feel run down in general. There are some people out there that can function on much less sleep (cough, my husband), but most of us need 7-8 hours a night. Your immune system will thank you. And plus, when you are sleep deprived, your levels of cortisol go up and increase your appetite, which in turn can make you have a hard time keeping weight off.
4. Take a hot bath
We all know how relaxing a bath can be. So throw some epsom salt in there to help you detox, and then put a few drops of lavender essential oils, you will be in bath Heaven in no time.
5. Use essential oils
My two favorites for relaxation are lavender and eucalyptus oil. Lavender will make you feel instantly relaxed and almost sleepy, while eucalyptus will help to relax and revitalize your mood. I use eucalyptus on my yoga students during savasana and they love it. Just put a tiny bit behind your ears and on your wrists and enjoy the benefits all day.
Yoga is my go-to when I’m starting to feel stressed. The second I feel anxious or overwhelmed, I stop what I’m doing (if I’m able to), and take a few minutes to do some of my favorite relaxing stretches and just breathe. It doesn’t have to be a full hour-long class if you don’t have time for that. As little as 10 minutes could have a positive impact. I will start with a minute or two of breathing, and then go into a few downward facing dogs, hip and back stretches, and my favorite, pigeon pose.
7. Practice Gratitude
I can’t tell you how much this has helped me over the last year. I have always been grateful for the life that I have, but when you really sit down and think about it and list out the things that you are grateful for, it really changes your perspective. God has truly blessed me with amazing people in my life, so when I start to feel anxious, I think about those people. I am also extremely grateful for my health (that has been a work in progress for a long time), and for my body that allows me to do the things I do.
8. Eat Right
You have heard this a thousand times, but eating a healthy diet will have a tremendous impact on your overall health. Getting enough nutrients everyday will help with stress levels by keeping your hormones in balance. Make sure you are drinking lots of water, and eating a variety of fruits, vegetables and healthy fats.
9. Spend Time with People You Love
Being around the people you love can lift your spirit and help stress levels. Make sure that you spend as much time as you can with people that uplift you and encourage through this crazy life we all live.
10. Do Something You Love To Do
Find a hobby! When you feel stressed, do something that you love to do! And whatever that is can be your outlet during stressful times. It can be anything from taking a class at the gym, going to get a pedicure, getting outside in nature, doing something artistic, anything that makes you happy!