Happy New Year! We’ve made it to 2022! This year it’s time for you to take control of your stress.
How do you do that?
Through tiny victories.
Tiny victories are the things that help us get from point A to point B. They’re also the things that will help you manage your stress before your stress manages you. When we’re stressed, we often don’t take care of ourselves in the way that we should. The key is to make your changes fun, exciting, something that you look forward to doing.
Read on for 8 ideas on how to minimize stress though tiny habits.
Remember Your Dreams
Sometimes when you’re going through a difficult situation your subconscious works through it while you sleep. Your dreams can sometimes have clues that hold the key to figuring out the right solution. A good habit to have is to write down what you remember of your dreams when you first wake up.
Keep a journal by your bedside, write what you remember and what you think it means. Later you can review your dream journal and see if your interpretations still stand.
Water is one of the most important things on the planet. I’d go so far as to say that water = life. Because water is essential to our well-being, it’s important to maintain hydration. If you don’t like drinking plain water, try the following to make it more interesting:
Flavor your water with fruit
Invest in a cool water bottle that has time stamping or encouraging statements
Make a game out of drinking water – use a habit tracker to mark how much you’ve drunk and try to beat your best day.
Set reminders on your phone, clock or calendar to drink water
Your breath is your life, yet many of us don’t breathe deeply enough. Much like water, oxygen is vital to our well-being. Here’s an easy exercise based on counts of four to help you increase your deep breathing capabilities:
Inhale while you slowly count to four, once you reach - hold your breath for a count of four, and then slowly exhale to another count of four.
You can use your new deep breathing skills for a variety of situations – to calm down in situations such as a job interview, to relax before going to sleep or to energize yourself after a hectic day at work.
Move It Or Lose It
We’re designed to move. A sedentary lifestyle is a recipe for a ton of diseases and conditions such as heart disease, obesity and high blood pressure.
If you’re just starting out with exercise, don’t try to do too much too soon. Slow and steady wins the race. Try doing a minimum of 20 minutes of exercise 3 days a week and build from there. Try for a mixture of cardio and strength training exercises, but make sure that whatever you do is something that you enjoy. Don’t be afraid to experiment with exercises like Zumba or Tai Chi. Your body will thank you later 😊. Of course, be sure to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
Meditation & Mindfulness
Just as moving your body is important, calming the mind is vital tool. Meditation helps you to become at peace with yourself (great for stress management) and with the world around you. It helps you to know yourself.
If you’re new to meditation, it can be difficult to get into the practice. So, I suggest starting small. Aim for 5 minutes a day and work your way up to 20. Meditation is not about just completely emptying your mind and having no thoughts at all, it’s about being at peace with the thoughts that you do have. If you find your thoughts wandering, place them back on what you are focusing on during your session.
When you meditate, you can either focus on a particular thought or word, commonly called a mantra like inner peace or you can focus on an object such as a candle flame. If you find doing this too difficult, consider guided meditation where you listen to a scenario and visualize it in your mind.
Mindfulness is closely related to meditation. It is about being able to maintain focus. Be in the here and now with whatever it is that you do. And be intentional with what it is that you do. One way of cultivating a mindfulness practice is through gratitude. Focus on how you’re feeling in the moment and how you feel about those things and people that you are grateful for.
You can start your day off mindfully by creating a morning routine. If you have tea or coffee with your breakfast, don’t just drink it, savor it – how it tastes, how it smells, how it feels going down and how it makes you feel.
Make Time For Fun
Even though we have to socially distance because of Covid-19 and its variants, doesn’t mean that you can’t still have fun and remain connected with your loved ones. Phone calls, e-mails, texts messages, apps like WhatsApp, facetime, snail mail and Zoom are all ways of staying in touch. Let your loved ones know that they’re loved.
Consider taking a tech disconnect. At minimum, a few hours a week you should take a break from phones, e-mail, social media, video games and television.
What can you do instead?
Play board games, have a dance party, meditate, try a new recipe, practice a new hobby, read a book, go for a walk, take a bubble bath, take a nap – whatever you do make sure that it’s something that you enjoy. And do it as often as you can.
Create An Evening Routine
As you wind down from a busy day, having an evening routine makes it easier to signal to your body and mind that it’s time to rest.
Whatever feels right to you should be part of your evening routine as we each experience stress uniquely and our methods of managing stress vary.
Your evening routine can consist of things such as journaling about your day, reading, taking an evening bath or shower, meditating, prayer or deep breathing – whatever helps you to relax.
So, there you have it, simple things that you can do as part of your stress management practice. The tiny steps listed in this post will go a long way towards helping you stress less. It’s all about Making Time.
Let’s talk. What tiny step(s) do you plan to take to manage your stress? Let me know in the comments section.
Cassandra Martin-Himmons is a facilitator, stress management coach and author of “Yes I’m Grateful,” a gratitude journal. She believes in empowering her clients to help them manage their stress and increase self-care. In her spare time, she enjoys papercrafting, volunteering and travel. Connect with her on Instagram or LinkedIn