Stress is a part of everyday life that seems to come at us from everywhere these days. At times, it feels like you’ll never get anything done. If you’re feeling too busy and overwhelmed, small changes can make a big difference, and more importantly, they can enable you to take back control of your life.
You can alleviate this day-to-day stress by making some small tweaks to what you’re already doing. And the best part, is that these don’t take a lot of time – they integrate into habits you already have.
5 Micro-Habits to Alleviate Day-to-Day Stress
1. Count to ten.
When you start to feel anxious, frustrated, or upset, take a quick timeout. Slowly count to 10 and focus on your breathing. Take deep, long, deliberate breaths from your belly. Just 10 deep breaths is enough to help you to quickly regain focus and face the challenge with a new sense of peace.
2. Add play to your day.
Exercise is a great way to unwind and relieve the worry in your life. But exercise doesn’t have to involve a lengthy, strenuous workout session at the gym. Anything fun that gets your body moving will do the trick.
When you exert yourself physically, your body releases endorphins. These endorphins act like your body’s natural “feel good drug.”
Do some Jumping Jacks. Play with your kids after work. Run around the yard to get your blood pumping. Put on a favorite song and start dancing. Even the simple act of clapping can reduce stress and anxiety.
For some more movement tips, check out this post.
3. Stretch and flex.
Taking a moment to stretch and flex your muscles, especially around the neck and shoulder areas can do wonders for alleviating stress. Stretching your muscles allows more blood to flow into them and relax them. The more relaxed your muscles are, the calmer your mind will be and the easier it’ll be to focus.
Tense each muscle in your body, one at a time, and hold for a few seconds. Then release each muscle slowly. Repeat with each muscle group. I am on a lot of Zoom calls these days, so will practice this hold and release method during calls and then do my 5-minute desk exercise between meetings.
4. Get some rest.
Your body needs enough rest to recharge and maintain peak condition. A “power nap” is perfect for getting your rest quickly, especially if you have a busy schedule. Instead of lying in bed and taking a full nap, try closing your eyes in a quiet room for about 15 to 20 minutes. A shorter nap can often be more effective and provide a greater boost of energy to help you sail through your remaining tasks.
5. Eat well.
Last but definitely not least, to manage your stress look at what’s on your plate.
I’m a functional nutritionist so you know I wasn’t going to give you a list of easy stress relievers and not mention the power of food. The right foods can help alleviate our stress, but the wrong foods can also make our stress feel much worse.
Nuts, berries, and basic carbohydrates can increase the level of serotonin in your body. Serotonin is our “happy” hormone and helps regulate your mood. If you eat foods that support your body’s stress response system, your body will be prepared for challenges and you’ll often be able to relieve stress and anxiety before it starts. Here’s my stress-busting kale salad recipe to get you started.