Do you always feel like a piece of saltwater taffy stretched thin between your forefinger and teeth? If you’re continually on edge, you’re putting yourself at risk for a host of health problems. Furthermore, you’re tossing a sopping gray blanket over your enthusiasm for life.
Why not resolve to destress in the new year? Creating little relaxing daily habits can lower your blood pressure and anxiety levels. You’ll look and feel your best, and the people you love will find you a joy to be around.
What’s the first thing you do when your alarm sounds? If you groan and hit snooze, you’re missing a valuable opportunity to start your day right. Instead, why not perform some gentle yoga stretches in bed and wake up your brain with a brief positivity meditation?
If you’ve never meditated before, you can find a ton of free guided resources to begin your journey. Once you cultivate the habit of mindfulness, you’ll find the practice creeps into everyday life. When your colleague makes a quip designed to get under your skin, you’ll take a deep breath and stay centered instead of flipping your lid.
Everyone needs a good belly laugh now and then. A hearty chuckle strengthens your abdominal muscles. Plus, it’s impossible to feel stressed when you’re smiling so hard that your cheeks hurt.
Take the time to bookmark your favorite funny sites to take a brain break when you need a giggle. Find a workmate that you can trade hilarious memes with.
Are you addicted to java? If you drink a ton of coffee, the caffeine can make you feel jittery and stressed. You don’t have to eliminate your rocket fuel, but try alternating each caffeinated cup with a container of herbal tea. Try chamomile or pasqueflower to calm you down, or eucommia leaf to decrease blood pressure.
If you spend 30 minutes deciding what to wear and what to take for lunch each morning, you’re tired by the time you get to work. The average person makes 35,000 decisions in a day, which creates stress. Eliminate unnecessary choices whenever possible by prepping weekday grab-and-go meals on the weekend and laying out your outfit the previous evening. Each Sunday, make to-do lists for the coming week so you don’t waste productive time deciding what to tackle first.
If you’re continually trying to get comfortable, it’s impossible to focus on the task at hand. This year, resolve to make your workspace more ergonomic by adjusting your computer monitor and settings to reduce eye strain. Invest in a variable-height desk to segue from sitting to standing. Upgrade your chair to one that protects your posture and eliminates back pain.
If you have to fight traffic each morning, no wonder you’re in a foul mood before 10 a.m. This year, join or form an office carpool group to reduce your number of days at the wheel. When someone else drives, you can relax and soak in the sights or read. Alternately, investigate public transportation, or walk or ride your bike to work when the weather cooperates. You’ll reduce your carbon footprint as well as your stress levels.
Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural feel-good chemicals that have an opioid-like effect — without the risk of addiction. Find something that you love to blast away stress and unwanted pounds in the new year. You don’t have to drop a bankroll on a pricey gym membership. You can find workout apps to download, or you can put on your favorite tunes and dance around your living room.
Writing in a journal helps you process your emotions. Putting words on paper also helps you to reframe negative thoughts in a more positive light. For example, guilt over a broken resolution changes from, “I never follow through on my commitments to myself” into “I have the power to make beneficial choices every moment of every day.”
Friendships help you relieve stress because they can encourage you when you’re feeling anxious or depressed. If you’ve struggled with loneliness in the past, this year, commit to getting out where the people are. If you’re politically minded, sign up to phone bank or canvas for a candidate you support. Alternatively, enroll in a continuing education course at a community college or join an intramural sports league at your nearby rec center.
Do you struggle to catch your Zs? It’s easier to fall into dreamland when you psychologically prepare for it. Since the blue light from electronic devices can interrupt sleep cycles, create a docking station outside of your bedroom. Plug your phone and tablets in 30 minutes before retiring and leave them alone for the evening. Take a hot shower or bath or lose yourself in a novel. Sip some lavender or valerian tea, but lay off the alcohol, as it can make you wake up halfway through the night.
This year, resolve to love yourself more by easing unnecessary tension in your life. These little daily rituals improve your well-being and make every day sweeter.