Simple Steps To Help You Keep Calm & Control Stress

If you want to know more about encouraging a happier outlook, you're in the right place. Read on for some tips to keep calm and control stress.

There are so many aspects of life in the modern world that can increase stress and anxiety. Unfortunately, this makes it very easy to get trapped in a cycle of poor mental health. Opting a positive mindset can be tricky. It would seem impossible to gain a handle on every different issue you face on a day to day basis. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. There are several simple steps that you can follow, which should help you in gaining control and reaching a much more beneficial state of calm. You might even see changes in your mood in just a few days. So, if you want to know more about what you can do to keep calm and control stress, you’re in the right place. Read on to uncover some of the best self-care top tips that you can begin implementing today.

Don’t Keep It To Yourself 

One of the worst things that you can do, which can have a really negative effect on your mental health is to bottle up all of your worries and keep your problems to yourself. Trying to deal with everything that life throws on you all alone isn’t possible for even the strongest of people. Plus, there really are no reasons for you to feel as though you cannot open up to those around you. Staying in regular contact with friends and family can be a real help. Additionally, just allowing yourself to discuss any issues that may come up can be the first step in changing your ways. Sometimes those close to you are not quite qualified to aid you in resolving every issue. So, scheduling a session with a professional, such as therapy for panic attacks, may be more suitable. Do not allow yourself to feel any guilt if you decide to seek out counseling. There is nothing to be ashamed of; in fact, you should ultimately be very proud of yourself for taking significant steps towards getting better.

Engage In Beneficial Practices

There are so many practices that have been formulated to provide calm and help to balance the mind. Taking part in any of these can cause you to see some real changes. Possibly the best concept to try first is meditation. The benefits of meditation are widely recognized, and many people swear by the activity. They report being able to gain a more positive outlook and eventual ‘inner peace.’ It can be tricky to start off with, but even this is part of the process, as it teaches you how to become more patient and also increase your stamina.

Additionally, you may like to head to a local yoga group. Further, yoga is as good for your body as it is for your mind. Stretching and balancing exercises are paired with soft music and the wise words of your instructor to create the perfect environment for releasing tension and stress, and the rush of endorphins you will feel after a workout can improve your mood even more. 

There are countless ways to become stress-free and calm. These tips are just a small snippet into what you can do to control your stress! What are your favorite de-stress tips? Let us know if the comments!

This post was written as a contributed post. Contributed posts are written by another party who may wish to be anonymous. Further, all posts are edited and formatted by Elizabeth Ghekiere. Want to guest post for ElizabethJournals? Learn more here.

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How to Reduce Stress | 4 Natural Stress Relief Options

How to Reduce Stress: 4 Natural Stress Relief Options

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

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.

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

Bullet Journaling

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!

Exercising

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.

Exercise Considerations

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.

Photo by Volha Flaxeco on Unsplash

Cleaning

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.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

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.

6 Ways to Manage Your Stress Easily

We all get stressed, that is an inevitable part of life. However, many people let their stress go unchecked and take control of their lives. And this does not have to be the case. There are hundreds of ways to manage stress and self-care is a common way to handle all that life throws at you. You can check out 101 ways to practice self-care, in this article we will draw from this list and tackle 6 ways to manage your stress easily.

What are the Symptoms of Stress?

There are a plethora of symptoms of stress, some of which you may not be familiar with. Here is a list of some of the symptoms of stress which you might be experiencing.

  • Headaches
  • Grinding teeth
  • Stuttering / stammering
  • Neck ache or back pain
  • Lightheadedness / faintness / dizziness
  • Frequent blushing
  • Frequent sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Frequent colds
  • Rashes, itching, or hives
  • Excess belching or flatulence
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Excess anxiety
  • Increased anger or frustration
  • frequent or wild mood swings
  • Increased or decreased appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Trouble learning new information
  • Forgetfulness
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Nervous habits such as fidgeting or feet tapping
  • Increased irritability
  • Overreaction to petty annoyances
  • Reduced work efficiency or productivity
  • Social withdrawal
  • Constant tiredness or fatigue
  • Weight gain or loss (without diet)

Keep in mind that this already lengthy and simplified list of symptoms are only a small portion of the possible symptoms of stress. If you are feeling stress or any of these symptoms, try some of these methods to manage your stress and possible reduce these symptoms.

