5 Ways to De-Stress Today
You may have noticed a bit of tension brewing in the air as of late. On top of the regular daily grind, we are living in a time of division and uncertainty. No matter what beliefs you have, what bubble you live in, or what country you are thinking of moving to next, you are most likely feeling the stress.
Make a conscious choice to unwind. Here are a few simple ways to decrease your stress levels right now.
When we give to others we make ourselves happy. Give your time, money, energy, talents to help others and you will reap the benefits. Studies have shown that generosity decreases cortisol levels and increases endorphins. This is known as a "helpers high." The Dalai Lama encourages others to seek happiness through generosity, and he calls this being wise selfish. It is a much more effective way to gain happiness by giving than by hoarding. Be wise selfish and feel the effects for yourself.
Need a hug? Or even just a high five? Physical touch releases oxytocin in the body. This is the love hormone. Mothers are often familiar with this one because you experience a heaping dose of it during childbirth and then each time you breastfeed. It increases feelings of love and connection to others. So, greet your friends with a hug. Cuddle with the kids. Make time to get physical with your partner. The heightened state of connection can do a lot for an anxious state of mind. You can take comfort in knowing you are part of a whole, you are not alone.
Exercise is another easy way to decrease cortisol levels and increase endorphins, but it is also a wonderful form of meditation and mindfulness. Focusing the mind on a simple task like lifting weights or executing a new yoga pose can keep you present in the moment. If you are present in your body, your thoughts and worries have no room to weigh you down. It does not matter what form you choose, but next time you break a sweat try to stay focused on the sensations in your body and the quality of your breath. If your mind starts to wander, simply refocus on the task at hand.
We are often seeking comfort in food when feeling stressed, but are we eating the right things? The super sweet and super fatty foods are usually the go to when it comes to comfort food. These choices can leave us feeling tired and drained so we are not able to cope with taxing situations. High fiber, carbohydrate rich foods are a better choice when combating stress. Things like sweet potatoes, whole grains, and fresh fruits can make you feel satiated for longer and give you the energy you need to endure. Also, don’t skip meals! Babies cry when they get hungry, and adults feel the same. Our hunger can manifest itself through stress, anger, and irritability. There is nothing like an empty belly to send you into total meltdown mode.
Don’t be afraid to disconnect from the world a bit. Put down your phone, turn off the news, and do something calm and enjoyable. Read a novel instead of the newspaper. Stare out the window and instead of into a screen. Just be. The world will be fine without you for a short time, and you will be better able to deal with the world if your batteries are fully charged (theoretically speaking).