Whether you’re looking at your day-to-day life, what’s happening in the country or even what’s happening in the world, one thing is for sure: Uncertainty is everywhere, and where there is uncertainty, there is stress. Some days you are able to push it onto the back burner, but other days it creeps up your throat and sits there until you can’t breathe. The good news: No one is alone in these feelings. Every single person experiences stress. And there are steps you can take on a daily basis to help your mind and your body better deal with current stress and respond to future stress. Here are four of the easiest and most effective.
Carve Out Me Time
Me time can be anything you want it to be—the only requirement is that you are using the time for something that makes you feel good. Not your kids, not your spouse, not your coworkers, just you in your happy place. Even if you feel like you can’t dedicate more than a couple minutes a day, take those couple minutes to read a book or listen to music or head outside to feel the sun on your face. Doing something just because it makes you happy is like pushing pause on all your to-dos and worries, allowing your mind and your body to relax and recharge. Bonus: Here’s how to create your own personal sanctuary in your apartment.
Get Your Sweat On
Making exercise a regular part of your routine—whether that’s working out in your apartment, in the fitness center, or taking on-site or virtual group classes with P4LF—can go far towards reducing your stress. When you move, your body produces endorphins, or mood-boosting hormones. Exercise actually helps regulate a number of hormones, including reducing stress hormones and increasing those that help you sleep, and getting enough sleep will also help lower stress levels. What’s more, while you may think of stress as primarily a mental and emotional phenomenon, it has a powerful physical component as well. People hold stress in their muscles (the areas around the shoulders and neck are most common) and exercise can help stretch and loosen these areas to release the stress held there.
Find Your Om
Study after study has proven the benefits of meditation for reducing stress and improving mental health. And no longer does meditation require sitting cross-legged with your eyes closed and chanting out a mantra. In fact, you can meditate anywhere, for any length of time, in any state that you’d like. The only requirement is that you stop thinking about the stressors of the day and focus on the present moment. One good way to do this is using a practice called mindfulness, which just means that you’re taking a moment to notice the things around you, like the leaves blowing by outside your window or the giggles of your children as they watch their favorite cartoon. Stress, especially when it is prompted by outside factors, can take you out of your body and away from the present. Meditating for just a minute at a time will teach you to come back into and appreciate the present.
If you can’t get behind the ideas of stillness and mindfulness, you can take the opposite approach. In most cases, big, existential causes of stress can make the smaller stresses, like the pile of unfolded laundry in your living room, seem much larger and scarier than they really are. And while there may not be much you can do about that existential crisis, there is a lot you can do about your to-dos. The first: Make a plan. If figuring out what to cook for dinner every night is something that makes you anxious, try to plan out dinners on Sunday for the entire week so that you aren’t floundering when 6:00pm rolls around. Better yet, choose recipes that you can double and enjoy the leftovers as a second supper, or others that you can make and freeze. It’s true that plans don’t always pan out, but simply having one in place is certain to bring your stress levels down.
Power For Life Fitness has the tools you need to help you reduce your stress levels. Follow along with us on Instagram or Facebook to stay inspired, and to learn more ways you can stay stress free all year long.