Stress has become a word that is easy to throw around nowadays. Too much homework? Stress. Too many deadlines? Stress. No food in the fridge? Stress. Whether you are a student, an employee, or a parent, there are bound to be stressful moments that temporarily block your path toward a happier life. Different people handle stress in different ways — not everyone is the same. If you can handle your stress pretty well, then maybe you can gloss over these helpful tips in relieving stress and see if you’ve been doing any of these to maintain a stress-free life. But if you are someone who lets stress push you over the cliff, then you will definitely want to keep reading.
Stress comes from the mind, usually because there are so many things happening at once. If you let those things haunt your mind too long, it will become unhealthy both physically and mentally. So here are ways in which you should declutter your mind and heal it from the stress that has been building up:
Monthly (not weekly) Calendar
Weekly calendars can still be stressful to look at because of every little detail that’s written down for each day. Having a weekly calendar dictates how your days will be spent according to what you wrote and although no one follows through with their schedule 100%, it still leaves a hole inside of you because you could not accomplish whatever task or event you put for that day. However, this is a matter of preference. Many people like using weekly calendars because they want everything planned out so that they don’t have to remember it from the back of their heads. Monthly calendars, on the other hand, give a wider scope of how your weeks and months will go. Instead of writing down everything that’s happening for the day, write down tasks or events that are of major importance. If it is something you can simply cross out, then don’t write it down — that’s what sticky notes are for. They’re reminders or tedious tasks to get you busy, and you don’t need to feel any busier with a planner full of “To-Do’s.” Write down the important things in big, bold letters — highlight them even. These are things you will go back to once you’ve completed them as reference, and using a monthly calendar strengthens your skill of prioritizing.
These babies are taking over all Barnes & Noble stores by storm. If you have not been to a B&N in a while, then definitely visit one so that you can find a table of coloring books once you enter the store. But coloring books are for children, right? Absolutely not. Many of these coloring books are abstract drawings or patterns that help relieve adults from stress. It’s a new form of zen for your mind. If you are a parent, you can definitely get your hands on one of these and sit down with your kid, both of you doing the same thing — coloring. Filling in white space gives you a sense of achievement because it’s no longer empty. When coloring in drawings completely, it is an example of a task getting finished but in a simpler (and more fun) form. Some may argue that coloring only leads to more stress since you have to choose particular colors and follow that pattern, but they are the ones giving themselves that kind of stress over something that should be taken simply. Color without restraint.
Sometimes classical music does little to ease your stress, mainly because the songs are composed of a symphony — a variety of instruments playing together in harmony. You hear different sounds and you don’t know which one you should focus on, therefore giving your mind a sense of chaos. With ambient music, which is like background noise or electronic textures (not persistent beats), it sets the mood or atmosphere you’re in because it sounds completely natural. Say you like studying at a coffee shop because of the noises there — that’s ambient. You focus your mind on what you need to do but you put yourself in a setting where you can drown out those sounds instead of letting them drown you. Ambient involves anything with nature — ocean waves, rainfall, birds chirping, and cars driving by. You hear these all the time so you naturally tune them out, which is why ambient music is perfect to play in the background. Instead of a dead silent room or library, have this music playing so that your ears can listen to something rather than nothing, and you will still be able to accomplish what you set out to do.
This is a no-brainer. Yoga tends to be a word that pairs up with stress, along with meditation that will be covered after this. Though it is easy to say that you want to do yoga, it’s actually harder to commit to it. Yoga is healthy for both your mind and your body — it’s a balance of the two. You can do yoga at home or you can go to a studio that offers yoga depending on how comfortable you are doing strange poses like downward dog. For those who’ve been meaning to exercise but haven’t because you just don’t like exercising, then yoga may be the alternate route for you. While it is difficult to do yoga, it benefits your mind. In other words, you will get something out of doing yoga and not just sore muscles. Everything about yoga is positive and it can’t harm you unless you perform a pose in a severely improper manner. That’s when you need to go to a class so that the instructor can help you and prevent any injuries. Injuries = stress, and that is not what you need.
So how come meditation doesn’t just fall under the same category as yoga? While it’s true that you mediate while you do yoga, you can also just mediate without the yoga part. Meditation seems like it’s only for monks but ask yourself this: why do they always look so peaceful? That’s because they devote their lives to meditation, and while you may not want to go down the path of monk-hood, meditation can still do wonders to your chaotic life. Before you go to sleep, meditate for about 10-15 minutes. That way, you can fall asleep easier and the stresses from the day can be erased from your head. Sleeping with stress is equivalent to having no sleep at all, or at least, a restless sleep. A restless sleep will not do you any good since your body is in constant motion when it’s supposed to be at rest and recharging. Meditation can occur within any time during the day — after work, after eating (but don’t fall into a food coma), on your break, and so forth. It doesn’t take long to relax your mind, even if it’s just temporary. Meditating also works on your breathing, and sometimes, people don’t even realize that they’re not breathing properly. Just think back on when was the last time you took consecutive, deep breaths. You can’t right? That is because you are so focused on other things that your breathing means very little when it is supposed to remind you that you are alive. If you can’t breathe properly then you can’t live to see your work finished.
A journal is another way of saying a diary, but not all of us are angsty teenagers. Many people nowadays keep a journal to write down their thoughts from the day. There are those who prefer to write long entries but writing down your thoughts is another way of decluttering your mind from all the thinking it does on the daily. You can purchase a journal that has blank pages, lined pages, or even a five-year memory book that has you write down your thoughts everyday for those five years. When you look back after the fifth year, you can see how your thoughts have changed and if you have matured in your thinking. Journals can contain anxieties, questions about things you are unsure about but want an answer as soon as possible. You can definitely go back to these questions once you find those answers and think, why did I worry about that in the first place? In any case, journals are a source for your output, a way to let your thoughts and worries visibly appear on the pages — like a transfer. It can also be a way for you to get creative by telling a narrative of your day. Whichever you prefer, having a journal does not mean you like writing in a diary. Reading your thoughts is like seeing a side of you who you have never met before. You suppress that side of you for so long that it needs to come out somehow, and what better way than to see that from simply writing in a journal?
Hopefully after reading these tips, you will take them as you see fit and improve your life without letting stress drag you down. These are not demands but suggestions. As human beings, we cannot avoid stress but we can always alleviate it. Your mind, like your body, needs to be taken care of and just like how your body removes its toxins, so should your mind and that can only be achieved if you declutter your everyday anxieties and thoughts.