Saturday, May 12, 2018

Ways to De-stress

I have been wanting to write this topic since forever! As you guys can see from the title, I'm coming for you this time to share some tips and ways to unwind and relax. This is something you should apply to your daily life and stop being that person who always on the go, go mode. I mean, everybody has to do their job whatever it is, but sometimes we forget to slow things down and in the end, we feel overwhelmed and stressed with everything we have going on in our lives. If you are not aware with how your mind and body works, working too hard and stressing too much can lead you to burnout, when everything seems dark and dreary and you have nothing left to give. Sounds really terrible, right?

Let me share a little something from where I'm standing right now. Being a final year student at uni is not an easy role to go through, I admit that 100%. Those final essay, research paper, thesis, or whatever you might be dealing with, takes a lot of hard work. Since I'm a morning person and I do things best in the morning time, I have to wake up two hours prior to my regular waking up schedule. The past couple months, I have been waking up so early around 5AM to make extra time to do my research paper. The thing is, it's not as easy as I thought, you know, sometimes we are stuck and have no idea to write about, not enough writing material, never ending revision from the supervisor, those things make it super hard to deal with. Not to mention that I keep thinking about the worst stuff that could be happened to my research paper all day everyday. It's like, every spare minutes seems to be filled with worrying. With that being said, I'm feeling way more stressed than ever! To overcome this problem, I try my best not to taking it too hard and pushing myself excessively. I keep telling myself that living a more stress free life is possible by adopting some of these effective, easy and practical ways to my daily routine in order to beat this stress monster. I hope you will find these tips helpful as well.

Pen to Paper
When you are stressful, you might have a ton of things racing in your mind. Your mind isn't able to shut off, you can't relax fully and it's really difficult to focus on anything else. When that happens, try this pen and paper thing. Have a piece of paper and start to brain dump everything. Trust me, you'll feel a lot better afterwards. You can see things more clearly and you can start sorting out and prioritising them. There are tons of benefits from doing this brain dump exercise, research shows that the act of physically writing things down helps you encode it in your memory and improves your recall, too. You can practice this exercise daily, I like to have this session before I go to sleep or in the morning.

Moreover, having a physical planner, journal, and calendar will also keep you on track of everything. Or if you are more a digital person, you can fill out your Google Calendar or any organisation apps that you use. I like to keep a gratitude journal, too. Now, it's a part of my daily routine to make a list of things that I'm grateful for every single day. When you are stressful, it's good to make time to appreciate what you already have in your life. It will allow for more positive energy to come in to your life.


Get in the Nature
I'm really thankful that I live in a good surrounding with beautiful nature, lots of trees and flowers that I can look around. Every time I start to feel anxious and stress, I put on some music through my earphones and walk around the neighbourhood. If you want to experience the full nature feel, set aside your phone or music player and just enjoy the sound of bird chirping, wind blowing, and other soothing sound. Nature has been proven to help basically everything. When you are stress, just go outside. There will be time where I'm inside, doing so many things, trying to mark everything off from my to do list and I forget to go outside and then when I step outside, I feel so much better, you know, I wish I came out earlier. For me, it's an instant mood booster. As an alternative, you can also try road tripping, hiking, or camping.

Get Moving
Make time and do those exercise that you have been wanting to do, either it's going to the gym, running outside in the nature, hiking, doing yoga, or maybe doing a dance workout at home. For me when it comes to exercise, I always choose yoga or cardio workout at home. First, it's easy and cheap if you are doing it at home. You can browse all of the free home workout videos from YouTube through your computer or laptop or even your phone! You just need to have some equipments like yoga mat and your shoes.

Pamper Yourself
It's time to give yourself a break and do all the things to take care of your body. Giving yourself love  is a must. You can express the love for yourself by doing things that are going to make you look and feel your best. Incorporating a pamper routine to your daily basis will help you to be more aware of your physical condition and do things to comfort yourself. There are a few ways that I like to do to pamper myself, typically after when I have had a long hectic-tiring week, from taking a warm bubble bath on Sunday evening, applying face mask, getting a manicure and pedicure, getting a full body massage, and having a skincare routine every night before I go to sleep.

