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Our overall well-being is dependent on our ability to manage stress. As women, we often juggle many things at once and the stress can have ill effects on our health. It is important to remember that we cannot do any good for anyone if we are not taking care of ourselves first. It is easy to forget; we always run out of time; there is always something else more pressing to handle; we feel guilty for thinking of ourselves…STOP. Below are 5 guilt-free ways to help manage stress.
This area is so broad; it can be anything from a marathon run to a walk down the hall to the bathroom. Seriously, if it is a walk to the bathroom, take a minute, stop what you’re doing and while you walk, actually pay attention to the walk. Don’t rush down the hall, do your business, and rush right back into the next thing on your to do list. Preferably, you will have more time in your day than a walk to the bathroom. If so, try to find something you will enjoy. Something that makes you want to keep doing it. Yoga, swim, hike, bike, walk, run, ski, volleyball, anything as long as you find joy and it makes you smile. Be sure to pay attention while you’re in the moment and don’t get lost in the “what do I have to do as soon as this is over” thoughts. Using exercise to manage stress is about reducing your level of stress, not adding to it with another thing to do. Don’t get worked up about the activity, and do not feel guilty for spending time doing something that makes you feel good!
Meditation and Breathing
When it comes to using meditation to manage stress, I feel like people imagine this padded room, you sit in lotus position, quite, and eyes closed, and wait for a bell to ring to let you know you are done. It can be that….or you can simply sit at your work desk for 5 minutes and close your eyes and focus on your breathing (in…out…in…out…). Again, this is not an all or nothing activity. You don’t need special pillows, timers, music, and guides; you simply need to be still for a period of time and focus on your breathing. Another form of meditation is mindful meditation. You can do this while you’re doing the dishes, eating dinner, or taking a shower. Whatever your activity, focus on that activity. Be present and aware of your actions, motions, and breathing during the activity. Pay attention to your body relaxing during this activity.
Oh man, I am bad at this one. Every single day I swear I will get more sleep. As soon as I lay down, my brain turns on and everything starts to flow! I find myself checking the clock and getting more and more frustrated the later it gets and finally around midnight, I get to sleep. I know how important it is to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night, not only to manage stress, but also to allow your body to repair itself from the day; however, I struggle with getting 8 hours. Trust me when I tell you that sleep deprivation and stress are NOT a good combination. Some ideas to help fall asleep are: limit caffeine after noon, don’t nap in the afternoon (or if you do, not longer than 20 minutes), keep your bedroom temperature cool (60-67 degrees F), turn off electronics at least an hour before bedtime, and by all means, have sex! Sex actually reduces stress and increases oxytocin and dopamine which will make you feel sleepy. (Just don’t disrupt the sleep of your special someone, unless they don’t mind.) 🙂
Whether it is fact or fiction, pick a genre you enjoy and lose yourself in a good book. Similar to television, books allow us to escape and forget reality for a time period, hence helping to manage stress. You can join a book club for some group fun or simply read alone at home in a favorite comfy spot. You can get books for free at your local library, so this doesn’t even have to cost you any money. If you prefer to purchase your books, I suggest checking out Amazon! Check out one of the running books I’ve read here, or one of the first novels I ever read by Wally Lamb here. The novel “She’s Come Undone” taught me how disappearing in a good book can be one the best feelings EVER!
Soak in a Hot Bath with Epsom Salt
ALL TIME FAVORITE!!! Epsom salt is one of my best friends! My absolute favorite kind is Dr. Teal’s with essential oils already added. Check them out here. Not only will it help relax you, the Epsom salt is good for recovering after exercise. This one idea is a definite winner to help manage stress. I actually use it after # 1, I incorporate #2 and #4, and I get nice and sleepy to help with #3. YEAH! See why it’s my favorite? 🙂 I make sure everyone else is tucked away nice and sound in their beds before I decide to soak. I try to plan it when I know I will have at least 20 minutes of uninterrupted me time. Awe….feel it now.
What do you think? Have you tried any of these? Are there other ideas you practice? Please post your ideas in the comments below.