Well hello there! I’m so excited that today we are going to hear from the amazing Jenn Baxter of Live a F.a.s.t. Life. Jenn is passionate about living a stress-free, healthy and abundant life so let’s jump right in to her tips for de-stressing naturally.
These days, ask someone how they are doing and I bet you, nine times out of ten, they will respond “busy.” That’s because busyness has become almost a badge of honor. We load up our plates with work, social commitments, activities for the kids, commitments at church, chores, errands and if there’s any time left… maybe eating and sleeping, and then whenever anyone asks us how we are, we can tell them just how busy we are.
Because think of the alternative… if someone asked us what we’ve been up to and we said, “Oh, not much. Just been resting, reading and spending some quality times outdoors.” They would look at us like we have 3 heads or in their minds, be thinking, “Slacker.”
Except, what if that made you the smart one? What if you had it all right and everyone else has it all wrong? Life isn’t meant to be a race where the person who runs themselves the most ragged and ends up with the most stuff wins.
We need to rest and rejuvenate on a regular basis. Because if we don’t, our bodies will pay the price. Stress can cause all types of different physical conditions from headaches and digestive issues to more serious conditions like heart disease and cancer.
So, why take the risk?
Make de-stressing a priority in your life and incorporate it at some point into every day. Yes, I said every day. I know… you’re thinking, but I already don’t have enough time in a day! Well, I promise you, if you have 15 minutes to surf Facebook or an hour to watch a show on Netflix, then you have time to de-stress.
It’s just a matter of changing your mindset and your priorities.
So, how DO you de-stress? Here are six of my favorite ways to de-stress, decompress and re-boot my body and mind. And the best part of all, is they are all natural. No magic pills here.
1. Use lists and Calendars
Ok, this first one is more of a practical lifestyle tip, as opposed to an actual form of therapy. But it is a great way to keep stress from occurring (or at least minimize it) in the first place. One of the most common causes of stress is disorganization. Not knowing what you need to get done or where you’re supposed to be leads to feelings of panic and disorientation. Ever stood in the middle of Target and wondered what in the world you were there for? Or agreed to a work dinner only to realize later that you already RSVP’d for a birthday party that same night?
We’ve all done it. A few hundred times or so. With so much going on all the time, it’s hard to depend on our brains to keep it all straight. So give your brain a break and write it down! If you are more of an electronic-minded person, then use your phone, tablet or computer. But whether you use a device or old fashioned pen and paper, the point is to give your brain a place to “dump.”
I personally use several methods to keep myself organized and on-track. I have an electronic calendar that syncs between my computer and my phone. And I also have a dry-erase calendar on my wall that is strictly for work commitments. Every single event that I agree to, call that I have to make, person that I need to visit or place I need to go, goes on the calendar. That way, I can never be caught wondering if I am busy when someone asks about a certain date or end up in the uncomfortable spot of being double-booked.
And then there are the lists. Oh, how I love lists. Although I will still take a good ol’ paper list when I go to the grocery store or on a Target run, I also utilize the notepad app on my phone when ideas hit me on the run. If a topic for a blog posts pops into my mind or I suddenly remember something I am out of at home, I immediately “dump” my brain onto the notepad app and save it for later. This way, I don’t have to worry about the guaranteed fact that I will forget said important thought approximately five minutes later.
I also do the same thing with a notepad next to my bed. Since our brains love to process everything when we’re trying to fall asleep, it’s the perfect time to “dump” your brain onto paper, so it feels freed up to go to sleep. I use this notepad that has a light built-in, so you don’t even have to turn on a lamp!
I also utilize the electronic note-taking app, Evernote, to keep track of all types of things – blog topics and posts, recipes, party planning, even all the business cards I collect. The app also synchs between your phone and your laptop, so there’s no need to duplicate it manually.
All of these efforts keep me organized, but more importantly, they keep me sane. And prevent me from being stressed.
So, you may be thinking, what if I’m already stressed? Well, here’s where the other five come in…
Meditating might seem like some ancient mystical practice that you are incapable of doing, but in actuality, meditation is just about quieting your mind. Our brains are constantly overloaded and over-stimulated all day long, so it’s important that we give them time to rest, just like our bodies. And that doesn’t mean waiting until bedtime. (Hello, insomnia) Taking time to intentionally quiet your thoughts during the day, allows your mind to relax and rejuvenate. Whether you listen to relaxing music, prefer complete silence or follow along with a guided meditation, meditation can also allow you to release pent-up emotions like grief, resentment or anger. If the thought of meditation intimidates you, start out with a guided meditation on tape or DVD and begin with just 10 or 15 minutes. You can move up to a longer period of time or drop the guidance once you are more comfortable.