Get Enough Sleep

One of the first and easiest ways to manage your stress is to get enough sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, teenagers need about  8-10 hours, younger adults and adults need 7-9 hours, and older adults require 7-8 hours. If you are not getting enough sleep, it is likely that the sleep deprivation is aggravating your stress, especially your symptoms. SO, get the amount of sleep your body requires to keep itself regulated!

Eat Right

You’ve heard it over and over again, eating right does wonders. Now, this one isn’t necessarily easy; however, there are easy ways to eat right. Try snacking on your favorite vegetables, or saying no to sugary treats. Drink carbonated water instead of soda or coffee instead of an energy drink. Doing one of these easy tasks each day is a simple start to eating healthy and managing your stress.

Go For A Walk or Run

It is well documented that exercise is great for mental and physical well-being, so it goes without saying that going for a quick 5 or 10 minute walk or run can help to relieve stress among other physical and mental ailments. If you live somewhere where the weather allows you to, I highly recommend walking or running outdoors! The fresh air and sunlight will do wonders for you mood! Just be sure to drink enough water!

Meditate

What is meditation? Meditation is a practice of mindfulness. What is great about meditation is that you can do it while doing other activities like cleaning or taking a walk. When you are driving you can turn off the radio and mindfully focus on your driving. While walking keep your headphones out and pay attention to the nature and noise around you, or focus on your breathing. Practicing mindful meditation allows you to get out of your head and therefore helps you to manage your stress. This one is an easy no-brainer.

Be Creative

Having some kind of creative outlet can do wonders to your stress. I know that when I get super stressed, stopping for a moment and doing some painting or drawing can turn my mood around quickly. If you aren’t super creative or you are out of ideas try some of these fun art activities for stress

  • Finger paint
  • Doodle
  • Coloring book
  • Draw your mood
  • Playdough or clay
  • Image Collage

Clean Up Your Space

Chaos and mess can exacerbate stress. This often stems from a lack of control. Doing a simple clean up or declutter of your space can change your mood and help you to relieve your stress. It relieves you from clutter, can save you money, can be a form of exercise, and can be a form of meditation.

It’s obvious why cleaning up relieves you from stress. It can save you money in many ways. First, you can sell stuff you don’t use, but is still usable. Someone else may enjoy what you do not. Second, you save money from coming to terms with what you don’t need and you avoid buying it again. If you find that you’ve never used some of your kitchen appliances, sell them or gift them. Now you know you’ll never use something like that and you can avoid buying it in the future.

Cleaning is a form of exercise, of course this is once again, obvious. You are moving around lifting items, moving items, etc. You are getting a nice little workout in. Cleaning is also a form of meditation. Practicing mindfulness and meditating while you clean is one of the easiest ways to manage your stress. You are likely to get the cleaning done anyways, might as well enhance its positive effects!

Whenever you are feeling stressed, be sure to try some of these easy stress management techniques. Try to get enough sleep, eat right, go for a walk or run, meditate, be creative, or clean up your space.

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6 Ways to Manage Your Stress Easily

10 Simple Stress Management Tips to Help Reduce Anxiety

10 stress management tips to reduce anxiety featured image

Stress is everywhere, and everyone experiences it. Stress is so common it has become accepted and normal. However, stress in incredibly unhealthy and ought to be taken seriously. One of the most notable and interrelated side effects of stress is anxiety. This post will break down 10 simple ways to manage stress and reduce anxiety. This post may contain affiliate links

10 Stress Management Tips

1. Breathe

The first and easiest way to improve stress management is to breathe. When you are feeling anxious or stressed, it is super easy to take a moment to do some deep breathing. One of the most beneficial ways to breath when stress is called diaphragmatic (or deep) breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing refers to a type of breathing where the stomach (not the chest) rises when breathing in, and settles when breathing out. Breathing this way stimulates a nerve that, in turn, stimulated the system in your body which relaxes you. Next time you are feeling anxious, take a few moments and take 10 deep breaths.

2. Get Enough Sleep

Believe it or not, all-nighters aren’t all that helpful. When you’re sleep deprived your brain functioning decreases significantly, and your metabolism slows! This is especially important for busy people who feel the need to stay up all night working. Instead of staying up all night working, practice proper time management allowing you to get plenty of sleep at night.

