We all have those weeks. You know, the ones where you think it’s going to be pleasantly busy but totally manageable, and then Monday morning rolls around and… just kidding! The universe has other plans.
You’re hit with unexpected projects, requests and to-dos that start piling up faster than you can say eeeeeeek.
I had such a week recently. If it weren’t for the following 5 practices, I would have been a crazy mess. Instead, I was able to stay grounded, mostly relaxed, and keep my stress levels from running me ragged.
The next time stress threatens to bulldoze you over I suggest you try the following.
1. Meditate, preferably first thing in the morning.
Meditation has been scientifically proven to reduce stress and increase your health and happiness (check out this fun meditation infographic). If you only do one thing from this list, make it this one. Before you check your phone or email, get sucked into social media, or dive into projects, give yourself a stress-busting gift: 10–30 minutes of quiet time to center, ground yourself, and just breathe. Do this regularly and I guarantee you’ll start looking forward to it.
2. Write everything down.
According to David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, “Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” Give your brain a break! Get your to-dos out of your head and onto paper. Make a list of everything swirling around up there so you can see what you’re really up against. Map out your priorities, what can wait till later, and what can be removed entirely. You’ll feel more in control once you have a clearer picture and a plan in place.
3. Keep your daily to-do list super short.
You will always have more to do than time to do it in. Stress and overwhelm settle in when you don’t feel like you’re making any progress on that to-do list that’s 5 pages long and constantly growing. My advice? Don’t work from your master list. Work from a daily list. Put your absolute top 3–5 priorities for the day on a post-it note. Check those suckers off one by one as you complete them and revel in the glory of your productive day.
4. Take a dance break!
When you’ve got a million things to do, it’s easy to let yourself fall into super-serious mode. Yes, you have responsibilities, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun while you get things done. Lighten up. Give your body and mind a boost of mood-enhancing endorphins. Get off your desk-bound bum and dance for the duration of one of your favorite songs. Do it daily or whenever you need to recharge. (If you want something sassy that you can sashay to, may I recommend Welcome to Burlesque? It’s my song of choice lately.)
5. Get out in nature…or take a shower.
Why? To huff some stress-relieving negative ions.
According to WebMD, “Negative ions are odorless, tasteless, and invisible molecules that we inhale in abundance in certain environments. Think mountains, waterfalls, and beaches.” Negative ions help create positive vibes by increasing our serotonin levels, which helps to relieve stress and boost our energy. Luckily, the same negative ions found in nature are also created by the running water in your shower. So next time you feel stressed, go for a quick hike or simply rinse off.
Fending off stress can be free, simple and fun, if you know what steps to take.
The next time life throws you a crazy busy week, give these 5 practices a try. Your body, mind, mood, and to-do list will thank you.