Stress and anxiety are common experiences for most people. In fact, 70% of adults in the United States say they feel stress or anxiety daily. During times of high stress is when self-care routines really matter, so we decided to put together the ultimate stress combating morning routine, to get you starting your day on the right foot. Choose to do just a few or all of the activities in your morning routine, and it will ensure a relaxed start to your day.
Writing things down is a great way to handle the stresses of life. The tangibility of getting them out of the mind and onto the page can help us let them go. Journaling around your stresses is one approach, another is jotting down what you’re grateful for. Gratitude may help relieve stress and anxiety by focusing your thoughts on what’s positive in your life, and helping to identify all the resources you have available to cope with the stress you’re experiencing. Check out our blog on the powers of gratitude journaling here. Journaling does not need to take long – between 5 and 15 minutes is enough.
Meditation is another well-researched stress-relieving practice that has been proven for decades, to relieve stress in both the short and long term. Meditation can be kept really simple, it doesn’t need to be complicated, and even a few minutes of practice per day is enough. There are many excellent apps with guided meditations that take the guesswork out of the process and allow you simply to relax and enjoy.
If meditation still feels a little intimidating for you, then try mindfulness. Mindfulness is any practice that anchors you to the present moment. It can help combat the anxiety-inducing effects of stress and negative thinking. When you’re focused on the present moment, there’s no ability to think about anything that has happened in the past or might happen in the future and when practiced consistently it can have really positive effects on your stress levels. All you need to do to practice mindfulness is to take five minutes and only focus on one behavior with your full awareness. It could be eating, cooking, cleaning—anything you like.
If neither meditation nor mindfulness sound appealing to you, try guided visualizations. They require little beyond laying or sitting in a comfortable position and listening to a voice take you on a beautiful journey. You can find many great ones on Youtube, like this.
Putting physical stress on your body through exercise ironically relieves mental stress and exercise is one of the most well-known stress relief activities out there. The benefits are strongest when you exercise regularly. If stress is making you feel anxious throughout the day, even quick bursts of movement that increase your heart rate are great. Even a simple set of 20 star jumps can activate several neurotransmitters, including dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine that enhance your mood to help cushion some of that anxiety and stress.
If all out exercise doesn’t sound appealing, then simply taking long walks as part of your morning routine allows you to get the benefits of movement in a relaxed manner. Walking is a simple but effective way to rejuvenate your mind and body. Activities like walking that involve repetitive movements of large muscle groups can be particularly stress-relieving.
Creativity is also a proven way to reduce stress, but you don’t need to be good at art to reap the benefits. Drawing, painting, doodling, or even picking up an adult coloring book can help reduce your stress levels. Research consistently shows that coloring can have a meditative effect, proving to reduce anxiety – mandalas in particular.
The ancient practice of yoga has continued over centuries for good reason. The combination of controlled breathing, movement and meditation creates the holy trifecta of stress reduction in one practice. Research has found that yoga may even be as effective as antidepressants for treating anxiety and depression. A single yoga session will bring stress relief – prolonged practice will help you reduce overall stress.
An easy way to induce calming effects is slow breathing. Belly breathing, in particular, may improve mood, attention, and levels of cortisol. Diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, and paced respiration are also all great techniques to reduce stress. But simply focusing on your breath, or shifting the way you breathe can make a huge difference to your stress levels. This video explains how to practice diaphragmatic breathing.
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