Stress is a constant for many of us. We have so many obligations in this life: family, friends, jobs, finances, it's hard to imagine taking any time for ourselves. Think about the last time you did something nice for yourself. Do you remember? No, I'm not just talking about that extra scoop of ice cream; I'm talking about that weekend away, the quiet walk you took to clear your head, the fitness class that forced you to dance away your worries. Taking care of YOU is important and can often make you more productive in those stressful moments of life.
The antidote to stress is one of my favorite of the seven moods, "Chill." Even the word sounds relaxing. Embracing your inner "chill" by doing something for yourself and taking time to relax can change the way you think about stress. Here are a few easy (and inexpensive) ways to bring "chill" to your day.
I'm sure your face is already cringing a little bit. For many, meditation seems like a pointless practice. There's a stigma surrounding meditation; it's too time consuming, too spiritual, even too silly. But the truth is meditation is an open concept. It isn't just one thing. It is simply about quieting the mind for as long as you need. It doesn't have to be lying on the floor or breathing heavily, you can meditate practically anywhere with no "OM's" involved. I suggest taking a few minutes to find a quiet room or outdoor space, sit in a chair or on the ground in a comfortable seat and close your eyes. Try to really focus on the way your body is feeling. It's hard for a lot of us to live in stillness, so embrace the challenge. Avoid putting pressure on yourself to do meditation "right". There's no need to add pressure and get mad at yourself for your mind wandering! Your goal is to sit still, observe and try (I emphasize try) focusing on the inhalation and exhalation of your breath. Practice slow and deep breathing that truly fills your body. Whenever your mind starts to chatter try to think about that breath.
Its scary to think about how little time we spend outside, especially if you work in an office setting. Rain or shine, it's important to take some time to walk or sit outside. Number 1 reason: Vitamin D. Vitamin D releases chemicals in your brain and body that make you feel at ease, reduce blood pressure and increase your fat metabolism. Beyond that, sunshine and fresh air can have a centering effect. Being outside, in nature or around other people reminds us that the world is so much bigger than any individual. Our stresses are important and valid but the world is so vast and life is so beautiful it's important to take time to notice.
Write It Out
Taking a few minutes to journal or write every day is an easy way to bring chill to your day anywhere at any time. I always carry around a small notebook and use subway rides to write down thoughts and ideas. Got out of work a few minutes early? Go to a new wine bar or coffee shop and spend 15 minutes free writing. Set a timer and don't stop writing until 15 minutes are up. You may end up writing about your inability to think of anything to write but more times than not you'll discover something new. It's also an incredible experience to re-read things you've written in the past. Looking back at writing from weeks or months ago allows me to reflect on my growth.
We all experience stress and taking time to chill is an important practice to start in order to combat it. Be patient with yourself and always remember to set time for YOU.