Read
This one is hands down my favorite thing to do. On my current routine, I like to grab my book and read it right after I wake up, during the afternoon break and before going to sleep. Reading helps my mind to focus. It's also a way of escaping from the busy activity and just being off the grid for a while. According to an article I found on The Telegraph, a research done by the University of Sussex, reading can reduce stress levels by 68% and ease the tensions in muscles and the heart. Looking for some books recommendation? Click here to find out some of the favorites by yours truly.


Play Good Music
If you are hoping to decrease your stress level, simply put on your favourite tunes. Music leads to positive emotions. According to a study published in the journal called Psychosomatic Medicine, self-selected music relieves stress effectively. My go-to music station has always been Spotify. Recently I have been listening to a bunch of original song from movies, like High School Musical 1, 2, 3, Mamma Mia!, La La Land, The Greatest Showman, etc.


Listen to Audio Book or Podcast
You can play audio book or podcast while you are cleaning the house, working out, or driving if you want to. Listening to audio book in particular is a convenient way for those of you who don't have time to read. Listening to podcast also a good way to gain a lot of new and exciting information. Recently I have been listening to The Mustards, a couple from Berlin that is hosting a podcast about everything from minimalism, travel, love, food, health, interior design, movies, politics, fashion, etc. Or if you are like me and have this weird obsession of fairy tale story, you can let them play too. If you haven’t known already, spotify has this fairy tale playlist featuring well-known tales like beauty and the beast, little red riding hood, emperor’s new clothes, etc.


Try New Atmosphere
Going somewhere you have always wanted to go or trying something new is a great way to relieve your stress. Being in a new atmosphere will give you not only a new insight, but also an instant boost.  It's not always have to be those fancy holiday or going on a long trip to Europe, but try and experience the little things like going the to new restaurant that you have been wanting to try with your friends, going to a newly-opened book store in town, going to a concert, or doing new things that absolutely out of your comfort zone, maybe trying a mountain climbing for the first time, riding a roller coasters, taking a pottery class, or whatever it is, just do it. At the end of the day, you'll realize that they will give you a bunch of new, interesting and unique memories.


Meditate
Have you ever thought of doing meditation? If you haven't already, I suggest you to give them a try because it's worth a go. Rohan Gunatillake, Director of Mindfulness Everywhere and the Author of Modern Mindfulness book explain that meditation is the use of techniques to direct such as concentration, clarity of awareness and acceptance. Meditation also helps you to reduce your stress level, either by listening to a guided meditation or practicing a simple breathing techniques. Simple breathing techniques can put you in a more relaxed state as they send oxygen through your bloodstream, helping to calm you down, letting go of your whirling thoughts and beat the stress. Meditation can be done in a very formal way, such as in the classic sitting posture on the ground or cushion with eyes closed for a certain amount of time in a quiet place. Or it can be done in a more dynamic way or on-the-go style alongside our everyday activities, for example while you commute, stuck in the traffic, waiting in lines, etc. There are tons of apps that you can download to guide you through your meditation journey such as, Calm, Simple Habit, and Headspace.


Hobby to the Rescue
Maximize those hidden skill you have and use it as your stress reliever. During my free time, I have to make sure that I'm not trapped in a condition where I unconsciously on my phone, scrolling through social media and just laying in my sofa or bed. Isn't it better to use that time to do the thing that you actually love and enjoy? A hobby perhaps? Making a time for your hobby, somehow, can provide a break with a purpose, which can help people feel that, "Hey, I'm not just sitting around with my phone and do nothing...", but are using their free time for something more productive. Doing your hobby also provides a nice break in a busy week.

As you guys can see from the picture below, I'm still enjoying writing actual letter, decorating them and sending it to my pen pal. I just love doing it as a hobby! Making art and getting creative is a form of my meditation and it also makes me a happy human being. Art is filled with so much fun, or just by doing anything that brings you joy will reduce your stress levels and improve the quality of life.


