Big deadline looming? Worrying about family or friends? Juggling an insanely busy schedule? Modern-day stressors like these can add up—fast. And countless studies show that chronic stress can lead to a lot of physical and emotional problems. While it’s impossible to avoid stressful situations all the time, the good news is that, with a few strategies in place, you can learn how to manage the stress in your life.
1. Take a deep breath.
When you’re stressed out, your breathing becomes shallow. Taking a deep breath oxygenates the blood and works wonders in calming you down, clearing your mind and getting back in balance. If you have three to five minutes to spare, sit in a chair with your eyes closed and your feet flat on the floor. Concentrate on breathing in and out slowly and deeply.
2. Listen to music.
They say music calms the savage beast, and it does! Take some time every day to listen to your favorite tunes. Whether it’s calming or energizing, it’ll shift your mood in a good way.
3. Slice the salami!
Don’t get overwhelmed by the myriad of things you have on your to-do list. Instead of getting yourself in a frenzy and trying to do everything at once, focus on doing one thing at a time. When you’re done with that, move on to the next. In other words, slice the salami and take it one piece at a time!
4. Get your zzz’s.
It’s a vicious circle: if you’re stressed out, you can lose sleep. And lack of sleep can have a negative impact on how you handle stress. Do what you can to make it easier to fall—and stay—asleep. Try to shoot for getting between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening. Turn off the television at least an hour before bedtime. Transform your bedroom into calming retreat, and make it as dark as possible when you’re ready to go to sleep. If need be, wear a sleep mask.
5. Take a break from technology.
Between texting and emails, we are so plugged in it’s impossible to get a quiet moment. Take a few minutes, or even an hour, and turn off your gadgets. Close your eyes and enjoy the silence. If you really want a treat, try a tech-free weekend. Catch up on sleep, cook a great meal or finishing that novel you started six months ago.
6. Take a bath.
Can’t afford the time for a trip to the spa? Light some candles, turn on some relaxing music and take a long, relaxing soak in the tub. Up the calming benefits by adding some lavender oil or bath salts to the water.
Whether you go to a yoga class, get a chiropractic adjustment or indulge in a massage, stretching relaxes your body, calms your mind and relieves the everyday wear-and-tear you place on your muscles.
If you can’t get to the gym, even a few minutes a day of exercising will help get your blood moving and lift your mood. Walk or bike instead of driving whenever possible. Opt for the stairs instead of the elevator. Forego the parking spot closest to the store or movie theater and walk those extra few steps. If you’re at home, put on your favorite song and dance!
It’s the best medical news we’ve had in years: In small doses, dark chocolate is actually good for you! It’s loaded with antioxidants and contains heart-healthy and mood-enhancing phytochemicals, which are good for the mind and body. In fact, consuming small amounts of dark chocolate daily can reduce blood pressure in people who suffer from mild hypertension. Don’t binge, but when you’re feeling a little stressed, a piece of dark chocolate may be the answer you crave!
10. Take a 10 minute break.
Feeling the stress? Get up and take a break for 10 minutes. Go outside and take a walk around the block, work in your garden or call a friend who makes you laugh. It’s only a few minutes, but it’ll do you a world of good.