Fall is upon us, and although we can finally look forward to cooling temperatures after a long, hot summer, we also look towards an increase in seasonal obligations. Fall brings back to school, which can be a busier time for many families, and just around the corner comes the holidays, when shopping, parties, and events can cause stress and worry.
Now is the time to be thinking about slowing down and taking time for yourself during the busiest time of year. Self care takes many forms, from a quick time out to a longer reprieve from busyness, but one thing is constant. Self care and relaxation are paramount to keeping your sanity and thriving when the going gets tough. With nearly half of all adults reporting they have experienced an increase in stress in the past year, there is no time like the present to take charge of your health.
Here are six ways you can practice self care when you feel the pinch of anxiety coming on.
Call Your Mother
When the going gets tough, the tough…call mom? It’s true! Several studies have shown that the sound of a loved one’s voice can be one of the most soothing and comforting factors in calming a frazzled brain. In fact, in one landmark study, ongoing at Northwestern University in Chicago, researchers are testing just how powerful a loved one’s voice can be, as they test whether a familiar and beloved voice alone can get through to a patient in a coma. While research is ongoing, it is clear that calling someone we love, be it a trusted friend or mom herself, has an immediate and powerful calming response.
I Like to Move It, Move It
Sometimes the best way to beat stress and get on the path to Zen is through movement alone. Good old physical activity is the number one recommended stress-buster for physicians, and it is easy to see why. Even light exercise like walking or restorative yoga causes the body to produce endorphins that act as natural painkillers, which not only boost your spirits during the day, but also lead to a more restful sleep. So next time you’re overwhelmed, try a short walk around the block, or turn on the radio and shake it out to a favorite tune. A little movement will have you well on your way to feeling calmer.
Make a List
When you have twenty-five things going on at once and it’s already afternoon, the last thing you might think of is to stop and evaluate, but research has shown that the act of making a list and putting your priorities on paper can relieve stress and calm your nerves. Psychology Today reports that list making can help us to prioritize and make sense of an otherwise information-loaded situation, as well as help us to separate the busy work from what really matters. The simple act of making a list can take us from frazzled to calm in mere minutes. The next time you’re feeling the overwhelm of a bust schedule, try taking a moment to write it out.
Bake A Cake
Yes, you heard us right. No, we are not advocating that you eat your feelings, but we are suggesting that you might lace up your apron and hit the kitchen for a little baking time. Ask any home cook and they will tell you there’s something meditative about whisking up a cake or cookies, but there’s actually science behind it too! You see, baking is a creative endeavor, and according to a study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, people who often take on small, creative projects report better life satisfaction and less stress in their daily lives. So, while baking might not solve the world’s problems, it will leave you feeling a little more centered and relaxed.
Unplug and Read a Book
In today’s busy world, we are all constantly connected to an electronic device in one way or another, and the constant barrage of information can cause a feeling of unease and overwhelm. One of the best ways to combat information overload is to unplug for a little while and open up a good old fashioned book. You might be thinking, who has time to read with my busy schedule, but new research shows that even as little as six minutes of reading can be enough to lower stress levels by as much as 68%. It is thought that because we have to focus in order to read, which leads us into the distraction of falling into a literary world, our bodies automatically relax, easing tension in the heart and muscles in as little as six minutes. So, lock yourself away from distraction and get invested in a good book to melt away stress and bring on clarity.
Get a Massage
Our favorite way to beat stress and bring on the calm is, of course, massage. With hundreds of types of massage, from hot stone to Swedish, there’s a massage therapy for everybody, and studies show that massage therapy is not only beneficial in reducing physical pain and improving sleep quality, but also for fighting stress and bettering your mood. A good massage can not only relax your muscles, but also lower blood pressure and heart rate, and increase the production of endorphins, which just make you feel good. As little as half an hour on the table can right your mood and get you ready to face the world again.
So, the next time you’re feeling the anxiety of the season, book a healing massage with Willow Massage & Spa, and in the meantime, try a few of the tips above to calm your mind and bring on relaxation.