Practicing Mindfulness
I think this one is the hardest thing to establish in this whole entire list of how to beat the stress. I find it so hard to be truly present and aware in the now. My mind keeps whirling around thinking what will happen afterwards or what I should be doing next, but, I have been trying to practice mindfulness in everything that I do for the past couple of years, for instance, while in the shower, eating, walking, etc. I try to enjoy every single second that I have and just be. The thing about stress and feeling overwhelmed is that you always thinking about actually everything else except for where you are at that moment. We don't want to waste our time by constantly thinking and worrying about things that have not happened yet, right?

Have a Good Amount of Sleep
We all know that those who are sleep-deprived are more likely to claim feeling overwhelmed, sluggish and exhausted during the day. Lack of sleep also leads you to some health issue, one of them is obesity. According to a research, women who slept five hours a night were 15% more likely to be obese than those who slept seven hours. Another study shows that those who go to bed very late are more likely to be overwhelmed with repetitive negative thoughts. Let's work this out, shall we? From what I experienced, maintaining a sleep schedule every day and transform into a routine works wonder to me! The key is to try to sleep and wake up early. I sleep at around 10PM or 11PM maximum every night and wake up at 6AM or 7AM. Rather than watching TV or scrolling aimlessly through your social media 'till midnight, I know that it's better to just close my eyes and rest. Your problems may not be disappear right away, but trust me, a well-rested mind is better to cope with emotions and problems. On the other hand, waking up early will give you extra time to do your routine, so you don't have to rush, it's a more relaxed entry into the day.


Cup of Tea
Something about having a cup of tea helps me to feel relaxed and unwind, even the process of making the tea from putting on the kettle, steeping the tea, and sipping it slowly helps me to quiet my mind. I love me some jasmine or chamomile tea in the morning after breakfast and a few hours before sleep. Try to utilise your tea time as a break from whatever is interrupting you, just clear your mind and be mindful on each sip of tea. Moreover, you can try shifting your thoughts with something that calms and soothes you, maybe imagine yourself sitting in the beach enjoying the scenery or visualise your dream holiday.


Unplug
Try to turn-off your phone once in a while, or at least 30 minutes out of your day, it's not that much, right? You can try to turn your phone off 30 minutes before bed or in the weekend to appreciate your free time with yourself or your loved ones. I know it's hard, but you gotta unplug, think of it like a digital detox. If you're more concerned with checking your Instagram feed or unconsciously checking those endless Instagram Stories than interacting with people in front of you or getting to the next level of your recent game instead of having a pleasant dinner with your family... it might be the time to take a slight step back from technology and be present in the moment. Well, there's more to life than our smartphones, after all. Oops, not to mention, your other gadgets like laptop or tablet, too. Researchers from Kansas State University have found that when people unplugged from work related tasks, such as checking their work e-mail after hours, they reported feeling fresher and better recharged when beginning work the following day. 


Good Aromas
Lighting a candle or setting up an essential oil diffuser around your house or in your room in particular will add those good aromatic vibe around you. For my personal routine, I like to have a burning candle while I'm reading, cleaning the house, doing laundry or working on projects. It's just so soothing. A burning candles not only add those aromatic vibe to your space, they can be rewarding to your health as well. They induce calm and a sense of well-being. They will increase your focus level, too.


A Quality Time with Your Loved Ones
Sometimes, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves, doing everything by our own, keeping things to ourselves, forcing ourselves to carry all the "heavy loads" in our shoulder, we know that it's not healthy at all. Talking to someone might ease this problem. It may sound so simple but I admit that it's one of the best possible things you can do. Putting your thoughts out and explaining it to someone, helps you to refine on the things that are bothering you. The person you tell, your parents, your brother or sister, your close friend, or other relatives might help you to see the situation in a new or different perspective and they might have solutions you have never thought about before. With that being said, it's important to surround yourself with a positive energy by spending time with friends, and having a quality time with your family members, so that you will be happy and have a better mood.

