6 Simple Ways to Minimize Stress and Balance Your Life
By: Melissa Howard
Stress can throw your body out of balance. The effects of stress range from sadness to fatigue. Implementing the following simple techniques or activities into your routine can help you overcome stress and breathe easy.
Try Something You’ve Always Wanted to Do
Routine and repetition have benefits, but every once in a while, step outside of your rut and do something that challenges or excites you. Trying something new keeps you motivated when times are difficult. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. Try knitting or watercolor painting while watching Netflix or Hulu. The chance to learn a new skill and invite a new source of joy into your life will help you manage stress and find a better life balance.
One problem many people run into is treating sleep like a quota that needs to be met, as part of an already long list of to-dos. Making preparations to get truly restful sleep is an important way to address problems with stress and have more energy. One thing you can do to get better sleep is to make sure that your light and dark schedule is normal and consistent.
A study published in Frontiers in Neurology showed that having a good light and dark schedule can improve sleep quality. Using dark curtains or rearranging the position of your bed in your room are both easy ways to affect your light-dark schedule and wake feeling more rested. Additionally, noise machines can help. A little trial and error go a long way.
Exercise at Your Own Pace
Establishing a fitness routine is often accompanied by pressure to run at a speedy pace or lift a high amount of weight. Be fair with yourself and start at a pace that’s comfortable for you. If your exercise routine stresses you out, you might be trying too hard. If traveling to the gym every day is causing you stress or taking too much time out of your day, you might benefit from having a home gym. Angie’s List suggests setting up a small one rather than clearing out a room and loading it up with expensive equipment. All you need is a well-lit room and a few basic pieces of equipment, and you’ll have a fitness space that doesn’t require travel time or an expensive membership fee.
Recent research published in Science Daily has shown that exercise, like running, can prevent some of the negative symptoms of stress and boost learning ability and memory. If running is a horrible experience, you’re probably running too fast. You’ll get stronger over time, so just worry about finding a pace that works for you, instead of trying to run at someone else’s speed.
Too many people miss out on the benefits of meditation by trying it in a hectic place. Set aside a specific time and place to meditate. Consider designating a specific place in your home where you can meditate. Make it somewhere that is free from distraction and offers solitude. Research has also shown that meditation can be used to improve sleep quality. Mindful meditation is useful for helping you become more mentally fit and resilient.
Learn to Plan
Another common source of stress is remembering important to-do items and arranging a schedule. According to the Huffington Post, a simple way to manage this is through using a planner. You’ll free up time, anticipate stress, and put first things first.
Start by setting aside quiet time once a week to make plans for the next week. Look at a planner as a gentle guide that offers reminders and keeps all parts of your life coordinated. The benefits of using a planner will be seen quickly, and once it’s a habit, you’ll find it helps you make time for the most important things in your life.
Spend a Little More Time Outdoors
Going outside when stress piques is a good way to get out of looped thinking. Going for a walk in nature has been shown to reduce the stress hormone cortisol and can improve symptoms of mental illness. Additionally, being outside for even a short period of time can increase vitamin D production, which is good for your heart.
Stress can spread into almost all parts of our lives, but implementing even just a few of these simple ways to minimize stress and balance your life and increase self-care activities can help. Start small. Try new techniques and advice. Learning to cope with stress is one of the most important things you can do to experience fitness effects that last a lifetime.