For many of us, slowing down doesn’t seem to be a possibility. Between work obligations and family and managing a household, there’s rarely time for much else. However, constantly leading a fast paced life can leave you feeling burnt out and under a ton of stress.
I’ll give you a great example. Sometime last week, I was reviewing my work hours for the past month and I realized that I had not had a day “off” in over 42 days. 42 days!! Now, being a stay at home mom and business owner, I rarely get a day off but it dawned on me that I had not provided myself any downtime to recharge my batteries. And coincidentally, I was feeling more stressed and anxious than I had been in a very long time.
If you can relate to this story, just know that you are not alone. In fact, finding some downtime and taking care of ourselves is a challenge that many people face on a daily basis. And while it is necessary to meet our obligations, it is also necessary to take care of ourselves. When we aren’t stressed and overly tired, we are able to be more present in our own lives and fully enjoy the time that we spend with our families and on our work and our passions. But if you’re used to a constant fast paced environment, it can be hard to slow down. The trick is not to come to a halt, but instead to find small opportunities to recharge every day. Not sure where to start? Try a few of these suggestions to help you slow down.
Meditation and deep breathing techniques have been known for centuries to decrease stress and tension-related pain, such as, tension headaches, ulcers, muscle and joint problems. Ancient practitioners of meditation (and some current) believed that meditation was a sort of gateway to the gods. And while that may or may not be true, it certainly has a tremendous amount of proven benefits. Aside from stress relief, meditation also improves blood circulation, significantly increases serotonin production in the brain (serotonin is a chemical that is responsible for elevating mood and improving behavior), regulates heart rate, and boosts the immune system. The longer the better, but even short 5 to 10 minute sessions can make a big difference.
After a hard day, there’s nothing better than coming home to loving and supportive family and friends. If you are feeling overworked and overly tired, sometimes the very best medicine is quality time with those you love. In order for a relationship to thrive, it must be nurtured. So if you are feeling a little disconnected, make time to spend with those people. Take a friend to lunch or take the kids somewhere fun such as roller skating or to the movies. Spending time with good company is sure to help you relax and reconnect.
Listen to Music
Did you know that listening to music is the only activity that is known to stimulate both hemispheres of the brain? Listening to music is a great way encourage things like creativity, good judgement, effective decision making, and problem solving skills. Not to mention that listening to music is a great way to boost your mood and relieve stress.
Write it Down
Did you remember to drop off your daughter’s violin to school? Did you email the presentation to your boss? Pick up the dry cleaning? Believe it or not, the simple act of writing things down can make a huge difference in your level of stress and anxiety. Keep a small notebook handy or use an app like OneNote or Evernote to record important reminders, notes, to do’s, and anything else that might clutter up your mind. In fact, writing a list of priorities for the next day before you go to bed, is one of the best (and easiest) ways to fight mild insomnia. You might also find that your productivity increases as well.
For those of us people pleasers, this is a hard one. But understand that in order to slow down and reduce your stress, you may need to say “no” to certain requests that are made of you. Overextending your time is generally a one-way ticket to stress and anxiety. Cut back on your commitments whenever possible to allow yourself the time to regroup.
There is nothing more peaceful than a walk or hike in nature. This is when you literally can stop and smell the roses. Even a 10 minute walk outside in the sun can boost creativity and brighten your mood. Take advantage of opportunities to get outside throughout the day. Eat lunch or dinner outside or walk to the post office instead of drive.
Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your mind and body. There are many positive physical and mental effects associated with moving your body on a daily basis. As we age, it becomes more common to develop chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. However, many of these conditions can be alleviated or even prevented with regular exercise (and a proper diet). And just like meditation exercise boosts our serotonin levels which is why we often feel peaceful and happy after a workout. Take a hike at a nearby park such as Soldier’s Delight in Owings Mills or participate in a baseball or soccer game at a local rec center.
In the everyday hustle and bustle we often forget to enjoy all that life has to offer. Take care of yourself and everything else will fall in place.