Treat Yo' Self
If you just went through a difficult time, maybe a tiring week at work or an exam week, you should reward yourself. Lighten up the mood with a little something or a gift to yourself, either it's a new clothing, new headphones, or simply just taking a break and watch a new season of your favorite TV show. Do not feel guilty for taking a moment for yourself after an accomplishment. You deserve it!

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So, there you go, relaxing whenever possible and in whatever way works for you is so important than you might think. Aside from recharging and boosting you energy to its top, there are also some health benefits of relaxation. As I quoted from one of the wellness article on huffingtonpost.com, some of the benefits are lowering the risk of catching a cold or any common illness, lowering any heart problems and stroke, boosting your memory, keeping you safe from depression and helping you make a better decision.

After setting your time to relax, convince yourself that's it's going to be ok to back at your normal schedule again, but this time with a clearer mind. It's also important to cultivate some habits, which then help you to stay more organized. Here are some of my essential habits to keep my life in order (most of the time).

Clean and Light Weight Space
The two main subjects that I want to mention for having a clean and light weight space are cleaning and decluttering. In most part, cleaning is not everybody’s cup of tea. It takes time and ain’t nobody got time for that. But, I spend most of the time in my bedroom, so it’s really important to keep them clean and clutter-free. The saying about "You are less motivated when you have your surrounding messy" it's so freaking true and you have to keep that in mind. Check out my cleaning tips here.


#GYST
Before we go further, #GYST stands for Get Your Sh*t Together. I love this idea of picking a day out of my entire week, basically to get my life together. Sunday is my #GYST session to do all the things I need to do to get ready for the week ahead. Before I begin, I like to just sit down and map out how the day is going to go and also to brain dump all of the to-dos in my mind that I have to do throughout the week so I see it clearly. After that, I sort it out on my planner and calendar, from events, meetings, running errands, etc. I also like plan out my meal for the week, types of work out that I have to do at least 3 times a week, so then I have my life on track. I like to look at my life in a weekly chunks, too. If I try to plan my entire month in just one day, it's so overwhelming, so that's why I have this Sunday #GYST routine. Then, I will move forward to the cleaning part. To end the day well, I like to pamper myself with a cup of tea and a good book in my hand, face mask or a bubble bath.

Nourishing Eat
Have you ever heard a phrase “Eat Well, Live Well” or “You are what you eat”? They are totally true! What you eat can affect not just your physical health but also your mental health. If you are continuously feeding yourself with junk food or other health betrayers like alcohol, fried foods, sugar, soda, canned foods with lots of preservatives, it will increase your chances to experience anxiety and depression. From now on, I challenge you to start investing in your beauty and body today. It will bring you a lot more confidence and also transform the way you look and feel. Start making small shifts by eating new foods and adopting new mindsets.

Drink Enough Water
I keep reminding myself to drink water right after I wake up and during the day. It's because that our body needs water to function. Increasing your daily water intake is unexceptional. If your body is hydrated it doesn't work effectively and you will left dizzy, nauseous, cranky and very tired. Drinking water also helps to improve your digestion too, as it helps to free the body from toxins and waste. My top tip to have a good amount of water for your body, I like to keep a water bottle with me at all times. By seeing the bottle itself, there is a big chance as it is a visual reminder for you to sip it throughout the day. You can also re-fill it before bed so that it’s ready for you when you first wake up in the morning. To spice things up, you can also alternate water with infused water, tea or fruits and veggies with a high water level.


I recommend you to carry some of this extra tips on your daily routine so you won't feel overwhelmed again way too often. If you find yourself at that stressful state again, remind yourself to take a deep breath and let it all go. You have the right to find ease again after a long stressful day by doing those things I have mentioned above.

Don't ever think that you have the biggest problem in the world, well, someone out there may be sleeping on the street, having no food to eat, no family or friends to talk to. You'll never know. Remember to always feel grateful and cherish every single moment in your life. I hope this post will be beneficial for you and you are going to practice it right away. Have a nice week and write again soon.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting this! It’s great to be reminded of the things we KNOW to do but forget!

    ReplyDelete