3. Relaxation Techniques

There are dozens of relaxation techniques. One is the diaphragmatic breathing mentioned previously. Another is progressive muscle relaxation or PMR. PMR involves becoming comfortable and slowly relaxing your body one part at a time. This method involves mindfulness, read more here. There are plenty more techniques, but I will only detail one more: meditation. Meditation is not easy at first and requires patience and commitment. It involves being in silence, emptying the mind, and focusing on breathing. If you would like to read more about relaxation techniques check out Help Guide.

4. Identify Triggers

What triggers your stress and anxiety? For me, I become incredibly stressed from parking in unknown, new, or busy places. Since I understand this as a trigger for me, I leave extra early so that I do not feel rushed to park, or I might carpool or walk from further away simply to reduce my anxiety. Knowing what triggers your anxiety can help you to build a plan so that you can better handle similar or repeated situations with less stress.

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5. Know Yourself

One of the most important tips is to know yourself. Understand your anxiety and stress and learn how to cope and manage. If you aren’t aware of what works, anxiety and stress can seem even more overwhelming than it naturally is. Spending time to learn about yourself can make that much of a difference.

10 Simple Stress Management Tips to Help Reduce Anxiety

6. Practice Self-Care

I know, I know, you are tired of hearing about self-care and all of the ways you can practice it. Instead of going on and on about how to practice self-care or the tools you need to do so, I will simply remind you that self-care is essential for stress management. If you are stressed, simply taking time to take care of yourself can make a significant difference and help you to relax.

7. Manage Your Time

I touched on it earlier, but managing your time properly can also help you to manage your stress and reduce anxiety a ton! A large portion of a persons anxiety and stress comes from deadlines and to-dos. If you manage your time and plan out your to-do lists promptly, you are likely to be ahead of the game and, in turn, less stress out!


8. Learn to Say No

Sometimes, stress stems from not being able to say no. We become overwhelmingly busy because people ask us to do more than we are capable of and we feel obligated to say yes, or feel rude if we say no. That needs to stop. If you are too busy, you NEED to say no. Saying no when you need to take a moment or focus your attention on a project you have already said yes to, is essential to improving your stress management.

10 Simple Stress Management Tips to Help Reduce Anxiety

9. Be Active

Being active is a great way to get out of your head and focus on something that is not stressful. Being active does not have to mean a vigorous workout at the gym. It can simply be taking a walk around the block, walking your dog, some backyard yoga, or it can be a vigorous workout. Create activity that works for you and helps you to empty your mind of all of your stressors.



10. Create Social Support

Lastly, it is essential to have social support. Social support is not only helpful in reducing stress and anxiety, but it is also essential for daily living. Having a positive social support system is one of the most effective ways of reducing depression and anxiety. A social support system does not have to be massive. Having a few people who truly care about you and support you in your corner is plenty enough!

Now that you have a better idea of how you can reduce your stress and anxiety, pick one of the 10 tips and implement it into your life!

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3 Tips for Managing Stress for a Better Night’s Sleep

We all know how wonderful it feels when we get a great night’s sleep, we wake full of energy and ready to take on the world! Despite all of us knowing how good sleep is for us, it seems less of us are getting enough of the good stuff, and our health is suffering as a result. One of the biggest causes of missed sleep is stress. We flick off the lights and lay our head on our nice soft pillow, but instead of drifting off to the land of nod the little voice in our head begins to list all the worries we have for the following day.

Stress and sleep are strange bedfellows. The more stressed we are, the less likely we are to sleep well. But then the worst we sleep the more likely we are to develop anxiety, stress and even depression. A cruel cycle indeed; it’s all quite unfair! What can be done to break this cycle? Well, below I’m going to let you in my top tips on how to get more sleep and reduce your stress levels.

4 Ways to Improve Your Self-Esteem

Get into A Routine

Regularity is probably the most important thing anyone can do to help improve their sleep. The human mind craves routine. Doing the same thing at the same time helps the brain build associations and with its shortcuts.

Go to bed at the same time every day, get up at the same time. Whether it is the weekday or the weekend, try and keep to the same time. Note, your body doesn’t care about weekends, Saturday is nothing more than a social construct. You will soon find your brain knows what time sleep should be and will start to prepare for it.

The same principle lays behind a having a good pre-bed wind-down routine. Avoiding screens in the hour before bed will help your overstimulated brain slow down. Replacing any activity that involves even the remotest possibility of stress with low key, relaxing things instead will do wonders.

