If you’ve been, well, a person on this earth over the past few weeks, you may be a little bit stressed out by what’s going on in the world.
I know I am.
I feel we could all use some helpful tips and suggestions on how to relax and unwind this week. So I’ve put together some proven tips and tricks to lower your stress this week or whenever you may need it.
Healthy Ways to Destress
1. Eat a Filling Snack
We’ve all been snacking a lot this week, but my first tip on to help you destress is to snack smarter.
When you’re stressed, your body produces cortisol which can drop your blood sugar levels. Therefore, choosing filling snacks is key for fighting off stress from the inside out.
While it’s tempting to reach for candy when you’re feeling like this, doctors say that simple carbs are a mere quick fix and you’d be better off with something more satiating. (Think protein + fat + fiber!)
2. Breathe Deeply
I know, you’ve heard this advice before on lists of ways to destress. But that’s because it works.
Breathing exercises can help relieve stress and reduce the tension in your entire body. They can decrease your heart rate and blood pressure, too.
There are a number of breathing exercises out there; I personally like this list of 10 Breathing Exercises for variety’s sake.
We’ve written at length about the benefits of meditation for college students, so we won’t reiterate all of that here. But if you haven’t tried meditation as a way to de-stress, now is the time to get started.
Just starting out with meditation? There is a site called 5 Minute Meditation that can help you meditate for a few minutes of your day. No pressure!
Our phones are among the biggest stressors out there, especially these days, when it seems like they’re constantly updating us with even more bad news.
Sometimes it’s good to just set your phone down and step away for a while.
If you, like most of us, use your phone as your main form of communication, you can just take breaks — set your phone in another room and not look at if for a little while. See how long you can go without checking and build from there. (You can even use Do not Disturb mode so only your most important contacts can get through.)
It’s also a lot easier to relax when you’re not checking your phone every five minutes, and being phone-free gets easier with time.
If you’ve been feeling bad or “off” lately, I really encourage you to do some exercise. We all know exercise prompts the release of endorphins, mood-boosting chemicals. But even better, exercise is free and you can do it anywhere!
I don’t have to explain all the benefits of exercise to you, but if you want a few, here you go: Exercising is a way to de-stress, and it can protect against heart disease by lowering your blood pressure. Not to mention it strengthens your heart muscle, and can help you maintain a healthy weight.
Anything that gets your heart rate up for a prolonged period counts as exercise, so do what you love!
6. Try a 10 Minute Walk or Run
Like I said, exercise is free, and fresh air is great when you’ve been cooped up inside for too long!
Going for a walk can help you clear your head and boost your endorphins, therefore lowering stress. It can also be meditative if you walk through nature.
However, if going outside isn’t feasible where you are, see my next tip:
7. Do an exercise video
There are so many free exercise videos available online right now, so take advantage!
I love fun Youtube dance videos like the one above, but there are tons of options out there!
Blogilates is super popular among CF readers, while the company Peloton is currently offering a free exercise video app subscription (you don’t need the bike to do the videos) for 90 days! (Note: Peloton does charge once the 90 days are up so be sure to cancel if you don’t want to be billed.)
Need more ideas? See this list of the best workout apps and fitness videos for when you’re stuck at home.
8. Organize and Declutter
Decluttering helps clear your space/environment and therefore clears your mind. Organizing gives everything a home and helps keep messes at bay. Basically, if your space is organized and well maintained, it will be easier to keep your thoughts that way.
We have a ton of posts on organizing, such as Ten Tips to Help You Declutter and Ten Ways to Organize Your Room. I will say though that you should always declutter before organizing, that way you’re only organizing the things you’re keeping.
9. Put On Some Music
Music is a great mood booster, and it can be a game changer when you’re stuck indoors. Listening to songs you enjoy can help release dopamine, a feel-good neurochemical. Plus, dancing to music is just fun — it’s one of my favorite ways to destress.
I’m also a firm believer that music makes anything more enjoyable, even washing dishes isn’t too bad with a good song on in the background.
10. Take Care of a Plant
Plants can clean the air, plus just looking at greenery can help reduce your stress and anxiety. If you don’t already own some plants, chamomile, jasmine, lavender, marjoram, and skullcap are particularly good for relieving anxiety.
We also have a list of The Best Plants for Dorms if you’re looking to add some greenery to your college space.
11. Talk with Your Friends
Spending time with your best friend can help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Although you can’t physically visit your friends right now, you can video chat or call them. And you should do this, often!
Watch a TV show at the same time, have a Facetime girls night, or just call up a pal while you’re cooking dinner or having coffee. It’s important to stay in touch right now, not only for stress relief, but for general wellbeing.
12. Chew a Piece of Gum
A simple one, but it works. Chewing gum can reduce stress hormones. So if you find yourself wanting to pop in a piece of mint or bubblegum when you’re feeling overwhelmed, you might as well. (If you chew a gum with Xylitol, like Trident, you’ll also be helping reduce tooth bacteria!)
A 2008 study even found that chewing gum can decrease anxiety and improve alertness while multitasking. It’s worth it to stock up on gum right now.
13. Watch or Listen to Something Funny
Laughter has been proven to decrease stress hormones. So seek out whatever makes you laugh. It’s one of the best ways to destress.
Whether you’re watching an old Vine compilation, listening to your favorite comedian, checking out a Netflix comedy special, or watching some cat videos; anything goes. This is a surefire way to reduce some of your stress.
I will never stop talking about the positive effects of journaling!
I find that journaling is the best way for me to go through my thoughts when they seem overwhelming. Writing them out can help me find the root of the problem or stressor and better handle it in the future.
15. Do Something Creative
There are so many ways to express yourself through a creative outlet. We even have a List of Hobbies That Can Boost Your Creativity.
Doing something you enjoy like baking, painting, or writing can take you away from your stress and distract you from everything for a while. Also, many creative hobbies give you a tangible reward at the end for your efforts. That is definitely a win-win.
How do you destress?
What are some of the ways you destress? What’s your go-to way to relax?