3. use affirmations
I’ll admit it. When I first started using affirmations, I thought they were a bunch of hullabaloo. I’ve never been able to “schmooze” people, including myself, so when I tried to tell myself these wonderful positive things that weren’t true (yet)… I called BS. But, over time, my opinion of them actually changed. I’m sure you’ve heard of “fake it til you make it”? Well, affirmations basically work on the same principle. You may not believe what you’re saying at first, but keep doing it, and eventually you will.
Because think about the alternative. You can probably sit and ruminate on negative thoughts all day – “I’ll never get married,” “I’ll never have enough money,” “I’ll never get out of this job”… and you believe them, right? But they’re not necessarily true either. They just seem to be easier to believe. So why not start talking to yourself in positive statements… “I will get married and I look forward to being a great spouse” or “I have great sales & marketing skills, any agency would be lucky to have me.” Because once your thoughts change, your feelings will change too. And once you start believing you can achieve your dreams, you will.
4. Stretch and breathe.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit. When it comes to me and yoga, it’s more about me wearing the stretchy pants to the store, than me actually doing the downward dog. But, I know there is a lot of value in doing yoga because it is all about breathing and stretching – two things that my body loves. And I bet yours does too. Don’t believe me? Try twisting your body to each side in the mornings as soon as you wake up, stretching as far as you possibly can. Your body will practically let out a deep sigh, it feels so good. Or the next time you’re at a traffic light or feeling frustrated with a co-worker, take a moment to sit up straight, back against your chair or car seat and close your eyes (not if you’re driving, obviously). Then place one hand on your belly and one on your chest. Take a deep breath in, pushing your belly out and keeping your chest flat (it should inflate like a balloon), then hold it for 3 to 4 seconds and release, pushing the air out through your mouth, again with your stomach moving and not your chest. You’ll feel like someone just gave you a big hit on an oxygen tank! That’s because this is how we should be breathing all along!
5. tapping and grounding
You probably have never heard of either of these natural therapies, but speaking from experience, they both are amazing ways to manage stress. Tapping (also called emotional freedom technique or EFT), which is similar to acupuncture, involves a series of tapping motions on the body’s meridian points. This helps to release pent-up energy and has a calming effect on your body. There are plenty of websites that teach you how to tap, like www.thetappingsolution.com or www.eft.mercola.com, or you can go to a practitioner who specializes in EFT like a neuromuscular therapist. Grounding (also called “earthing”) is based on the simple idea that we receive a natural boost of energy from the ground. You can tap into this natural energy source at any time simply by spending time with your bare feet on the ground or by using an earthing or grounding mat, like those sold on www.earthing.com.
6. have fun!
Want to know what the best remedy for stress is? Fun! So many people these days are too serious and forget to make some time to have fun in their lives! And it’s amazing what a big effect a little silliness can have. What activities are still on your bucket list that you’ve always wanted to do? Learn an instrument? Take a course? Don’t wait to do these things… make room on your schedule and in your budget, for them to happen NOW. That way, even in the midst of stressful times, there is always something on the calendar for you to look forward to!
Want more tips on how to de-stress and get more out of life? Grab Jenn’s FREE 5-part “Jump Start Guide” right here for tons of information on emotional health and “bucket list living”, PLUS de-cluttering, downsizing, clean eating and non-toxic products!
Jenn Baxter is an accomplished writer in Charlotte, NC, who has been published in numerous print publications, as well as featured as a columnist on Beliefnet.com. In 2015, she launched her website, Live a F.a.s.t. Life, based on her own experiences with clean living, emotional health and downsizing into a 160 sq. ft. tiny house, and released her first book, “Tiny Abundance: My Journey to a Simple, Yet Fabulously Abundant Life in 160 Square Feet,” which is available on her website and Amazon.com. She also helps others learn to clean up their homes, their bodies and their lives in her e-course collection,
“De-Clutter, De-Tox, De-Stress.”