It’s official: summertime is gone and the living is no longer so easy. With school, work, after-school activities and the holidays looming just around the corner, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all the things life tends to throw at us this time of year. In order to conquer the daily grind and be the hero of the holidays, consider these 5 tips to de-stress your life.
- Identify the source of your stress. It’s easy to identify major life events that cause stress; a big move, divorce, change or loss of jobs are all things that typically cause stress. It’s the daily stressors that can be a bit trickier to pinpoint. That’s why being honest and realistic with yourself about your thoughts and feelings is a good way to identify the real reasons we freak out. The American Psychological Association recommends keeping a to-do list, journaling or even just verbalizing your feelings in the moment can go a long way in the fight against stress. It can also be a step toward getting the help you need, whether it’s your spouse helping with the grocery shopping or empowering your kids to decide for themselves what to wear the night before, instead of the morning of.
- Unplug and power down. A recent University of Kansas study revealed that excessive smartphone use can lead to stress and anxiety. Our brains are incredible structures. They process so much information, store a lifetime’s worth of memories and through ‘neuroplasticity’ actually change their structure throughout our lives so we can continue to learn and remember things into our advanced years. But brains also need downtime to process the ever-increasing amount of sensory information with which we bombard them. If we are constantly engaging at school and work, then hopping on Facebook and continuing to engage with whatever people are sharing and posting, the brain isn’t getting that break it needs. That also means we’re not involved in activities we find relaxing and fun, less time engaging with the kids and connecting with our loved ones. Power down the tablet, put the laptop to sleep, and silence your smartphone. You’ll be glad you did.
- Get Physical. Physical affection releases oxytocin, a hormone that reduces pain and causes a calming sensation. Whether it’s holding hands with your little one, having a sexy night in with that special someone, or even cuddling up with the dog, giving and receiving affection is a good way to break up stress and anxiety for everyone in the family.
- Get Out. There are a whole bunch of ways getting outside reduces stress. For starters, becoming one with Mother Nature promotes exercise, increases brain function and is an excellent way to get some Vitamin D. The smell of many flowers found outside, including jasmine, lilacs and roses, have been proven to decrease stress and increase relaxation. The scent of fresh pine has even been shown to lower depression and anxiety. Not to mention that much of the United States is transitioning into fall colors right about now, so scoop up the kids, peel your husband away from football and take a day to immerse yourself in nature!
- Just Say No. It can seem as though our plates are always piled high with obligations and commitments which is why cutting stress can be as easy as simply saying no, according to the Mayo Clinic. It is important to remember that other people’s priorities are not your priorities; only you can determine what your priorities are. Politely declining to make yourself available to others on occasion, can free up your schedule to do the things that are really important.
These are just a few way ways you can cut down on the stress of the season and keep everyone in the family sane all the way through to the New Year.