Easier said than done, I know! But it’s not just a good idea to try to relax more and stress less, it’s imperative to your health.
…untreated chronic stress can result in serious health conditions including anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system.3 Research shows that stress can contribute to the development of major illnesses, such as heart disease, depression and obesity.
But how? How can we relax in a world full of deadlines, appointments, budgets, and activities? Here’s a few things I’ve learned through the years…
1. Slow down.
I know you feel like you’re always rushing around, trying to get everything done. Trying to squeeze as much productivity into your day as possible. I had to realize that productivity isn’t living. My life shouldn’t be measured in how many dishes I washed, how much laundry I folded, or how clean my windows are. Because tomorrow, there will be more dirty dishes to wash, more clean laundry to fold, and if you’re like me, more smudges from kids and pets on the windows. What matters is not how much I get done, but who I do it with and for. If you get a fraction of your to-do list done, but go to bed remembering the laughs shared, the smiles received, and the roses smelled, I think that’s a successful, fulfilling day! I know there are unavoidable times you have to rush, but try to avoid those with time management, and let all the self-imposed deadlines slide (or disappear). Here’s a great article on tips for slowing down:
Sounds silly, because we breathe all the time without thinking about it. But that’s just the problem, we need to think about it more often! Deep breathing brings your focus back to yourself, your current situation and surroundings. It gives your brain a boost of oxygen so that you can think more clearly. And it forces you to slow down. Read more about deep breathing, and find tips for practicing it here:
3. Connect with nature.
Take a walk. Smell flowers. Lay in the grass. Climb a tree. Stare out your window for a few minutes. If none of these options are available to you, even looking at pictures of nature is better than nothing. Nature reduces stress, it’s a fact! Be sure and use all your senses to experience it for the full relaxing effect. Read more about how nature is good for the brain and body here:
I don’t care what kind of dance it is, or how silly you think you look doing it, just dance! I promise, dancing to just one song will immediately boost your mood and put a smile on your face. It will reduce your stress and help your mind relax. I have a playlist on my phone called “happy tracks”, where I put music that always makes me smile and feel like moving to the beat. I put it on in the car, while doing housework, or when my kids seem to be extra cranky. Whether it’s 5 minutes or 50, I always feel so much better afterward! Here’s a great article all about relieving stress with music, including dancing:
5. Be silly!
One benefit of having toddlers is that they are constantly doing silly things that make you laugh. Putting things on their heads, making silly faces, wearing crazy outfits, tumbling in the grass. We need to take a cue from them and add more silliness to our days! Skip down the sidewalk instead of merely walking. Jump on the shopping cart and ride it like a scooter through the parking lot. Wear fun socks with your favorite cartoon character. Sing a silly childhood song. Stick out your tongue and cross your eyes. Stop being so serious all the time! Life is too short to be so serious. Here’s a great article with lots of fun, silly ideas: