Stress is such an underrated issue in today’s society. It’s a normal feeling, but it’s important to not let it take over you. For someone like me, who deals with serious anxiety, I’m constantly looking for ways to de-stress myself when my anxiety is kicking into overdrive. Although it may seem insignificant, stress and anxiety can vigorously affect your mind and your health. I’ll never forget about the kid in elementary school who told me that his mom passed away due to stress. Can you imagine my face after hearing that statement at ten years old? My biggest obstacle in life was trying to get my mom to buy me the latest “whatever.” I didn’t know or understand stress at that age, but 17 years later, I definitely see how that’s possible. I’m always looking for ways to calm the storm in my mind, because let’s be honest, that’s mostly where stress lives and often takes over. Here’s a list of my favorite ways to de-stress when I’m going through a tough time.
Yoga isn’t something that I practice on a regular basis, but the times that I have participated in it have definitely helped me to relax. I would recommend hot yoga, if you can last the entire time! It’s all about clearing your mind and focusing on the present. Yoga not only helps to reduce your stress level, but also improves your flexibility, improves muscle strength and tone, helps with weight loss, and also increases your endurance. Running is another great physical activity that helps me to reduce stress. I feel like I’m exerting all of that negative energy back into the universe.
2. Prayer and Meditation
Both of my grandmothers were heavily involved in the church and had always made sure that I knew God, and since I was attached at both of their hips as a child, that has had a strong influence in my religious background. I know that no matter what, I can go to God in prayer for anything, and that somehow always makes me feel better. I’ve also been reading a lot about mindfulness over the past year or so. Mindfulness is described as a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. It’s clearly very similar to what one can achieve by practicing yoga. Obviously, it decreases stress, but it also helps to improve your memory, boosts your mood, helps you to become less reactive, and enhances your creativity. I often do this while in the shower. If you want to know more information on practicing mindfulness, click here.
3. Listen to music…Loudly (while singing…loudly)
Music is so therapeutic for me. It helps me take my mind off of whatever’s taking over my brain at the moment and just let go. Some of my favorite de-stresser music is anything by Jhene Aiko, SZA, The Internet (it’s a group), and Solange. There have been a few times that I wanted to go off on a co-worker or two, but I chose to put my headphones in and listen to Sister Solange and Pastor P on “A Seat at the Table” instead. Oh it helps, trust me! I just wouldn’t suggest listening to music that would make you even more mad, because that’s most definitely a possibility as well. For instance, don’t go listening to Beyonce’s “Don’t Hurt Yourself” if your man was cheating on you. You might end up really hurting him!
4. Write it Down
Something that really helps me get out of my own head is to write down the good things that happened to me that day or that week. Some people even chose to write down the bad things in order to let it out and let it go. In reality, nothing is ever as bad as it seems and there’s always something to be grateful for in your life. For every one bad thing that happens, I’m willing to bet that there are nine other really great things that have happened to you. If you can focus on those things instead of getting really upset about that one bad thing that happened in that one moment, that is growth!
5. Get Some Fresh Air
Some people may not understand this, but nature is another really great stress reliever for me. If you’re someone who starts freaking out when a mosquito flies near you, then this is not for you! It’s something about the fresh air and peaceful sounds in the background that helps me to relax. There have been plenty of times that my fiance’ came home and found me sitting on the balcony. Sometimes I’m writing. Sometimes I’m just sitting there. Thank God he understands me my strangeness. I just find it really calming to get away from our phones or the television and just be. I feel like I find the most clarity when I’m doing this.
Whether you find my personal stress relievers helpful or not, you should definitely find some way of taking your mind off of your daily battles. If you don’t, they will more than likely end up taking over you.