So, that means no more tax returns, flight booking or attempting to help your son with their math homework before bed. Instead, why not slow down, read a book, listen to some music, or even take a nice hot bath.

For other ideas on what makes a great pre-bed routine, plus a host of other tips on how to improve your odds of a good night’s kip, check out the Sleep Advisor blogroll.

bathroom sink faucet

Take A Nice Hot Bath

Speaking of baths, AH! What is more relaxing than soaking into the bubbles and having a nice long bath before bed? A lot of people swear by it, Oprah Winfrey for one. If it is good enough for the queen of daytime, it’s good enough for us!

Pre-bed bath enthusiasts often claim it’s the toasty warmth of a good soak that lulls them to sleep. Well, they are partially right. Having a hot bath before bed is great for inducing sleepy times but not for the reason they think.

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When you have a hot bath, a process known as vasodilation takes place, this is where the blood rushes to the skin. Hence why you get rosy cheeks. When you then step out of your nice warm bath all this heat at the surface of your body is transferred to the cold air around, and you experience a massive thermal dump, and your core temperature plummets. It’s this cooling effect that is incredibly soporific.

Having a hot bath, or an ice-cold shower will have a similar impact. It’s just a hot bath is a far more pleasurable experience. Both are ways to help you de-stress at the end of a long day and get your body and mind in a good place for sleep time.

Take Back Control of Your Life

Calm That Monkey Mind

One method to calm that chattering voice in your head at night is to take up a little meditation. And no, before you ask, meditation is not just for monks and hippies. Though, these two groups do seem pretty relaxed!

Everyone can benefit from the effects of a little meditation. It’s free and requires nothing but a place to sit. To genuinely feel the benefit it does, however, require the commitment of at least 15 minutes each day.

It might sound dramatic but meditation over time essentially works by reprogramming our brain.

I know that sounds outlandish, the brain scans substantiate such claims.



Daily sessions of simply sitting and observing whatever images and ideas that float through our mind’s eye, help us realize how futile it is to worry about every little thought. This helps to free us from negative patterns of thoughts, reduce anxieties and de-stress. Find a quiet corner and give it a go.

Well there you go – three simple and completely free (if you don’t count bath salts) ways reduce your stress levels and help improve your odds of a great night’s rest. A little unsure, well, why not give them a whirl. What’s the worst thing that can happen? You miss a bit of sleep!

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Meet the Author

Hi there, my name’s Sarah, and I’m a sleep addict. I simply can’t get enough of the good stuff. When I’m not lying in bed dreaming (mainly of Chris Hemsworth) I spend the better part of every day researching and writing about sleep. I genuinely believe the world would be a happy, healthier, and even safer place to live if we all took sleep a little bit more seriously. Sweet dreams!

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5 Easy Holiday Self-Care Practices

With the hustle and bustle of the Holiday season, it’s easy to allow yourself to become overwhelmed with everything on your to-do list and everyone who wants to spend time with you. it’s during this time that we tend to neglect ourselves the most. For that reason, I have a collection of holiday self-care practices perfect for the occasion.

Holiday Baths

A bath is one of my favorite ways to decompress around the holidays. You just cannot go wrong by relaxing in a hot tub with some bubbles and a candle. To set up the perfect bath for relaxing, head over here! Perhaps for this season, mix it up with a holiday or Christmas bath bomb or candle scent!

Create A Relaxed, Cozy Environment

Another great way to practice holiday self-care is to make sure your environment instills calm, cozy, and relaxed vibes. There are a ton of ways to do this, but ultimately, it is whatever works best for you. You might turn up the heat, dim the lights, light a candle, curl up with a blanket, or make some hot cocoa. You can read more about getting that cozy Christmas feeling here.

5 Easy Holiday Self-Care Practices

Have Somewhere to Escape to

If you’re over-worked, stressed, or introverted, one of the best ways to practice holiday self-care is to ensure that you have somewhere you can escape from the hustle and bustle of people and the never-ending to-do list. Take some time each day or even week away from everything stressing you out and be by yourself. Your escape can be anywhere and you can do anything when you are there. For me, I escape to my bedroom each night where I curl up in my blankets and watch some of my favorite YouTube channels. This is my holiday self-care escape. Where do you like to escape to during stress?

