A few nights ago, I had a call with a friend who told me her day was “really jacked up” and went on to list an unreasonable list of misfortunes, which left her feeling overwhelmed and unable to even think.
Sound familiar? Some of us may say, “every damn day…”
Too often, we stay in that loop of overwhelmed thoughts, with stress hormones wreaking havoc, leaving us feeling trapped and unable to break out of it.
Next time (perhaps tomorrow afternoon) when you’re hitting that place, see if one or more of these tips help you stop the cycle and get your mind back to a calmer place. Please, hack away!
- Get outside and look up. Five minutes will often do it, but 15 or 20 is even better. Leave the phone inside. It’s amazing what looking up and seeing what you see – trees, sky, skyscrapers, flowers – will do for your soul. We spend the day looking at our phones and computers, just bending your neck in a different direction is incredible.
- Call your mom. Or dad, or someone who lives completely outside your crazy day-to-day. It gets me beyond myself, is soothing, and reminds me that there’s more to life than my stress at any given moment.
- The 10-minute yoga break. I love Gaia.com – for $10/month I have access to tons of yoga videos. You can sort by type, length, and focus. One of my favorites is for neck tension and everyone can do it.
- Away from your desk. Sometimes we forget how important this is. I like to cut an apple, add some peanut butter and put it on a plate, use a cloth napkin, add a sparkling glass of water and enjoy.
- Go for a walk. It’s been said that just walking changes the endorphins in the brain. I don’t know science, but I know we all sit much of the day and it’s not okay. This is the fastest way back to clearer thinking. Works in all settings – indoors, hallways, outside – but any movement is great. I have walking phone calls frequently and my mind is clearer for it.
- Have a glass of wine. Wine is so timeless and has been a source of enjoyment for people of all walks for thousands of years. A 4-oz glass of wine sipped slowly in a nice glass is 20 minutes of relaxation that helps me slow things down at the end of a long day. And sometimes, as my local wine bar says, drinking wine at lunch is not a crime.
- Take some time to read. If I’m feeling stuck over a project, vision, or just what the hell am I doing? I turn to books. My Kindle makes it easy to download something new, but I generally have a few around that I’m working on and choose the one that will give me some fresh insight for what’s at hand. My current reads are How the Mighty Fall by Jim Collins and The Breakthrough Company by Keith McFarland. They both are perfect for the stage my company is currently at and I keep coming back to them.
- Change positions. I’m lucky to have a desk, sofa and two chairs in my office. So I’ll switch it up and take my laptop to the sofa to work. You may not have such luxury, but can likely find a lounge, conference room, or if you’re at home – easy, just change rooms – and find that that simple movement releases you and breaks the thought patterns.
- Get into water. Obviously, it’s not possible for most of us in the middle of the day, but a swim, shower, or bath will do wonders. Water is therapeutic.
- Get active. I’m not a big fan of intense exercise. That said, I have found that an end-of-day hot yoga or spin class changes my frame of mind completely. It’s hard to get there sometimes, but I like to have my clothes with me so there’s no barrier to going and then the trick is remembering how fresh and clear and accomplished I feel when I’m done.
- Get out of town. I love being home, it’s my comfort zone and best place in the world. But getting away from home for a day, weekend, or better yet, a full week, changes my perspective. My dreams are different and I wake up with less or even no thoughts of work when I’m away! We like to camp, take the Jeep out, and go on day trips, as these give us a change of scenery and reset the stress meters. Do what you love and can afford.
- Make routines you love and keep them. Sunday mornings are my favorite. When home, and most of the time when traveling, they include the NY Times, Meet the Press and coffee, all luxuriously slow. We often follow with a long bath and mimosas and our favorite music (our jacuzzi bathtub is survival, not luxury for me). Simple routines keep us grounded and just knowing they are there waiting for you brings relief.
- Brain break. I could call this meditation but then some would skip over it. We have a dream room at my office (I know, everyone is jealous, but no one else seems to build them!) – but if you don’t, find a place to get quiet, close your eyes and either put some soothing music on the headphones or a guided meditation. Nothing fancy or frou-frou here, just quieting the thoughts and slowing down the breath.
- Join the crowd. People can be both energizing or draining! I sometimes need #13, and other times need to be with people. My two favorite places are my neighborhood brewery, where I can go with my kids, meet friends, or meet new ones, as well as the one below my office – both are easy to get to, are frequented with people I know, and are each comfortable.
- Get comfortable. I’ll never forget introducing my middle daughter to clothes you can lounge in. She didn’t own any and either wore pajamas or was dressed. She discovered Gap’s line and now calls them “comfies.” And they are both comfortable and comforting. I always have a pair of grey sweats that don’t look good but feel amazing. Just putting them on signals everything is okay and de-stresses me almost instantly.
All in all, take the time to enjoy the small things! Life is both too short and far too amazing to spend it in a constant state of stress, especially when we have so many outlets available to us to help reset our minds. Live slowly and think positively, my friends.