Are you feeling stressed out? Burnt out? Pulled in a million (bazillion) different directions?
Between juggling work, relationships, families, finances, fitness, and (those seemingly far-away) personal goals….it can feel like your mind is being whipped in a blender. . .and left pooling into a pile of grey mush. Helloooo, near-future mental breakdown?
We can all get caught up in the busyness of life sometimes. But if too many weeks have gone by where your mind is in a frenzy, be aware that your brain is taking a serious batting – watch this Brainfacts.org video if you want to stress out about stressing out (or be fired up enough to stop the cycle):
So instead of scrolling through your Facebook feed for the thousandth time, or watching The Bachelor on T.V. (because hey, guilty pleasures are good for you, right?), I’ve got some better tips ahead. Here are:
5 Easy, Empowering Everyday Ways to Refuel and Reset Your Frazzled Mind
A walk in nature is nice and all, but there’s something about a RUN that’s truly transcendental. Want to dump off some emotional baggage, if just for a few minutes? Feel energized, light, and free? Gain some fresh perspective? Well, running as a hobby is honestly your temporary “out” (and a healthy one at that).
Science studies have proven that jogging (for even just 20 minutes) increases focus, new neuron growth, and memory retention, while reducing anger and stress, and other endless benefits. Read more in this heartfelt and fact-based analysis from New York magazine’s The Science of Us website.
How To Start Running Today
Run for pure pleasure, at least in the beginning (without keeping track of minutes or miles). Start with merely 5-10 minutes, even if it’s a pathetic shuffle for a while. You may find running right away in the morning is the most rewarding. It WILL get easier with each day — just trust the process. As they say, running is 90% mental and only 10% physical.
Let your mind and thoughts drift as you stride. Focus solely on your steps or breath, or analyze every wandering through or scenario happening in your life. . .think of people you know or wish to meet, places you’ve been or yearn to visit, personal projects you’d love to start. Switch days between running with music, and without (because both options make you feel and think differently). Whatever your mood (or mode) is, just let your mind “run” wild!
After weeks of running and feeling as though your legs are on autopilot (and your mind in a world of its own), you’ll get what “runner’s high” is really all about. You’ll find elation and self-confidence come effortlessly with every stride.
#2. YOGA / MEDITATION
If you get into the groove of running (and that whole mind-body connection), how about connecting those two entities with some SOUL? Meditation and yoga, like running, have been proven to literally change the brain (in 8 weeks, based on studies), as well as helping to significantly decrease stress and anxiety while increasing concentration, empathy, attention, and more. Read more about the benefits in this fascinating Forbes article.
The body and mind are merely a vehicle of expression – whether that be physical, creative, or intellectual. But yoga and meditation together invigorate all three modes (and go beyond with the spiritual – and this doesn’t mean religion; it just means connecting with your inner emotions and beliefs. It’s that fire of passion when you love what you’re doing, or that never-resisting niggle in your soul when something’s missing.
You’ll tap into that feeling often with yoga, which offers the perfect blend of feeling powerful and softened all in one. The easy flow of moves, the strength-holding poses, and beautiful music and mantras flowing in the background feel absolutely magical (once you find the right teacher/studio for you). Your mind will feel centered, calm, and almost childlike blissful. THIS is what self-nourishment is all about.
START PRACTICING YOGA TODAY
Sign up for a weekly yoga, preferably a therapeutic or restorative-focused course. Know that’ll it take time for yourself to get used to the foundation of moves, and especially to knowing how to center your mind and keep it connected to the present. If you’re a master to-do lister, this will definitely be a change of pace (and perhaps a challenge) for you. Maybe the calming atmosphere feels phony or cheesy at first. But over time and dedication, you will realize it’s anything but. You’ll especially savor those savasana rest periods (at the end of each class) and feel as though you’ve cocooned up and reawakened with your wings spread wide and free.
Also, slowly start integrating your mindful practice to everyday tasks. . .like cleaning that huge pile of dishes, in the midst of texting a friend or old flame, answering annoying work emails, anything. Close your eyes, take a breathe or two, and really focus on a task without fretting or getting annoyed. If you feel anger or impatience setting in, just acknowledge it, and kindly push it away. Breathe in, and out, and bring your mind back to your task, and treat each step or movement as a careful, considerate practice.
You will see through time how the ebbs and flows of yoga and meditation bleed into each moment, each minute, each good, mundane or terrible life experience and encounter with others. You have the power of choice in how you react. . .to EVERYTHING. Choose wisely, and kindly.
#3. ENJOY A LONG, RELAXING SHOWER
Bathing is something we all do. . .yet take for granted. You may snicker at this statement now (especially if you’re a 5-minute hop-in-and-out type), but stop and let the idea of showering as a self-care ritual sink in for a minute. If you don’t live alone, think of what little time you have just to be 100% by yourself. (crickets chirping). Crazy, right?!
In today’s society, even when we are “alone”, we’re attached every nano-second to checking social media and seeing what everyone else “is up to” (everyone at their brightest and best filtered looks and fun events). Just as meditation triggers and opens new circuits in the brain (because of it’s calming, self-focused practice), showering activates that same mindset. Ever wondered why you get flashes of genius when you’re finally doing nothing or settling into R&R time? Check out the science behind why a shower is power for your creativity in this mental floss magazine article.
So if you crave some pure peace (without bosses, parents, or significant others wanting or asking things of you), lock the door and get ready to indulge. Rethink of your shower as a sanctuary (and enjoy!)
START RELAXING IN THE SHOWER TODAY:
It’s your time. So take your time. No rush. Set at least 30 leisurely minutes aside for an R&R shower session.
