So...you're stressed? Join the club girlfriend! Stress gets a bad rep for being negative and anxiety-inducing, however, stress is a natural and normal part of everyday life, believe it or not. Regardless, stress puts immense amounts of strain on our mind and body and after prolonged periods of intense stress, you're bound to feel drained, exhausted, and just plain ol' done with the world! While positive and negative stress are natural correlates of life, there are a number of ways we can help ourselves deal with the effects by implementing self-care strategies into our daily, or weekly routines. So, if you're feeling drained, exhausted, and plain ol' done with the world, then grab a warm cup of tea and get reading!
Tip #1: Treat Yourself!
Most of us experience the effects of exhaustion simply because we're on a never-ending cycle in our every day lives. Since when was it a requirement to reach a point of exhaustion for us to feel accomplished? Who decided that it was normal to be dragging our heels through the mud just to get everthing done in a day? Well my dear friends, YOU decided that! (shocker, I know!!) In our fast-paced and stressful society, we feel forced to be perfection at all times when in fact, that is a predisposed ideal we place on ourselves. So, instead of staying that extra hour or two at work to get a few more things done, go home, grab your fav book or put on a TV show you enjoy, run yourself a bath, light some Bath & Body Works candles (the good stuff), and just...relax. Let me tell you, your headaches, sore muscles, or tension will slowly disappear and you'll feel 100% refreshed by the time you're done! We spend so much time focused on pleasing everyone else in our lives, and yet we forget about pampering ourselves!
Tip #2: Plan a Date
You've had a long week and you're exhausted. When you get home, the last thing you want to do is sit on the couch and think about all the work you still have to do when you get back to the office on Monday. Planning a date night, whether it be at home or out on the town, can help you distract your mind and de-stress for a couple of hours. Whether it's a candle-lit dinner with your significant other, a wine night with your friends, or just spending the night cozied up on the couch with your fav movie and treats, planning a night off is something to look forward to. Also, distracting your mind from things that once occupied all your waking thoughts has been proven to reduce feelings of stress. In my studies in therapy, using cognitive distraction helps the mind to prioritize and reorganize thoughts as to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety!
Tip #3: Exercise!
It doesn't mean you have to hit the gym every time you're feeling the effects of stress, but going for an outdoor walk, joining a yoga class, or meeting some friends for a pilates class can help the body feel rejuvinated and release the stress-reducing endorphines! Endorphines act as our bodies natural painkillers to help us improve our sleep, manage pain, and reduce stress! Try planning physical activities into your work week by making a schedule that fits with your lifestyle!
Read more about motivation: 5 Tips to Get Motivated and Stay Motivated!
Tip #4: Mindfulness Meditation
This may sound a little out of your relam but be open minded and be willing to try some new ideas, you're reading this for a reason right?! Mindfulness meditation is not some weird, yoga-type meditation you see in the movies. It is the act of learning the skills of becoming centered with yourself and the your surroundings. The purpose of being mindful is to become self-aware and self-reflective of whats going on around you. Often, our stress comes from outside factors that we cannot control. With mindfulness, you are able to calm your mind by controling your thoughts and analyzing your bodies feelings and actions. I have loved to use Smartphone apps such as Headspace and Calm to help learn mindfulness for myself. You can decide how long you'd like to try each session, and slowly learn the skills of mindfulness, which can be incorporated within your daily or nightly routines! I personally use headspace during stressful or anxiety struk days, while using Calm before bed!
Tip #5: Take a Break & Have Fun!
Multi-week, exotic getaways aren’t always an option with the many responsibilities that come with life. Whether you have the time and money to head out on a European tour, or can simply afford a long weekend that’s close to home, yet away from the grind, planning a break is a great tool for reducing stress. But it doesn't just mean you have to plan a getaway, but perhaps take a day off, change up your lunch hour and hang out with co-workers, or plan a day-trip out of town. It gives you something to look forward to and breaks up the normal everyday routines of life!
I hope these tips have given you some ideas on how you can work to de-stress particular aspects in your life. Although there are many ways to de-stress depending on your preferences, coming up with a de-stressing tool kit can prepare you for some rough weeks that may lie ahead. As a graduate student, I am constantly running on some level of stress to try and get endless papers done, securing a placement position, working as a tutor, and trying to please everyone in my life as well. But, it's important to also take time to please yourself and reward yourself for a job well done. Life is about celebrating the little accomplishments, so take pride in all your hard work and put yourself on top for once! You deserve it after all!