I’m going to be honest: I’m stressed out 95% of the time. I love being a full-time freelancer, but just like most jobs, it comes with its downfalls. My schedule can easily go from nice and calm to super overwhelming with a bunch of crazy deadlines and events, which means my top priority needs to be taking care of myself so the stress doesn’t affect me.
I can’t say I follow these methods all the time because I definitely don’t—as you know, life gets busy and sometimes the only stress relief I want is to order some take-out and binge-watch The Office. Whether I’m feeling it or not, I try to at least check off some of these boxes on a daily basis because I know in order to feel like myself, be a good partner, and be successful, I have to stay strong, both physically and mentally. Unfortunately, there’s only so much Dwight Schrute can do for my well-being.
The next time you’re feeling stressed out, use one—or all!—or these natural ways to get yourself back on track.
1. Drink Decaf Tea
One of the biggest mistakes people make when they’re stressed out is to load up on more caffeine. It might give you an energy boost to get through your to-do list, but it’s not going to do you any favors. Caffeine increases the levels of cortisol in your body—aka the stress hormone—and when your levels are high for a long period of time, it can really mess things up, increasing your risk of everything from anxiety and depression to sleep issues and weight gain. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, stick to something soothing that won’t impact your already-stressed-out body, like like peppermint, chamomile, or my favorite, echinacea—an immune-boosting herb that’s been used for hundreds of years.
2. Get a Diffuser
Getting a diffuser changed my life. OK, OK… maybe it didn’t change my life, but it definitely became an easy way to get some much-needed stress relief. Dropping in some soothing essential oils—especially those that are scientifically-proven to relieve stress, like lavender, bergamot, and jasmine—will drift the calming scents throughout your home, letting you quite literally breathe a sigh of relief as they naturally calm down your nervous system. I’ve been using the aromaOm Ultrasonic Diffuser diffuser from Saje Wellness and the quality is hard to beat. Plus—added bonus!—it’s super pretty and fits right in with home decor.
3. Add Ashwagandha Into Your Smoothie
If you haven’t heard of ashwagandha, it’s about to become your new stress-fighting BFF. The herb has been used since ancient times to do everything from combat stress to strengthen your immune system and boost your energy. And the best part? All you need to do to start reaping the benefits is add some into your morning smoothie, which flawlessly cancels out the somewhat bitter taste. I use Organic Traditions’ Ashwagandha Root Powder, but you can typically find a quality product at your local health food store. Or, if you don’t feel like sneaking it into your food, you can also take it in capsule-form.
4. Meditate Daily
I never realized how important meditation was until I started doing it. Now, I’m honestly mad at myself for how long I waited to start doing it regularly. It’s not some weird, hippie thing—it’s been proven by study after study to help with a wide-range of issues, whether that’s stress and anxiety or high blood pressure and sleep issues. The list goes on and on. All you need is 10 minutes a day of closing your eyes and focusing on your breath to start noticing a difference in the way you feel and even handle situations. (For instance, I don’t get nearly as annoyed about little things when I’m meditating regularly as I do when I’m not.) Don’t worry if you don’t know where to start: I love using the Headspace app or meditation teacher Kait Hurley‘s online program to give my mind a break. If you can’t totally relax, you’re not alone by any means. Your mind is going to wander, but the most important thing is bringing it back to the present—not trying to shut it off.
5. Spend Time in Nature
Getting a regular dose of nature in New York City isn’t easy—at all. As nice as it is walking through Central Park, you can still hear sirens and cars and a billion conversations going on. But even with the outside stressors, getting some greenery in my life always calms me down and makes me feel a billion times better. Studies have shown getting outside and surrounding yourself with plants and trees can lower your cortisol levels, so get away from the TV and get some fresh air—it’ll do more for your well-being than you even realize.
6. Get Regular Massages
Massages aren’t cheap, but they’ve become one of those things I’ll work into my budget just because I know how beneficial they are. Spending an hour getting my muscles rubbed out not only makes me function better physically—especially because I get super tight sitting in front of a computer all day, every day. It also leaves me feeling this renewed sense of energy. It’s like I instantly left all my problems behind me. Try to commit to one massage a month, even if that means having to shift other things you spend money on (like eating out, shopping, or Starbucks) to make room in your finances. It’s much more than a treat—it’s much-needed self-care that will positively impact your life.
7. Move Your Body
While daily exercise is one of the best ways to de-stress, it’s not always possible when your schedule gets super busy. Trust me, I know. The thing I try to remember, though, is there’s time for some sort of physical activity even on the busiest days. That might mean I just spend 20 minutes doing an online workout video or taking Trixie on a longer walk instead of going to the gym. Whatever it is, increasing your heart rate does a lot of good for lowering your stress levels and it’s important to make it a priority one way or another.
8. Get Away from Technology
Like many of you, my life literally revolves around technology. Because of that, I have a love-hate relationship with it. I know it’s important for my career and scrolling through Instagram is always fun, but digital burnout is real and technology can be incredibly destructive. Multiple studies have shown people who spend a lot of time using technology—especially social media in particular—can increase depression and anxiety, not to mention make you feel all sorts of stressed out. So instead of opening and closing your go-to apps all day long, turn off your notifications and limit your use. Also, turn off the phone and TV at a certain time every night to do something screen-free, like read a book. It will energize you like crazy.
What do you to do de-stress? I’d love your tips!