Kendall and Jess tag teaming this post today–and it’s a pretty timely one if we’re being honest!
Today, we’re talking about some small ways to feel less stressed, anxious and overwhelmed when life inevitably gets hectic. As we are now full swing into the holiday season, our personal and professional lives tend to get busier — travel picks up, work piles up, there are more social events on the calendar, more family gatherings (which are always stress-free, amiright?) and more personal to-dos to squeeze in before the end of the year.
When it feels like everything is coming at you all at once — it’s inevitable that you’re going to feel all over the place. Luckily, there are so many quick (even instant) ways to help you reset and relax in the face of stress. Here’s a roundup of our go-to “little ways” to help you find your zen when you need it ASAP.
10 small actions that really help when you’re stressed and frazzled
1. Write a to-do list (and realistically prioritize it)
When too many tasks, appointments, etc. live in our head (or even digitally) it’s hard to think straight. Take a second to write down everything you need to do in no particular order. (Writing by hand always seems more cathartic than digitally!) Getting everything down on paper can help you make room for the first task at hand, and not worry about forgetting something. For whatever reason, getting everything out where you can see it makes it feel less daunting!
Then, take a look at the list and realistically prioritize what you can do today and this week. Get real about what ACTUALLY has a deadline. (No, not the deadline you made up and assigned in your head–the actual one. My personal litmus test is: “Is someone going to die or get fired if this doesn’t happen today?” If not, it can likely wait. It’s not worth compromising your sanity over.)
2. Donate or get rid of something you no longer need
Getting rid of something physically can help you feel lighter mentally! Clutter can be incredibly anxiety inducing. Take a cue from Kelly, who gets rid of 5 things every day and she swears by it–I need to take her lead to be more routine about de-cluttering!
The act of removing something in your space (your home, office, etc.) that no longer serves you can help you feel calmer. Donate any clothing that doesn’t make you feel amazing, pass along a book you’ve already read to a friend or sell a piece of furniture that makes your living room feel too cluttered. The act alone can boost your productivity and help you feel lighter.
No time to dedicate to de-cluttering? That’s ok! It doesn’t have to be a big to-do. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to quickly find 5 items that you aren’t obsessed with anymore to get rid of! Keep a box somewhere to hold your gently used donations and make a trip to Goodwill or Salvation Army every time it gets full!
3. Clear off a high-traffic surface in your space
Along those lines, while you may not have time to fully clean or organize your space when you have a lot on your plate, simply clearing one surface can go a long way. (I write as the pile of old mail is taunting me on my kitchen counter). Every home has that ONE spot that accumulates clutter! Whether it’s your kitchen table, desk or workspace, pick the surface that makes the biggest impact on your mood/viewpoint during the day and remove all clutter and quickly wipe it down.
4. Make your shower work harder for you
Sure sure baths are great, but when you’re in a peak stress season of life–we don’t always have time for those. When you’re feeling stressed, take advantage of your daily shower–drop some Eucalyptus essential oil on the shower floor so it mixes with the steam to create a spa-like experience. Then close your eyes, and inhale that spa-like steam: take five long, deep breaths–in for five seconds, hold for five seconds and slowly breathe out your mouth for another five seconds. Ah, much better!
5. Stretch your body
Our bodies respond to pressure in different ways — from tense shoulders and tight hips to neck pain and headaches. When you feel your body start to take on stress, take a little break to do a few stretches, or try to be consistent about stretching before bed. It sounds minor, but it really makes a big impact. Here are 5 great stretches for stress relief!
6. Get upside down
Inversions (like a handstand or headstand) are a quick way to boost your mood! They take pressure off your spine, trigger the relaxation response of the parasympathetic nervous system, instantly give you a new perspective and encourage you to quiet the mind and focus on the task at hand. You can also achieve this restorative effect by using the wall for support, any pose that allows you to have your head below your heart (such as downward-facing dog) or even simply sitting with your legs up against the wall. (There are several reasons you’re always relaxed after a yoga class–and this is one of them!)
7. Cancel plans/take something off your to-do list
When there aren’t enough hours in the day, sometimes something has to give. Identify the least important task on your plate and remove it, push back a non-urgent to-do or cancel plans that are adding to your stress to make room for what really matters!
Feel guilty about cancelling plans? Just be honest. Tell a friend you need a mental health day, so you need to rain-check. Tell your coworker you need some time for yourself and ask to move happy hour to the new year. EVERYONE understands. (And if they don’t–they probably aren’t a great friend to keep around?)
8. Longer hugs!
Did you know a 10-second hug can make a huge impact in helping you feel stabilized? It can change biochemical and physiological forces in your body that lower the risk of heart disease, combat stress, fight fatigue, boost your immune system and ease depression! I know seasons of high stress are when we are LEAST likely to take time out of our day to give a long hug to someone we love. (Are you also guilty of being extra cranky to your partner lately? Or snapping at your mom?). So next time you’re seeing a friend, your spouse, your kiddo, a family member–whoever! Hug them extra long. (Because honestly, why not? ♥️)
9. Plan something fun to look forward to
Now, this likely won’t speak to EVERYONE (some may consider this to be adding stress) but when I’m in a really busy season, having something to look forward to REALLY helps me be able to power through to the finish line! If you can–book a trip! Go visit a friend, book a weekend getaway with all those points you’ve been saving–treat yourself! You deserve it! Travel ALWAYS replenishes my emotional bank account–even the second I book a trip helps me breathe a little easier, even if it’s months away! (Need inspo? Check out this list of most popular domestic destinations according to GG readers!)
10. Communicate what you need
This is maybe the most important at all, and something that I’m still working at, but I’ve gotten better at in motherhood (because I’ve had to!) Communicate what you need to feel most like yourself, and be honest with whomever you need it from. The people who love you want to help–but you have to take them up on it, and tell them how.
Whether it’s telling your partner you that you need them to tap in with the baby so you can take a nap, have a girls night, or just so you can be alone and read.
Or maybe it’s setting boundaries with a family member that a certain subject they keep bringing up is negatively impacting your mood and you need them to give it a rest for a while–nobody can read your mind and it’s up to you to be your own advocate! You’ve got this.