Everyone experiences stress. Taking steps to manage it is the key to a happier and healthier life. After all, research has shown that stress can manifest as physical and/or mental health conditions, as well as changes in your mood and behavioral patterns.
While it’s impossible to eliminate stressful feelings entirely, there are ways to keep them at bay so you don’t get too overwhelmed. Try these simple, natural techniques next time you’re going through mental battles. You may be surprised by how effective they can be!
Meditation is a wonderful short and long-term solution to stress. Sometimes, all it takes to calm down is a quick meditation session. You don’t need to do anything fancy. Simply find a quiet place, close your eyes, and try to free your mind of whatever intrusive thoughts are stressing you out. Even just a quick 5-minute break can work wonders in soothing the mind.
The beauty of meditation is that it becomes more and more powerful the more you do it. Over time, you’ll learn to recognize and observe your thought processes. You can focus on what’s causing stress and then stop those intrusive thoughts before they become too intense. Regular meditation helps you to understand yourself better, empowering you to change.
How to Meditate
While a quick meditation session on your lunch break can help to reduce stress, you’re going to experience more relief if you do it right on a consistent schedule. There are many ways to meditate as a beginner. Here’s the simplest method to get you started:
- First, find a comfortable position that allows you to relax without getting tired. Sitting cross-legged is the most common position, but some people prefer sitting upright in a comfortable chair. Either way, make sure you keep your posture upright. This helps to keep you feeling awake throughout the session while also preventing soreness during longer meditations.
- Next, you want to relax your body and facial muscles. Allow your eyelids and jaw to droop. Gently close your eyes, but don’t squeeze them shut. Breathe in and out slowly and deeply, allowing your entire body to relax.
- Now, your goal is to find inner silence. This is the part that takes some practice. When your inner monologue starts, gently shush it. Over time, you’ll be able to recognize an incoming thought and stop it intuitively. This can be quite difficult, so try not to get discouraged.
That’s it — you’re meditating! Start with a quick 5-10 minute session, and then try to go longer next time. You may want to set a timer to keep you on track. Eventually, you should start to notice that there’s more and more ‘silent’ space between thoughts. Eventually, you may want to look into other forms of meditation as you improve your technique.
Stress is often caused by too many thoughts that lead to overwhelming feelings. Your mind is rushing with thoughts about a work project you need to finish, what’s for dinner, house repairs you need to make, and everything else under the sun. Journaling helps you to make sense of that jumble of thoughts, bringing clarity and introspection to your life.
Simply writing a to-do list can be quite effective, but many people are falling in love with bullet journaling. The system was started by Ryder Carroll, a designer from New York. According to him, the goal of bullet journaling is “to help you track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future.” In other words, it’s kind of like a to-do list, a planner, and a diary all-in-one.
How to Bullet Journal
Bullet journaling isn’t just effective — it’s also a whole lot of fun! The basic idea is that you use specific symbols that keep you on track, rather than just traditional bullet points. Here they are:
· A dot represents a to-do task
x An x means the task has been completed
< A less than sign signifies a task that has been scheduled
> A greater sign means that the task has been rescheduled and migrated to a new list
– A dash is used for quick notes and minor tasks
O An open circle is for major events
The system may seem complicated on paper, but in practice, it’s quite easy. Once you get the right tools and learn how to bullet journal, it will become a fluid process that just makes sense. There are plenty of bullet journal themes that you can use to personalize your process, too.
For example, there are not-so-artsy layouts or minimal layouts for those who prefer simplicity. If your main goal is to reduce stress, you may find that using a layout to manage your mental health is the perfect solution. If you don’t have the time or resources to create your own bullet journal, you can always hire someone to make a bullet journal for you.
You can check out the listing below to view the various bullet journal options I offer!
Exercise stops stress. Even a quick jog around the block can work wonders for your mental health. Have you ever heard of a “runner’s high?” When you’re active, your body produces endorphins that naturally boost your mood and stop stress in its tracks. Exercising also takes your mind off your worries as you focus on the single activity at hand.
Exercise is, of course, great for your physical health, which naturally manifests as a positive mindset. Working out helps you to feel more confident in your skin, which boosts your overall mood and demeanor. While you can use exercise as a tool as needed when you’re feeling stressed out, a better approach is to develop a consistent exercise routine.
If it’s been a long time since you’ve been active, you may want to talk to your doctor before you dive in. In general, the best way to start is just to start. You don’t need to immediately start with an intense 10-mile run or anything crazy like that. Just getting your heart beating a little faster is the first step. Eventually, you can work your way into a more intense routine.
Exercise can be (and should be) fun. If you feel like you’re forcing yourself to be active, you’re just not doing the right exercises. Try to find a hobby that forces you to exercise. You could join a sports league, go to a rock climbing facility, or explore your local hiking paths.
Once you start incorporating exercise into your hobbies, it becomes part of your overall lifestyle, rather than a one-off activity you force yourself to do from time to time. If possible, ask a friend to become your workout buddy. You can hold each other accountable, motivate each other, and just have a blast with it.
It may sound counterintuitive but cleaning is good for you. Your surroundings often dictate your mood. If you’ve ever gone on a major cleaning spree, you know that feeling of bliss when you get to sit down and relax in your newly revitalized environment. Too much clutter around you can be a major cause of stress, especially if it’s a big mess that feels so daunting to tackle.
Just like exercise, the key to maintaining a tidy house is to start small and turn cleaning into a habit. You can use your bullet journal to set small, attainable goals. Once your surroundings are clean, maintaining them is a breeze. Eventually, you’ll wonder how you ever lived in a messy space! The trick is to take it bit-by-bit, rather than overwhelming yourself with a massive project.
If you’re struggling to get started, you may want to look into Marie Kondo’s approach. Her Netflix series does a great job explaining how to get rid of clutter that doesn’t inspire joy. Her approach is fun and inspirational, and it may help you to improve your environment in a way that doesn’t add more stress to your life.
Take Care of Yourself
Everyone is different. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to stress. These four natural methods will get you started, but it’s up to you to determine what works best. Sometimes all it takes is just taking a few moments out of your day to sip a cup of tea or read a chapter of a book.
If you’re suffering from stress, little changes can lead to big results. When you embrace new, stress-relieving habits, your life is naturally transformed for the better. The goal is to be kind to yourself. Recognize that you deserve to feel good.
Finally, try to understand that stress is going to happen. Stress is a necessity. It’s your mind telling you that there’s an issue that needs to be addressed. The trick is to acknowledge and accept that necessary stress without letting it take over. It’s not always easy, but facing your struggles head-on is the key to reducing their impact on your life.
Meet the Author
Tess DiNapoli is an artist, freelance writer, and content strategist. She has a passion for yoga and often writes about health and wellness, but also enjoys covering the fashion industry, collaborating with industry insiders and designers, getting insight on the latest trends.