Parenting is very stressful. Rewarding but stressful. As if raising our children is not stressful enough we are usually burdened with additional concerns such as – work, a mortgage, running our homes, etc. There is never enough time in the day. Most of us don’t even realize what stress is doing to our bodies. Here are 10 ways to relieve stress.
Exercise releases endorphins which relieve stress and improve your mood. All you need is 20 minutes a day four times a week to exercise. You can walk, run, dance or ride your bike. Find an exercise that you enjoy. The best way to ensure that you stick to the exercise program is to find a friend or neighbor to work out with. I run with my neighbor. I know that if I didn’t run with her I wouldn’t run regularly but I feel bad to let her down. Three months ago I couldn’t run for a minute but I recently completed the couch to 5 km running program. Now I can run for 30 minutes. To be honest, I actually hate running but I love the post-exercise endorphin rush! It makes it all worth it. Walking and/or running are very effective stress relievers. If you don’t enjoy running, find some form of exercise that you enjoy. You will be glad you did!
Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep is one of the best ways to relieve stress. Make sure that you get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Not getting enough sleep is very stressful and pretty much wastes the next day since we are not alert enough and are often in a bad mood. If you find it difficult to fall asleep then try taking a warm bath before going to sleep and avoid coffee, heavy meals and exercise for at least three hours before going to bed.
Listen to Relaxing Music
Listening to music that you love can actually relax you. Music has been shown to lower levels of cortisol (which is a hormone linked to stress). There are so many videos with relaxing music available on YouTube.com.
Often, when we are under too much stress we don’t take the time to prepare healthy food and land up eating junk food. Healthy food can actually give you more energy to deal with stress and the situations that cause it. Certain foods can even relieve stress including fatty fish (such as salmon), blueberries and almonds. When stressed, many people turn to comfort food such as chocolate and ice cream. Keep healthy snacks on hand so that if you don’t have time to make a healthy meal or if you need a snack it will be a healthy one and not the unhealthy fattening comfort food that we tend to binge on when stressed.
Too much caffeine can cause anxiety. Limit coffee and energy drinks and try drinking green tea instead. Green tea is soothing and has theanine which relaxes the nervous system.
Spend a few minutes each day breathing deeply. If you can lie down it’s perfect but if you don’t have the time you can do it sitting up too. Inhale deeply until your lungs fully expand. When breathing out imagine that you are exhaling all of your stress which is now leaving your body. After only 3 minutes of deep breathing, you will feel more relaxed and less stressed. Try to do this every day for 2 to 5 minutes a day. You can even do it at your desk during work.
Spend 10 – 15 minutes a day relaxing
Find a place at home where you can be alone and spend 10 minutes a day relaxing. It doesn’t have to be an entire room. You can use your bedroom, study, back yard or even bathroom. Turn off your cell phone and spend 10 minutes a day doing something that relaxes you. It could be a bubble bath, meditation, yoga, reading or just drinking tea. If there are things that relax you then try to store them in the room in which you relax. For example, I dedicated a corner of my study for this purpose. In this corner of my desk, I keep some relaxing CDs, a small desktop water feature which I find very soothing and a candle with a scent I love. I try to spend 10 minutes every day relaxing while listening to soothing music and drinking green tea.
Yoga is one of the best methods to relieve stress. unfortunately, most of us do not have the time to take a yoga class. There are many CDs that you can purchase or download which will enable you to take yoga classes without leaving your home or spending too much money. There are also many yoga classes on YouTube. The advantage of a class is that the instructor will ensure that your moves are correct but if you don’t have the time or money to attend classes then YouTube is a great option.
Aromatherapy can help you relax and relieve stress. Inhaling scents such as chamomile, lavender, lemon, sandalwood, and marjoram calms relaxes you and reduces anxiety. How can you inhale these oils? Add essentials oils to a bath, footbath, an aromatherapy diffuser, a potpourri cooker or even to a pot of boiling water.
Guided visualization can relax your body and reduce stress. There are many guided visualization videos available on YouTube.