Last Updated: May 4, 2016
Everyone can relate to stress. Whether you’re trying to tackle college applications, cramming for the upcoming SAT, or just struggling to finish up an overdue research paper, you know the feeling of being completely and totally overworked. At times like these, it’s easy to let an array of commitments and deadlines pile up to insurmountable proportions, and the more you have on your plate, the less likely you are to actually do any of it—it’s probably more likely you’ll just curl up and watch Netflix for a few hours, ignoring your problems entirely.
When stress gets the best of us, it can put a dent in our work ethic all together, since the last thing you want to add to stress is, well, more stress! But by being proactive and taking time to manage your stress on a daily basis, you can help prevent further stress from building up and getting out of control.
Although stress is pretty inevitable, it doesn’t take a lot to just sit back, relax, and clear your mind for a few minutes every day. Even if some methods of stress relief may not wish all your problems away, they can definitely help you gain some perspective and realize that things likely aren’t as bad as they seem.
Regardless of what may be throwing you for a loop, here are some simple things you can do to unwind and de-stress after a rough day:
1. Take a deep breath
You’ve probably heard this about a million times: “You’ll be fine if you just take a deep breath and count to 10!” In my opinion, it always seems a whole lot easier said than done. But by stepping aside for a moment, clearing your mind, and breathing deeply in and out, you’d be surprised by how quickly it can ease your stress. (Taking a deep breath can also help with nerves or anxiety, since it lowers the heart rate and regulates breathing.)
Overall, exercising has so many benefits, both physically and mentally. At the end of a bad day, it feels so good to just plug in your headphones, tune out the world, and focus on finishing that mile rather than worrying about the essay that’s due by midnight (even if you only stop worrying for a bit). It’s scientifically proven that while you exercise, your brain releases endorphins that instantly lighten your mood (and your stress!). Also, if you can manage to go outside and exercise, just getting some fresh air is a perfect way to relax.
Yoga is incredibly relaxing and a great way to pack in some exercise in a much milder form. It’s the perfect way to start the day or even an ideal way to end one. Just taking the time to wind down and stretch out your muscles can give you a chance to clear your mind and sort things out. Plus, it doesn’t come with a huge time commitment; it’s likely just five minutes a day will be enough to have you feeling relaxed. And if you’re lacking prior experience, there are a ton of quick video tutorials online and even apps for your phone that can get you started.
Often times, meditation and yoga go hand and hand. But meditation takes a bit more focus and dedication than just doing a simple downward dog. If you are willing to devote time to meditating, it’s a fantastic way to just calm down and forget about your stress for a little while. Find a comfy spot, close your eyes, and steady your breathing. While meditating, it helps to fill your mind with positive and motivating phrases, while blocking out any negative ones. Follow up those thoughts with a few deep breaths and you’re good to go!
Naps are pretty much self-explanatory when it comes to de-stressing. I mean, who doesn’t love a nice midday nap? Even if you barely have 15 minutes to rest your eyes, giving yourself just a little bit of time to take a break and recharge will surely help you tackle whatever else the day has in store for you.
Netflix is an absolute no-brainer for stress relief. Whether it’s watching an episode of your favorite comedy or catching up on all the drama on Orange Is the New Black, it’s almost guaranteed to instantly make you feel better (and your problems not seem nearly as huge as you thought they were). Just make sure you don’t get sucked in if you have something else important to do!
Whether it’s picking up your old favorite book or glancing over an article in your favorite magazine, reading is a great way to relax and take your mind off things while still being semi-productive. Immersing yourself in a dramatic plot will definitely help you forget about your own problems, even if temporarily.
Journaling is a nice way to get all your thoughts out on paper and reflect on the previous day/week/month. Whether you decide to vent about your problems or make a list of all the positive things in your life, journaling is a surefire way to help you gain some clarity and give you time to prioritize. Also, a journal makes it easy to look back and read through all of those things that seemed like such a big deal at the time but ultimately worked out in the end.
Spending time with friends is one of the best ways to lessen your stress. Even if you’re not totally comfortable spilling all your problems to them, just hanging out with someone close can make you feel better, especially if you plan on doing something fun. (Although, if you still have a mile-long list of tasks to complete, inviting a friend over to help study or finish up some chores will definitely ease the burden a bit!)
10. Ice Cream
Okay, when doesn’t ice cream make you feel instantly better? It’s basically the cure for anything and everything. So, even if you end up overindulging yourself for a change, picking up a carton of your favorite flavor and snacking on it when things get rough is sure to lighten some stress.
Although having a laundry list of things to get done on any given day may seem daunting, you can always find a way to squeeze in at least five minutes of one of these stress relievers.
What are your favorite ways to de-stress? Let us know in the comments!