Brief Yoga or Meditation

Perhaps yoga is not for you, but meditation and yoga are great ways to take your mind off holiday stress and decompress. When you find yourself feeling tense, stressed, or overwhelmed, take a minute to be in the present. Take a walk or do some yoga and just be. Head over here to read more about using meditation during the holidays.

5 Easy Holiday Self-Care Practices

Say No

One of the biggest and most important on this short list of holiday self-care practices is practicing saying no. During this time of year everyone is doing so many things and it can be so incredibly overwhelming. Being able to turn down requests is probably the most effective way to de-stress and take care of yourself this holiday season. If you take nothing else from this post, please practice saying no and be aware of your limits. If you have taken on too much, do not take on any more, and ask for help! There is no shame in turning your projects or tasks into group endeavors.

This is a very brief list of holiday self-care practices, I’d like to know how you manage your holiday stress and take care of yourself. Let me know if the comments below!

5 Easy Holiday Self-Care Practices



My 735 Mile Move: The Reality of Preparing For the Move

The first thing you need to know about my move to North Carolina is that it is at least an 11-hour road trip…not including making stops. Because of the distance, I had to make most of the arrangements beforehand over the phone or online. For a lot of things, this didn’t really matter much, but for others, it made things feel impossible.

My hope for writing this post is to better inform others of what to expect if they chose to make a long-distance move. I’m going to talk a lot about my struggles and the process. By no means am I discouraging anyone from doing what I’ve done, just know that it’s really hard, be informed.

Getting an Apartment

Getting an apartment was one of the most stressful aspects of the move. Without a place to live, I wouldn’t have gotten here in time for the semester to start, or I would have had to spend way too much money living in a hotel.

Step One: Research

The first thing I had to do was research apartments. This was difficult because I didn’t really know the area, and I wanted to live somewhere safe but also near school and work. Because of these unknowns, I created a list of about 6 apartments that seemed to have what I needed/wanted, had photos that made them seem like they were in a good area, and were within 15 minutes of my school.

Then I created a spreadsheet comparing each of them, and naturally, I had two favorites.

Step Two: Visit

Next, my grandma, aunt, and I took a weekend trip to North Carolina to visit each of these apartments. During this trip, I learned several things.

  • Nice pictures online, while helpful, can be wrong
  • Prices are generally higher than they say online
  • If I wanted to live in a nicer area, I had to be willing to pay at least $100 more each month
  • An upgraded apartment simply means a new paint job (probably not done wonderfully), new appliances (probably just black instead of white), and new fixtures (whoop-de-doo)
  • There are more costs than you think: application fee, the fee to hold the apartment, deposit, and additional couple month rent, etc.

I expected this trip to be fun and easy. I was wrong. It was incredibly stressful. My family was immensely concerned about my safety, which isn’t a bad thing. But, the safest places were WAY out of my price range. So, I had to choose from a step down in safety, not necessarily unsafe but probably no security cameras or security workers or gates. A large portion of the trip (and sometime after), my family members kept making comments about where they thought I should live despite knowing that I couldn’t afford it. This stressed me out, because I didn’t even want to look at places out of my price range, yet they wanted to look at all the really nice places. Money is tight, I couldn’t, my choices were limited and I had made up my mind.

Step Three: Getting An Apartment

Now that I’ve finished visiting and all my research, I have to apply. There are application fees, so I couldn’t go out and apply everywhere. I gambled—I applied to only one apartment complex (the only safe one in my price range). I crossed my finger and hoped that they let me in and THEN that they had an open apartment in time.

After the application went out, all I could do was wait. And, my luck, their phone calls were not going through, nor were their voicemails. It took me from the end of April to the middle of June to really get ahold of them outside of them telling me my application was accepted. Getting accepted wasn’t good enough though and I was calling almost daily to no avail. Thank goodness that I decided to shoot them an email.

They responded to my email very quickly and gave me an alternative number to call. They then called me every other day to update me on apartment openings and verify information. June 15th (only 2 months before classes start), they called me telling me that they had an opening. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but I was desperate.

I had a month to prepare for the move.

Preparing for the Move in One Month

Getting a Job

Getting a  job is really hard to do from such a huge distance. Especially because I was looking for part-time. I had applied to become a graduate assistant at my school and got accepted at the same time I got the apartment, but this wasn’t going to be enough. I needed another job. The pressure was on, but I also felt as if I couldn’t really do anything because of a lack of responses I was getting using online means. I needed to go into the offices and facilities, but I couldn’t. I put this aside until after the move, but I knew I was going to have to kick my butt into gear immediately to be able to pay the bills (Stay tuned for Part 2 of My 735 Mile Move where I talk about this).

