The holiday season is approaching and it’s normal for negative feelings to arise in times of tension, but you shouldn’t have to settle for a persistent sense of anxiety as your default state of living.
Here are a few simple methods you can try out to give yourself the emotional lift you need to enjoy all that life has to offer.
With the weather starting to get a little nicer, now is the perfect time to incorporate a leisurely stroll into your daily routine. Sunshine provides a boost in serotonin, a brain chemical associated with happiness, and moving your body lowers stress hormones and releases endorphins, helping you feel energized and ready to tackle whatever hardships may come your way. Exercise also helps you feel more tired at night, giving you a more restful sleep.
Even on rainy days, you can still enjoy the benefits of exercise indoors. Activities like gentle stretching and yoga help you get in touch with your body to feel at peace, and there’s no better way to put a smile on your face than dancing to your favorite tunes.
Speaking of the healing properties of music, specific genres are known to aid in relaxation. Just like your favorite upbeat tunes get you in the mood to dance, slow and soothing tracks make you feel calmer and more collected. Studies have shown that classical, light jazz and easy listening music can help lower blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones. Native American, Celtic, and Indian pieces are especially effective at relieving stress. Nature sounds like rain, wind, and birdsong are also excellent sources of tranquility.
You can do a simple search for “relaxing music” or “relaxing nature sounds” on YouTube to help you find videos with hours of peaceful content.
A healthy diet is just as good for the mind as it is for the body. Incorporating moderate amounts of fatty fish, eggs, yogurt, and dark chocolate into your meals and snacks provides you with various nutrients that help regulate your mood. Hot drinks, especially herbal tea, are also great for your mental health, as they produce a feeling of warmth that keeps you relaxed.
Of course, the most important thing to remember is not to go for long periods without eating. You’re not your best self when you’re hungry. Sometimes, all it takes is a delicious meal to feel less cranky.
As anyone who’s walked into a room full of fresh baked goods can confirm, your sense of smell has a profound impact on your mood. Aromatherapy, the technique of using scents to achieve positive feelings, is a simple and inexpensive way to make yourself a little happier. Some scents that are known to decrease stress and anxiety include lavender, rose, jasmine, vanilla, geranium, ylang-ylang, bergamot, chamomile, vetiver, and clary sage.
Next time you’re out shopping, consider picking up some candles, incense, or a scent diffuser as a pleasing gift for yourself. Just be sure to practice proper fire safety if your preferred aromatherapy method involves the use of matches or a lighter.
When you’re stressed, your heart starts beating faster, and your breaths become quicker and shallower. Deep breathing exercises signal to the brain that there is no need to panic, helping you to relax.
The key to deep breathing is allowing air into the diaphragm. To achieve this, lie down and place your hands on your stomach. Inhale until you can feel your abdomen rise under your hands, then breathe out and repeat.
A simple exercise to regulate your breathing is the box breathing technique, in which a video instructs you when to inhale, exhale, and hold your breath. You can try box breathing with the assistance of this video from Healthline.
Humans are social animals, so going too long without talking to other people naturally has a negative impact on mental health. While visiting with friends and family is a great way to keep your brain healthy, the current pandemic might not make that possible at the moment. However, talking on the phone, video chatting, or even writing an email or letter can have wonderful benefits too.
When not communicating with others, writing your thoughts down in a journal is an effective way to release your feelings. Compiling a list of things you’re thankful for is especially helpful for putting the sources of your stress into perspective.
There’s a reason why laughter is the best remedy, and there’s no shortage of things to laugh about. Chatting with loved ones, as recommended above, is the best way to make yourself laugh. Funny movies, TV shows, books, and stand-up comedy recordings are also great ways to put yourself in a better mood instantly.
A good laugh relaxes the muscles, increases oxygen intake, dulls pain, and distracts you from whatever has bothered you lately. All in all, it’s one of the most effective ways to reduce stress.
And if you hear a great joke, don’t forget to share it with your friends and family! There’s no better way to improve your mood than to know that you’ve brightened another person’s day.
When you’re feeling down, there are many things you can do to make yourself feel less stressed and anxious. Just follow these easy practices to put your worries and negativity aside, and enjoy a happier and healthier state of mind!