One of my favorite ways to deal with stress is to head to the gym or go to a yoga class. There’s just something about sweating it out and getting my anxiety out on the elliptical or doing a strength workout that feels so good. I always leave the gym or yoga studio in a better mood than I went in. Endorphins are definitely a thing.
There’s so many benefits to working out, not just physically, but also mentally. It teaches me to do things even when they’re hard, my motivation is low, or I just don’t feel like it. Case in point: when my alarm goes off in the morning, it’s cold and snowy outside, and I make it to the gym despite wanting to stay in my warm and cozy bed.
Working out also gives me confidence that I can tackle those tough things that are causing me stress. I never thought I’d be able to do 45 minutes on the elliptical when I first started working out. Or even be able to squat with the barvbell and do deadlifts. I use that same confidence and grit when it comes to tackling things in other areas of my life that are stressing me out.
It can be really hard for me to slow down. Whether it’s my to do list or dealing with anxiety, sometimes it feels like it’s hard to turn my brain off and just relax. I honestly didn’t think that meditation was going to make much of a difference in my stress levels. I was pretty skeptical. I’m so glad that I did try it though because it made a huge difference for me. Check out this post for all the benefits that I got from meditation.
I’m so grateful that I discovered the Headspace app a few years ago because it’s been a game changer for me. You can find my posts about Headspace here. If you’re like me and aren’t into the woo woo stuff I can’t recommend Headspace enough. It gave me a straight forward foundation about how to meditate and get started. Headspace made it super easy to get started with my meditation journey.
Headspace is a paid app, though you do have access to 10 free meditations that you can do for free. While it’s not in my budget right now, I have subscribed in the past and I loved having access to so many meditations.
During my yoga teacher training one of my instructors recommended the Insight Timer app. While there are some paid components to it, there are a lot of free meditations that you can do. People can download their own meditations so the quality of them definitely varies, but it wasn’t too hard to find ones that I like. I really enjoy yoga nidra so those are my favorite meditations to do on Insight Timer.
If you’ve followed me on Instagram or read the blog for any amount of time then you’ll know that I love to read. I’m always putting books on hold at the library and finding out what my friends are reading and liking.
Spending time reading is one of those things that is a great distraction from whatever I have going on and is a good break for me. One of my favorite genres is historical fiction which lets me escape the present and spend some time in a completely different time and place.
Taking even just a few minutes at a time to read has been helpful with my stress levels. I’m able to use the Libby app with my library so I’m able to borrow all the ebooks and audiobooks that I want with it. It’s perfect for when I’m out and on the go and have a bit of down time – waiting in line or in waiting rooms.
Reading has always been something that I’ve enjoyed. I was a huge bookworm as a kid and I remember riding my bike to the neighborhood library to return books that I had read and borrow another backpack full of them. Now as an adult I find reading something that lets me have a break from my every day life and experience something new.
Spending some time a couple times per week writing down my thoughts, stresses, things I’m grateful for, and what’s causing me anxiety has been so helpful. There’s something about getting things out of my head and down onto the paper that helps so much.
Sometimes it’s just a few paragraphs and other times it’s a few pages if I’m trying to work through something that I’m stressed out about. Journaling has actually been quite helpful in cutting down how much time I spend worrying about things. I allow myself “worry time” and then once I’m done writing I try not to let myself dwell on those things anymore. It definitely took some time and practice, but I’m actually pretty good at it now.
Time with friends
As an introvert it can be really tempting for me to withdraw when I’m feeling stressed. I’ve learned though that reaching out to friends and spending time with them is actually much more helpful for me. It’s so easy to get stuck in my head and think about whatever I’m worried or anxious about non-stop. That’s hard to do with my favorite people when I’m having fun and connecting with them though.
I’m so thankful that I have a few friends that although I only see them a few times a year, we’re able to pick up right where we left off. It’s not weird or awkward at all. It probably also helps that we’ve known each other since we were teens so we have had a long friendship.
I’m so grateful for all of the friends that I have in my life. I don’t know where I would be without them. They’ve been with me through school, jobs, boyfriends, and everything that life throws at me. Knowing that I have people that are willing to listen if I need to talk (and of course I’m there for them too) is such a great way for me to deal with the stress in my life.
What’s one of your top stress relievers? Do you ever use one of the strategies that I’ve listed above?