#1 Practice Daily Meditation or Prayer
Even just 10 minutes of this in the morning before you get the kids up or sit through traffic can have tremendous effects on your overall stress level. The quiet time not focusing on your never ending list of to-dos refocuses your mind and trains your brain to enter a calmer state. Specifically meditation affects the lateral prefrontal cortex and the medial prefrontal cortex, when your brain meditates it helps you look at things more rationally, logical, and have a balanced perspective. Daily practice ensures your brain sticks with its new found ways of thinking rather then reverting to its old ways. Secondly, prayer acts in a similar way. Giving your worries and concerns over to a higher being and trusting they will care for those stressors allows you to release them and not carry them with you throughout the day. Depending on how you pray, many of the meditation benefits will crossover into the prayer benefits as well. Practice these daily and watch your concerns become less and less…of a concern.
#2 Take Stretching Breaks
This is a really simple trick, it’ll drastically help your day move along better too. Block your work into 90-120 minute working sessions and set alarms in your phone or calendar for 10-15 minute breaks, you should be eating every 2 hours so it’s a great time for a snack and water refill, but its also going to be your new stretching time. Find 1-2 stretching routines you can do during these breaks for your entire body (or print the suggested ones below) and watch how your body responds. This is going to get the blood flowing to help you concentrate better once you go back into your next 90 minute session, its also going to help your muscles to relax and relieve some of those aches, pains, and soreness. Once it boosts your energy you’ll be thanking me for how much more productive you are during the day (in turn also relieving more stress) and the relaxation benefits will make this a no brainer to keep in your daily routine.
#3 Digitally Disconnect
Having your phone ping you every few seconds or minutes is enough to drive anyone insane. I hereby give you permission to NOT respond ASAP or check every time someone messages, texts, emails, or writes on your wall. Turn the phone off during your focused 90 minute sessions and only check during those 15 minute breaks after your stretching is done. Most importantly, in the evenings during family time or before bed with your spouse…keep the phone checking to a minimum. You have built in stress relief by enjoying your family time, don’t ruin it with the constant pinging and feeling like you need to respond right at that moment.
#4 Do Those Things You Love
There should be time build into your schedule to be engaging in things you love beyond your work, family, exercise, and other obligations. Maybe it’s the weekly painting class you always wanted to take or the workout classes that make you feel amazing, but finding time for yourself to do the things that reenergize and rejuvenate you are one of the best methods of stress relief.