Tight Budgeting

This was my first apartment, so I had nearly nothing that I needed. So I had a lot of very strategic spending to do. I did not have a lot of money to spend, but I had a lot of things to buy. I started with the apartment fixings and utilities.

Finances

Utilities

When you get an apartment, you have to take care of a lot of things: insurance, gas, electricity, water, rent, trash, etc., most of which you need to have before you even move in. This wasn’t particularly stressful, but it was expensive. I had to make A LOT of phone calls and spend hundreds up front just to be able to move in. Because of this, I had a lot less money put aside for emergencies, and to spend on the apartment.

Buying all Necessities

I started by making a list of necessities like furniture, toiletries, a bed, appliances. Then I got on VarageSale. VarageSale is an app that would be similar to going to garage sales online. I was able to get a few bits of furniture using garage sale at a pretty good price. Including this lamp!

I also got super lucky and one of my grandma’s friends gave me a large amount of free (yeah, free) furniture. This was so amazing because I was so stressed about money and still needed larger items like a couch or somewhere to sit. My grandpa also gave me his old tv, which was very nice.

Planning Ahead

Not only did I have to be careful about my spending before the move, but I had to be saving a lot of money for after the move. I saved up a couple thousand, but a lot of that was gone before I even got to North Carolina. Naturally, this made me even more stressed about getting another job. I needed a couple thousand just in case I couldn’t find a job or an emergency happened, and I barely had this. But I trucked along, spending wisely.

The point of this post was not to complain or to brag or show off or anything. I simply wanted to provide a reality for someone else who might be preparing for a long-distance move for the first time. There is so much to the process.

Want to know what happened after I move? Check out Part Two to my 735 Mile Move: The Reality of Moving Far From Home

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How to Set Up the Perfect Bath for Relaxation

You’ve come home from a stressful day at work or school. How do you de-stress? A Bath! Setting up a nice relaxing bath is a science. It requires not only a relaxing bath but a relaxing bath environment. I am here to tell you exactly how to set up the perfect relaxation bath. This article contains affiliate links

STEP 1: Clean the Bathroom

No one can relax in their bath if the bathroom hasn’t been cleaned in weeks. The key here is a quick clean.

First, rinse out the tub! If you do nothing else before a bath rinse down the tub. This is especially important if you don’t regularly clean your bathroom. I have a dog and I constantly find dog hair in my tub that I don’t want in my bath. A quick rinse will get rid of any stray hairs, dust, or whatever else.

You can stop there if you’d like, but I know I can’t relax in my bath without cleaning up just a little bit more. Before a bath, I pick up clutter off the floor.

Lastly, quickly wipe down the countertop. Put away any stray items and run a wet cloth over the countertop

Now you are ready to prepare the bath.

STEP 2: Set the Scene

Next, you want to get candles. Set them wherever you’d like. I put mine on the counter because of the size of my tub. But they are a nice addition to the tub’s edge!

Now, light the candles and dim the lights. However, you don’t want complete darkness for obvious safety reasons. I leave the light on in my bedroom and turn the bathroom lights off for the perfect dimmed effect.

STEP 3: The Bath

You have cleaned up, set the scene, and now it’s time to prepare the bath!

The Base of Relaxation

First, you fill the bath (duh). I like a really hot bath so I crank the heat up! But fill it with a temperature suitable for you. Next, add 1 to 2 cups of Epsom salt. This helps to relax your muscles, perfect!

ConvertKit

Scent

Add a scent next. Lavender is my favorite relaxation scent, but if you prefer something else, focus on that scent. I add a few drops of lavender essential oil to the water. This creates a light lavender aroma.

Add to this aroma with lavender candles.

Fun Additions

If you like a bubble bath, add some scentless or lavender-scented soap. I never have these products available to me. So instead, I add a lavender-scented bath bomb. Then again, sometimes I’ll add both.

If there are other products you’d like to add, now is the time to add them. Otherwise, your bath is all ready for you!

STEP 4: Get In!

This is everything you’ve been waiting for, so get in and ENJOY! The most effective relaxing bath lasts for at least 20 minutes, but don’t look at the clock. Have some quiet, electronic-free ME-time.

Bath Must-Haves:

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