Thank you, Aveeno® Active Naturals for sponsoring this post as I share my favorite stress reducing tips.
We hear it over and over and over… want to lose weight? Reduce stress. Want better sleep? Reduce stress. Want clearer skin? Reduce stress. Want better relationships? Reduce stress.
And if you’re anything like me, (and the majority of the population) you kind of wonder how exactly that can happen, how can we work to daily reduce stress… without actually causing more stress in the process. We all feel stresses on a daily basis, and the majority of mine seem to stem from our regular schedules; a baby that is teething and doesn’t want to sleep, keeping up with a working travel schedule and family life, making the right educational choices for our kids, too many deadlines and not enough time, not enough money. From conversations with other women and mothers, my stress triggers aren’t too far off from the norm, and many times, they are outside of our control. For example, the loss of a job or a contract and subsequent drop in income that can trigger stress over money.
I’ve learned that we can’t completely eradicate our lives of stress, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it can be looked at like a low-fuel indicator on our car. It’s a warning sign, an small alarm to let us know it’s time to stop for a moment and take care of ourselves, to refresh, before we are forced into a place of immobility. When we let ourselves and our minds slip into a place of continual stress, we can get caught in a cycle of worry, where stress just compounds and our brain actually loses function. Our memory and ability to concentrate, learn quickly, plan and act decisively can be compromised as a result of a long term flow of stress hormones.
Recognizing when that little warning light flashes, and taking action with one of the stress-relieving steps below is a way that I’ve learned to find the good, the beauty, in all moments of our lives… even when there are stressors. These are ways to unwind a bit and take that needed moment to refuel.
Get it out.
Whatever it is that has you stressing… to-do lists, people to call, emails to send, projects to finish, etc… just write it down. Get it out of your head and onto paper so that you can give your mind a rest. This doesn’t meant that you will or won’t get to it, and it’s not the same as making another to-do list (although that helps me as well!). This is more of a brain dump activity. Keep a notebook handy so that you always have it available to go back for reference, and when you feel yourself worrying that you’re going to forget something with all that you’re trying to remember, get it down on paper. You can take this a step further and dump thoughts, emotions, ideas, etc… all in that notebook.
Take to the sand.
I live near a beach, and this one is easy for me to do, and yet it seems like I don’t get there as often as I’d like. Besides the health benefit of a walk, being barefoot in the sand allows the sand to massage the bottoms of your feet, which increases circulation. The tactile nature of sand beneath your feet and between your toes also awakens your senses, as your feet are pressure points for your body, which can be relaxing, soothing and rejuvenating. So if you’ve got a beach, or a park, or a sandbox nearby, use it! Enjoy nature and soak in some vitamin D in the process.
There is nothing at like cuddling up at the end of a long day with a great series or a movie. It’s one of my favorite pastimes, along with my husband… and takes my mind to a completely different place. We’ve spent so many Christmas breaks with a series or two. Oh Lovely Day just posted a list of five favorite shows to binge watch, of which I’ve not seen any… so they will be next on my list.
Read a book.
Sometimes it’s hard to take the time for reading, especially for pleasure. According to a book I’ve been reading, The Artist’s Way For Parents, in talking about taking time for yourself to read… “Giving ourselves fifteen minutes a day that is our own can turn our anxiety into optimism… by taking a “selfish” moment, we actually become more productive.” So let’s give ourselves and our families the gift of self-care. Pick up a book, something that brings you pleasure and take even just a few short minutes a day to read. This is especially a great way to relax before bed, as even a movie or Netflix binge as mentioned above can sometimes be too stimulating before sleep.
Go for a run.
Being physically active is known to reduce stress, and is meant to be simple. Tie up your shoes and go for a run, just you and maybe your best music mix. Running not only produces those good old endorphins, but it also gets oxygen flowing to your brain, all while out in fresh air and away from whatever that stressor is. If you don’t want to make running a habit, take to the pavement whenever you need a boost of energy and a surge of good hormones.
Take a deep breath.
Researchers at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital found that eight weeks of relaxation training resulted in changes at the cellular level that countered the damaging effects of stress. So spending up to 20 minutes a day taking a breath, whether through yoga, stretching, deep breathing exercises and prayer, will improve your body, brain and mental health from the inside out.
Make your self something good to sip, whatever your drink of choice may be. A cup of hot tea is a relaxing option, especially with all of the decaffeinated soothing blends available. But whether you’re drinking chamomile or green tea (or whatever else your choice may be), take a few moments to sit, sip and breathe. You’ll feel your heart rate even, your breaths deepen and your anxiety lessen.
Yep, you heard me. Pretend to be a kid again, and if you have kids… then even better! Get down on their level and play. Forget about anything else in the moment and pick up a toy, play a game, eat milk and cookies. Whatever it is, take a few and act like a kid. You know how they live a carefree life? We can too, a little at a time. Believe me, you’ll feel better.
Make it a spa night.
Take some time to yourself, and make your own DIY spa right at home! Run an almost hot bath (you don’t want to strip your body’s natural oils by making it too hot) and add a cup of epsom salts and a few drops of your favorite relaxing essential oils to calm your body, soothe your muscles and allow your mind to de-stress while you soak. While you’re at it, illuminate your skin too! Before you head to the tub, mix up a miracle facial mask with a mashed up banana and a bit of honey. Oh, and you know that tea you made earlier? After sipping, place two used tea bags in the refrigerator to cool. You can always whip up a natural and quick body scrub in the kitchen too… then bring it all with you to the bathtub.
Wash your face with a gentle cleanser in the tub, like Aveeno® Ultra Calming® Foaming Cleanser, with Active Naturals® Calming Feverfew®, a natural ingredient related to chamomile, so it will help relax while reducing the appearance of redness as it lifts away dirt, oil and makeup. Apply your facial mask and allow to dry for about 10 minutes before rinsing off with a warm washcloth. Then apply the cooled tea bags to your eyes, lay your head back and rest until the bathwater cools. Follow up after bath by applying a moisturizer like Aveeno® Ultra-Calming® Daily Moisturizer SPF 15 to your fresh face.
Turn it off.
Sometimes the best way to shut down your mind is to unplug from everything else. If you need a break from the digital world, take it. Don’t feel guilt for stepping away from emails, calls, social media and text messages for awhile. In fact, it’s been reported that “checking your email while performing another creative task decreases your IQ in the moment 10 points. That is the equivalent of not sleeping for 36 hours – more than twice the impact of smoking marijuana.” That in itself is enough to make me turn it off for awhile.
I hope some of my tips for relieving stress help you! I’d love to know, what tips do you have to lessen the stress in your life?
Thank you for supporting Fresh Mommy Blog and occasional sponsored content. This is part of a sponsored post for Socialstars #Aveeno and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
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