It’s been a crazy stressful week over at BTDS, the kind that mentally overwhelms to the point of physically not being able to keep moving. I’ve gotten pretty good at knowing my limits and breaking points, but when the world hits you with unexpected turbulence there’s not much you can do to stop it from happening – but you always have the choice of how to react and make it better for yourself.
As creative entrepreneurs and small business owners, we know stress intimately. We wake up with it, breathe it in, let it curl up on our chests, and take it to bed at the end of each day. Stress is a necessary part of being responsible for your own destiny. We chose the road less traveled because we wanted the freedom of self-determination, the luxury of making our own schedules and working for ourselves, but that freedom comes with a stress-tastic price tag.
Stress has been linked to illnesses such as heart disease, asthma, diabetes, IBS, depression, and even alzheimer’s disease. In my own experience it’s usually what’s behind me feeling crummy, nauseous, depressed, or anxious. This is why being able to manage our stress properly is unbelievably important to the well-being of both our companies and ourselves.
So in the interest of helping alleviate even the smallest portion of your stress, here are 6 things you can do right now to reduce your stress level.
This one might seem obvious, but after studying yoga for the last few years I’ve come to really believe in the power that your breathing has over your whole body. Breathing slowly and mindfully has an actual chemical impact on the way your body responds to stress. By pausing even for just one breath, clearing your mind, and telling yourself that you are fine, you can calm your body’s fight-or-flight stress response to whatever is bothering you, even if you don’t know what that is.
As Elle Woods once said, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands.” Endorphins are literally hormones that fight stress. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, you want these guys on your side! Go for a run, hit the gym, do some yoga at home, or try one of these awesome workout videos from Tone It Up that are sure to make you sweat. Research shows the effects of exercising can reduce your stress level for several hours after the activity.
Chatting with someone you love and trust about what’s bothering you can help relieve the burden of stress, and help you feel connected to others and validated in your feelings. Even if you don’t talk about your issues, it can help just to have that connection and escape from being inside of your own head for a bit. If you can’t call your mom, a best friend will certainly do! Share the love and let them relieve some of their stress too :)
Research has shown pretty undeniably that spending time outdoors in our natural element, even for just five minutes, has a huge impact on reducing our stress levels. Get up from your desk right now and go outside – go get a coffee, take a little walk, sit on a bench somewhere, or move the rest of your work day to your patio or backyard – just be outdoors! Even if the weather is crappy, you’ll still feel better.
When you are done working today, turn off your phone, computer, tablet, and any other connected devices and take the night off. Don’t check your emails, texts, or social media feeds. Just spend time with yourself (maybe doing some of the above suggestions) and see how freeing not being at the whole world’s constant beck and call can feel. I promise if you try it once you’ll get addicted to the feeling. If you have friends that might get freaked out if you don’t answer, maybe just give them a head’s up that you will be OOO this evening!
No explanation needed! Corgis always make your day better.
Please comment with any tried and true tips you have for relieving stress that we can try right now!