Stress might seem like a friend you know all too well, a feeling that just never seems to fade away – we know how it goes, when new worries only seem to manifest in place of retired troubles. Do you think ditching your stress is impossible without first getting rid of all the bills, quitting your job, or hiring a full time maid? If so, you’re in for a surprise: you don’t need any major upgrades or lottery winnings to reduce stress in your everyday life; instead, try these fun ways to reduce stress and you are sure to feel better as well as see an improvement in your performance and overall health.
1. Nightly Gratitude Journal
Focusing on the positive side of life is a quick way to reduce stress; the only problem is learning how to focus on the positive when the list of worries goes on and on. That’s where a gratitude journal will be very handy, providing you with a nighttime tradition you’ll be happy to have taken up!
So what is a gratitude journal anyways? Somewhat self-explanatory, this journal will provide you with a place to jot down at least 3 unique moments you are thankful for at the end of every day. By coming up with reasons to give thanks, you are literally forcing yourself to focus on the positive, letting yourself relive the most joyous parts of life. This will impact what you dream about, how deep of a sleep you go into and how quickly you find it, along with how you feel when you awake to a new day tomorrow.
For those that regularly keep a diary or journal, it’s not suggested to combine the two, simply because a gratitude journal should not include any worries or fears, upcoming deadlines, or past-due projects, all of which are typically lamented in a journal or diary.
2. Yoga on the Go
While yoga itself is known to dramatically decrease stress, it’s not everyday that we have 45 minutes for downward dog and chaturanga. But there are some elements of yoga that can be applied to everyday life, such as breathing – a very important aspect of any yoga practice, and a huge aid to reducing your stress! Stress tends to make us hold our breath, but as soon as we forget to breathe our muscles tense up and we become out of balance, a feeling that might be subconscious but will still increase our stress.
Yogians are taught to take air in through the nose before then letting it out through the back of the throat – if you sound reminiscent of Darth Vader, you’re doing it just right – and as a result you will begin to feel calmer. With each breath you will feel your shoulders starting to sink and relax, releasing tension in your muscles as well as in your mind.
If stress is keeping you up at night, skip counting sheep and try this breathing exercise as you lie in bed; imagine that with every breath your body is filling up with joy and positivity, while on the exhale you sink closer into the mattress, allowing yourself to be calm knowing that in this moment you are safe and supported by the forces beneath you.
3. Light Your Stress on Fire… Literally
For those stressors that seem unchangeable – a grudge held against a friend you thought was true, an ex bringing about drama with his latest fling, or trouble forgiving something your child did – remember this: any anger allowed to live and brew within will only lead to ill feelings and more stress, which is why forgiving, forgetting, and moving on is the best thing for you most of the time.
Even with this knowledge, learning to let things go is the tricky part. Try this: simply write down whatever it is that you are dwelling on. Write as much or as little as you feel is necessary and then take this piece of paper and a lighter to the sink and light the corner of the paper on fire (taking the proper precautions, of course). Watch your written worries burn up in smoke, as the letters scrawled across the paper crinkle and fold, falling into burnt flakes, you will instantly feel a weight being lifted from your chest. Symbolism is huge, bigger than it is often given credit for, and seeing your fears burned to nothing can be very powerful, often in ways never imagined.