Try these practical ideas to calm yourself — mind, body and soul.
Keep a journal
Hear me out. I’m serious. Let’s say you had a truly epic day at work, but not the good kind of epic. Several new gray hairs sprang into being on your scalp by lunch time; you could feel it happening and it only stressed you out even more. Now you’re bursting with Stuff That Needs To Be Said, but guess what? The husband isn’t all that interested. Or he’s missing. Who you gonna call?
Why, your journal, of course!
Numerous studies have shown that journaling can increase your well-being and decrease depression and anxiety, which can only be good.
When you write, express yourself but also reflect. The goal isn’t just to vomit all of your angry or fearful thoughts onto paper, but to become more aware of your own thought processes through the act of writing, which can also be an excellent aid for therapy. Sometimes, writing out the things that are making you so stressed, and delving into the reasons why they get to you so much, is half the battle. Many times, we are stressed not just by the surface issues, but by underlying problems that are stirred or awakened by those issues. Journaling can help us get to the root of our unease.
But don’t just journal to express all the bad stuff you carry inside. Also use it to catch and identify the beautiful things to be grateful for in each day. Somehow, God blesses us in every day … and if we have the eyes of faith, we can catch those blessings as they fly. Recording them on paper can help you be more aware that you are loved, and that Someone is caring for you and helping you in your daily walk. And just that realization in itself can be one of the biggest stress reducers there is.
Oprah Winfrey once said, “For years I’ve been advocating the power and pleasure of being grateful. I kept a gratitude journal for a full decade without fail — and urged you all to do the same.”
Getting stressed is often connected to being caught up inside our own head and our own problems. They might be significant, so we can lose sense of the wider world outside. There’s nothing like nature to bring you back to a more balanced perspective.
You don’t have to be a hardcore hiker to get benefits from spending some time outside. Even a few minutes out on a balcony, or a short walk, can bring benefits. One study found that “forest bathing,” or a short, leisurely walk through the woods, decreased stress levels and had a positive health benefit on those who did it. Another study found that time in nature can help restore our ability to focus and pay attention and recover our mental energy and creativity, not to mention lower our blood pressure.
When you spend too much time under fluorescent lights – and worse, inside your own head – a bit of time outside can be a helpful reset. And doesn’t your dog need a walk? If you won’t do it for yourself, then do it for the dog, at least.
While you’re at it, listen to this song and absorb the message: We live in our mind, and it makes us all forget sometimes. So just take a breath. For the messages and calls that you had to make … can make life hard to take. Cause I can see it on your face, cause you need to take a moment and just listen to your heart. You will find there something to relive the pressure from the start. If you look outside and take a breath, you’re really not too far from sunnier days.”
God created nature for us … why not go out and enjoy it? Let it lift your heart above the daily fray.
Give yourself something to look forward to
If you’re struggling through The Day That Never Ends (and this can be a permanent reality for working moms!), you need to have a light at the end of the tunnel. You need something good to look forward to, and hopefully it won’t be Netflix-n-chill with a bag of potato chips because … that habit leads to other outcomes that are stressful in a different way, like jeans that don’t fit anymore. What about something new?
If you’re in dire need of relaxation, what about a nice hot bath with candles, relaxing music, and some scented bath beads for the water? It could just be half an hour, but it might put you into a completely different mindset.
Everyone has their own favorite thing – the point is to promise yourself that you’ll set aside time in the evening just for that. And sometimes, that’s all you need to get through the day, knowing that you’re your own ally, and that the day will end on a high note, even if it’s a struggle to get there.
A touch of friendship
I can’t tell you the amount of times when I’ve been stressed out or upset about something, and someone has completely changed my mood. Sometimes you can’t make it to happy hour, but you can call a friend or connect with people in some way – and that can turn things around.
Other people are gifts to us, and sometimes the things they say to us in a dark or difficult time can be like balm for the soul. When I was down recently, a coworker told me, “You are a good person! And I’m a good judge of character.” And on the same day, another coworker told me that she was drawn to me immediately because of x, y, and z qualities, and wanted to be my friend. It was completely out of the blue, and it pulled me out of my funk.
Other people – and their sense of humor and good will – can be just what we need to get over the hump of a bad day or a bad week.
What? Stressed-out women and wine? I’m preaching to the choir, I know, but hear me out.
Unless you can’t tolerate alcohol, a glass of wine can be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to stress. Wine’s relaxation effect “has been documented for over 5,000 years,” according to Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D.
Even the Bible is on our side, ladies: Psalm 104:14-15 speaks of God “bringing forth food from the earth,” including “wine that gladdens human hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts.” Obviously, he created wine as a gift to make us happy.
And let’s not forget that Jesus’ first public miracle was turning water into wine. Surely, he was telling us that he understands how much wine belongs in our celebrations, and how much it lifts our hearts.
Wine in moderation, of course, not the point of drunkenness and stupidity.
So if your day has been incredibly stressful and you just need to relax, why not go ahead and take a walk outside, then come in to a nice glass of wine and a hot bubble bath, followed by a chat with a good friend and 20 minutes of writing in your super-secret journal? You’ll be feeling pretty good by the end, I promise you!
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