As some of you already know, my first job out of college was not kind to me. For starters, my work life balance was completely out of whack. I was so stressed out that I would wake up in the middle of the night with panic attacks. Chest pain and eye twitching became a new norm. And among many other grievances I had during my time with that particular company, I found that it was a rarity for people to treat others with the kindness and respect they deserved.
Obviously this experience was not a fun one to live through, nor was it healthy. But I did learn a lot about stress management techniques and I found ways to take better care of myself when I could have thrown in the towel. These practices are still a part of my daily life, and I find they not only keep me calm in hectic times, but they also keep me balanced and focused during the calmer stages of my life, as well.
So here they are, my top 10 S.O.S. stress management techniques.
I hope you find, as I do, that these practices help you relax and give you the mental balance you need to tackle your day with a renewed sense of energy.
- Take a walk. Quick walks kept me sane during that first job from hell. I would sneak out of my cube at least once a day to do a quick 10 minute loop in or around the building. These walks gave me time to momentarily escape the pressure I was under, and I was able to come back to my desk refreshed and ready to tackle the next task. I still try to get at least one 10 minute walk in during my work day whenever possible. The change of scenery and physical activity really does wonders. I highly recommend it!
- Meditate. It took a couple of months (maybe even a couple of years) for me to finally try meditating. Jared would often throw the idea my way, but I blew it off many, many times. Luckily for me, he is persistent and eventually I gave in. And, of course, it has truly been a game changer. I prefer guided meditations through apps like Headspace and Simply Being, but Jared learned his meditation techniques by reading books on the subject. Whatever works for you! And if those options sound like way too much work, simply focusing on the rhythm of your breath for a few minutes can help you check in with your body and mind, and will take your stress levels down a notch or two.
- Take a shower and brush your teeth. This is also my mom’s ultimate “feel better” cure when you are down and out with the cold or flu. She swears that it will make you feel better even on the days you can barely get out of bed, and I completely agree.
- Get some sleep. Honestly, sometimes all you can work up the energy to do is catch some z’s. And that is completely okay. Know when you have hit a wall and need some rest. It is never good to push yourself past your breaking point – it will only hurt you in the long run. It is important to take good care of yourself first and foremost.
- Write in your journal. I have found that processing my thoughts through writing can be extremely healing. I do this to not only overcome stress, but to also work through tough emotions. I also find that simply writing down whatever occurs to me first can really shed light on my true emotions and motivations, some of which I did not realize I had. This can be a fun (and difficult) practice, but it is totally worth it.
- Escape reality with a good book. This is by far one of my favorites. I have always loved reading, and snuggling up with a specialty tea, a blanket and a good book never fails to make me feel 100 times better. I have always favored fiction, and I especially find myself gravitating towards it when I need a quick escape.
- Break a sweat. I don’t know about you, but if I go more than a week without working out, I start getting extremely lethargic and cranky. I start to feel “off” and it is no fun for anyone. When you are stressed, it is so important that you do not neglect your health. Make sure to get a quick pump sesh or a few sprints in. It will do wonders for your mood and energy levels.
- Reach out to a friend. When I first moved to Milwaukee, a friend and I would take a long walk by the lake every Wednesday. We would chat about anything and everything, and it was often the highlight of my entire week. She was my sounding board for so many different ideas and problems. I never felt alone in my struggles, and I know she was always right there to support me.
- Take a bath and light a few candles. Every room in my house has about 20 candles (yes, this may be an exaggeration, but only slightly…). Not much can beat a really hot bath and some candle light. Talk about the ultimate relaxation technique. This is a classic, and for good reason.
- Throw on some music and whip up a healthy meal. See #7. It is so important to take care of yourself first. Making yourself a nourishing meal will benefit you in many ways. And it only gets better when you put on your playlist of choice!
The key here is to ultimately prioritize your health and well being first. Only you can choose to make yourself priority numero uno. There is no doubt that this can be hard to do when you are stressed to the max. But by treating ourselves kindly and putting ourselves first, we are able to show up every day with our best foot forward, and make the biggest and best impact we can make. So let’s hear it – do you have any stress management techniques that you swear by? What keeps you going? I am always open to adding something new to my repertoire! 🙂