Get the water temperature set just the way you like it (hot, cool, warm, a switch every so often, you decide). Let the water flow freely down your back and head like a massaging waterfall, purifying your tired, aching back and soul. Suds up, and relish your favorite scent, your ability to smell, to breathe, to just be. You have nobody to take care of at the second but yourself. Let the day’s worries wash away in this pure moment.
Enhance your experience with a waterproof Bluetooth speaker (with soft, soothing acoustic tunes crooning through) and perhaps some water soluble pens for marking down ideas on the side wall (you know, those article ideas or pros/cons lists of a big decision that come rushing through you. . . finally!)
And when you turn the water off, you are finally clean (and clear-minded), ready to start the next (or current) day with a fresh start.
#4. GO FOR A DRIVE (BY YOURSELF)
Picture an open road, with nowhere in particular to go. Windows down, vibes up, and the perfect soundtrack (of your life) blaring out your speakers.
Does this sound too good to be true? Like an image out of a movie, right? Let’s be real – car drives are usually a headache and a half. It’s a jammed-up highway of hell, filled with pissed off drivers, people going 15-20 m.p.h over because they’ve got somewhere so “important” to be, and usually upset, anxious passengers in the car critiquing your every maneuver. Let’s just say driving is…tense. Road rage is what it’s about.
But what if a drive could be enlivening? A mini road trip away from the mundane tasks or drama going on in your life?
Rethink about treating the car as a vehicle of your soul. A solo drive does wonders for your mind (especially if you just got in a fight with someone, are stuck in a situational rut, or just want some freedom). It can even get your creative wheels slowly turning again (pun maybe intended).
Solo drive benefits are expanded upon in this blog piece from Gigi Engle, Editor of Elite Daily.
START DRIVING TODAY:
Is there a mini place you go you’ve always wanted to visit? A beach, or park? A new route you’ve always been curious about?
Even driving to work (if you do so by yourself), can be utilized as a relaxing ritual.
Take a new route today, and leave early enough so that you’re not stressed. Now the real trick: practice trying not to get mad at people driving differently from you (too slow, too fast, discriminating against semi truck drivers, mini vans, Escalades, or beaters). Don’t judge for once; you don’t know the people’s lives and issues resting inside those glass windows. Be considerate, and open.
Focus on steering your own wheel. Your car model type everyone sees is nothing but a surface shell. The real you exists inside, focused on the goals ahead without worry, or complaint.
When you stop at headlights, don’t get impatient. Stop, look around, enjoy the nature and people around you. The road is always in flow, cars heading off to different places, filled with love and joy, or fear, sadness or anger. Each car holds inside a unique individual, stopping and going, steady in one lane, or switching to and fro, deciding where the next best route is. Gettin’ by.
But along it all, you are the driver of your vehicle: aware, careful, yet free. Coasting along on this busy, fascinating road of life.
#5. CALMING BEDTIME RITUAL (+ GRATITUDE JOURNAL)
If you’re in a frenzied place in your life right now, I bet deep, restorative sleep is literally but a dream to you. Perhaps you go to bed anxious, angry. . .or feeling depressed. Your mind and body are exhausted, but also wound up, and restless. You hit the sack like a soldier who lost his battle, slap the lights off, and (probably) start scrolling through your Instagram account, getting peeved or sad at how beautiful everyone else’s day or night looks like.
When zzz’s finally hit, you still toss and turn all night, wake up several times during the wee morning, and feel like a bear the next morning.
Yep, you’re doing it wrong.
Sleep is not a luxury – it is a necessity. If you are frazzled 24/7, lack of sleep alone can be one of the biggest culprits. Treat your body like a temple. Build a ritual to ease your mind and body into a true, general restful state, and stick to it. Look forward to it. Let it be your calming oasis, even in a midst of an emotional storm.
START A BEDTIME RITUAL TODAY:
Prep for about 30-45 minutes prior. Dim the lights, burn some candles, have an uplifting choice of book by you for at least 5 minutes of reading (ditch the plot-driven novels for a self-empowerment/spiritual choice). Keep the iPhone on alarm-only, and face-down at the opposite end of your bedroom. If you’re a night shower person, this is the perfect segway to winding down and preparing your body to relax and let go of the day.
But the most impactful portion of your night ritual (no matter how you do it) is this: writing in a gratitude journal. Try to list at least 5 things a day, if you can. Get inspired by this Huffington Post analysis on all the great long-term benefits of doing so.
This isn’t an adolescent diary (for those who wary). You can literally bullet-point some positive things you’ve been thinking about recently, or some highlights of your day, no matter how big or small (was it a compliment from a stranger? A smile from a cute guy at the grocery store? Your favorite tune streaming during your cubicle desk job you could care less about?) Whatever it is, list it and expand upon it if you feel up to it. Some days you may feel like the list never ends, other nights you’ll feel so down, you’re embarrassed you can’t even think of one. Just try always to list 5, and focus on the good.
You’ll find through time that we each have the power to choose our lens of life, through the thick and thin. Is your glass going to be half full, or half empty?
Be grateful for every experience, and you’ll always feel centered.
Author Bio: Hannah Fredenberg
Hannah Fredenberg is a retail copywriter with a passion (sometimes for fashion) but largely for psychology and lifestyle/wellness topics. When she's not writing M-F about clothing and accessories, you can find her running outside, hitting up the yoga studio, or reading a book (or two) for hours on end. Check out her copy-writing portfolio at https://hannahfredenberg.contently.com/ or contact her through Twitter (@Hfredenberg) or email at email@example.com