Have you heard?
April is National Stress Awareness Month. Rightfully so, I think, because it’s also the deadline for filing taxes. I’m guessing a lot of you are stressed out right now.
Have you ever felt that even just trying to relax is making you more stressed out?
You’re busy and unnecessarily stressing yourself, even while you’re relaxing.
You plan for a vacation but end up working because you just can’t stop checking email. When you have some down time, you’re trying to cram in ‘catch up’ time with your friends. Even if you’re not on the computer, you’re glued to the TV or your smart phone. Or running, running, running…
Relax. Chill. Do Nothing.
Dolce Far Niente
Sound familiar? It’s Italian for ‘the sweetness of doing nothing,’ a phrase that became popular after the hit movie Eat. Pray. Love.
Why is it so hard to slow down, to relax? You know, to spend 10 minutes—just 10 minutes—doing nothing. But do you know what? You need to try to relax. It can do wonders for your hectic life.
Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done.
Here are 4 easy strategies to celebrate National Stress Awareness Month even if you’re super busy at work and always pressed for time:
- Stop Comparing Yourself
You might not notice it, but that occasional five minutes here and there on Facebook is making you stressed.
It’s the online version of ‘Keeping up with the Joneses.’ It’s hard to feel relaxed when you’re scrolling on the newsfeed, looking at and envying pictures of your friends and their glamorous lives. Before you feel bad about your job, car, dinner, vacation, or whatever it is your friends posted online, remember that people post the best versions of their lives there. Rarely anyone sees what’s really going on.
Lots of people have low-self esteem right now, and that’s one side-effect of social media.
- Have a Good Laugh
Watch SNL, a comedy, or a funny YouTube video if you only have a few minutes to spare. Laughing is scientifically proven to lower blood pressure and minimize the stress inducing hormone, cortisol. It also releases happy, feel-good hormones called endorphins, which can help your mind and body relax.
- Walk Around
Walking is a great exercise and stress reliever. In fact, walking can put your brain in a meditative state, especially when you walk in parks with lush greenery.
Going out for a long walk gives you a chance to get out of your current surroundings, change your perspective, and rest your tired mind. Your active mind might be resting, but as your thoughts wander, your subconscious mind is working hard. That’s why lots of people experience an ‘aha’ moment after a long walk.
- Read a Book
Immerse yourself in a story. A previous study by Galaxy (chocolate brand) suggests as little as 6 minutes of reading can minimize your stress levels. It eases tensed muscles, and can lower stress levels by 68%. Best of all, a good story takes your mind off your current problems.
It’s OK to give yourself permission to take a break. You’ll be happier, healthier, and more stress free. What are you waiting for?