Everyone experiences stress.
With less than 30 days left in the school year (but who’s counting?), everyone is scrambling to all the events and completing those projects before the long awaited summer vacation. This can lead to feeling burnt out.
Yesterday was one of those days where I just could not turn my terrible mood into a more positive mindset. I pulled into the driveway gritting my teeth and very tense. That’s the signal–it’s time to take a break.
Although I had a presentation and a portfolio to complete yesterday, I hit the pause button and took the time to give myself some self care and stress relief. Inspired by my mental break yesterday, I am sharing 10 ways for stress relief.
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1.) Podcast or Audiobook
Right when I came home I popped in my earbuds and did yard work until the sun went down. I felt a million times better afterwards. Instead of allowing those stressors to take over my brain, I tuned into the podcast and my tension melted away. If it’s not a podcast, I’m usually on my Audible app.
I need to point out that the podcast or audiobook SHOULD NOT be work related. No, no. This is YOU time.
From that same thread, the yard work was the beginning of our spring clean up. It made the yard look great but also gave me the satisfaction of a check off the to-do list. The leaves and weeds were gone and my mind felt so much clearer. It was much more pleasant to look at.
It doesn’t have to be a huge project, but even just tidying up the kitchen gives me a sense of clarity. I’m a firm believer in a cluttered space leads to a cluttered mind. How can you prioritize if you can’t even think straight? Clear out the space and you’ll feel much better.
3.) Get Outside
My yard work yesterday checked off the first three already! It was beautiful outside yesterday evening. We’re coming into the months where it’s hard to keep me inside! Even when the weather isn’t ideal, I try to force myself to get outside. I noticed a difference in my well being when I picked up snowboarding. I was so used to being stuck inside during the winter. Sometimes it’s tough to bring yourself outside, but I’m always glad I did it after.
I’m training to run my third half marathon this summer. Even after years and years of being a student athlete in high school and college, I’m still very reluctant to get exercise in when it’s the end of the day. Sometimes I’m just too darn tired! I’ll be honest–I’m not the best at following a training program. But this is a HUGE part of my well being. I’m an active person–even if I don’t always want to be.
It doesn’t have to be running, even just a nice walk with a friend or the dog will shift your mindset. Taking a fun exercise class does the job too.
If I am so tense and ready to scream–I write it instead. My favorite prompt to get those thoughts out and vent is from Brene Brown.
She says starting a journal entry “The story I am telling myself is…”
The reason I like this prompt is because sometimes that’s all it really is…a story we’re telling ourselves. It’s our perspective. You are allowed to have a negative perspective, don’t get me wrong! But sometimes it can be blown out of proportion due to other factors. Sometimes I like to read them back and laugh at how outrageous they sound. It also allows you to go back and pinpoint what stands out and what needs to be addressed.
6.) Devote Time to Your Hobby
I always ask myself in times of stress, “What would I rather be doing?” Most of the time it is my knitting or crochet project in progress or trying a new recipe–but that’s me. Those are my hobbies. If you know what yours are, set some time to do it! And stick to it! Even if it is just a half hour.
I can always tell when it’s been too long without knitting or crocheting, which is why I try to dedicate some time every evening.
And if you don’t have a hobby, this would be the perfect time to try a new one.
7.) Take a Personal or Mental Health Day
This is a tough one because many of us feel guilty when taking time for ourselves away from some of our responsibilities–but you need to! You can’t fill other people’s cups if the kettle is empty which is why it is so important to take time for you. If that means calling out from work for the day, then do it. If that means cancelling plans, then do it. And don’t beat yourself up about it—because life moves on. You’ll come back recharged and ready to kick some ass.
8.) Watch that Movie You Have Been Dying to See
Mr. Geek is going out of town for a party and I’m already thinking of which chick-flicks or guilty pleasure movies I am going to snuggle up with the dog and watch!
9.) Read a Book
Sure, I love listening to Audible while I clean, do yard work, or drive–but sometimes you need to just sit down and hold that book in your hand!
10.) Take a Bath
I’m a bath person. Sometimes I just need to relax with some lavender salts and take a moment. Sometimes I have my iPad and have Netflix. Sometimes I have Audible playing. There have even been times where Mr. Geek has been especially attentive and brings me a glass of wine.
Visualization helps with this as well. Imagine you are literally washing away your worries!
It allows me to hit the reset button.
11.) Listen to a Guided Meditation
I started experimenting with meditation when I was in graduate school. I wasn’t sleeping, I was constantly overwhelmed and irritable. When a classmate asked me about meditation, I tried the Breathe app. My favorite part of the app is that it asks you to “check in” and then recommends guided meditations for you to try.
I have a lot of progress to make in my practice, but it keeps me grounded and mindful of myself and my surroundings.
I know it’s difficult to take a step back sometimes. Maybe you feel guilty. Maybe you don’t even recognize that you need time. Maybe you feel like you don’t have time–but it is SO IMPORTANT that we take care of ourselves. It needs to become a priority. If we don’t take care of ourselves, then we can’t take care of others. I want to be the best version of myself for my family, my friends, and my students.
What helps you de-stress and wind down? Put your recommendations in the comments below!