While I love seeing family and hosting Christmas, I find myself needing an insane amount of stress relief immediately after the ball drops on New Year's Eve. There are plenty of ways to get rid of stress, and learning how to manage the tense moments early in the year will help ensure that you have a relaxed, amazing 2016. Which is excellent news, if you ask me — I don't know about you, but as someone who lands on the introvert spectrum, having three major holidays fall within weeks of each other is one of the most stressful parts of my year. Now is the time to unwind.
Know what the hardest parts about stress relief are? Actually setting out a good time where you can be by yourself, and have minimal (if any!) distractions. If you're a workaholic, a parent, or anyone who has uttered the phrase "I don't remember the last time I sat down and read a book" in the past few years, it's definitely important to find a routine that'll give you a little bit of you-time — even if it's only for 15 minutes.
Whether it's trying to de-stress after the busy holidays, or if your stress seems to be a daily occurrence, here are a few tips to ban the tension for good.
Easier said than done, right? Meditation was something I always envisioned doing, but never got around to. The truth is, meditation can be done with limited time — and I'm proof. Before bed the other night, I tried an eight-minute meditation, and felt at peace. Suddenly my mind seemed clearer, kind of like my worries melted away. No surprise, I had an excellent night of sleep right afterward, which is another key component towards stress management.
YouTube has a bunch of great ways to meditate for free, including guided meditation (my ultimate favorite) and soundtracks of relaxing nature sounds.
This year for Christmas, my wishlist was yoga-filled. Even though it's tough to get "in the zone," it's a totally rewarding experience when it happens. Not only is yoga a great way to tone your muscles, but it can help you focus your mind and feel more in-tune with your body. According to an article by Everyday Health, YogaSource Los Gatos founder Linda Schlamadinger McGrath explains that, "On an energetic level, yoga teaches you how to cope better with stress by cultivating a sense of ease in both active or passive poses."
Even better, you don't need much to start — so you can wait to see if you're enjoying the experience before going all-out with fitness bricks and mat carriers.
3. Deep Breathing
Here's a stress reliever that can absolutely be done everywhere and anywhere. Stress.org states that just 20 to 30 minutes of deep breathing can take away stress and anxiety, and is an excellent way to silence your mind for a bit. Also, hey — it's free!
Even though it can sometimes seem a little condescending for someone to say "just take a deep breath" during moments of supreme anxiety, they're technically right. Pumping more oxygen into our bodies can jump-start our relaxation response, otherwise known as "what helps us finally calm down after a panic attack."
4. Music Therapy
When you have a bad day, you might tend to choose music for the commute home that contains a lot of drums and expletives. And believe me, I know it seems like a great way to let it all out. But if you're trying to shut your mind down for a while, consider going someplace quiet, closing your eyes, and listening to something a little more tranquil. For example, this video from Hanz Florentino combines piano and ocean sounds. Mentally, you can pretend you're on a (piano-included) vacation without having to even leave your home.
Music is mighty, mighty powerful. Choose something that doesn't remind you of work (sorry, "Working For The Weekend"), bad boyfriends (my apologies, Taylor Swift), or flaky friends (I'll have to mute you for now, TLC's "What About Your Friends").
5. Full Disconnection
Why did I suddenly become more aware of Facebook after getting a smartphone? Previously, I checked in maybe once a day, but now I feel like I'm aware of everyone's dinner and the Minion-filled memes that are "totally them." My phone has become my go-to tool for what I thought was relaxation, but in all honesty, it makes the problem so much worse. There's also the weird feeling of anxiety if you post something that gets zero recognition on social media. Why do I keep refreshing to see if anyone will hand a "like" my way?
Back in the day, it was universally known that nobody should call you during dinner. After all, that was a precious time to spend together with family. These days, our phones are enjoying the meal with us. While it seems challenging, consider the technology disconnect as a way to ease your stress. Try to remind yourself that nothing is as important as actual experiences.
6. Taking A Bath
If it's been a while since you soaked in a tub, you should consider stocking up on some scented bubbles and essential oils. The Huffington Post reports that using lavender and eucalyptus scents have been proven to reduce stress. Plus, since it's getting a lot colder outside, doesn't a hot bath sound like an absolute dream right now?
Consider amplifying the experience even more by purchasing a bath pillow. Just make sure not to fall asleep in the tub. Get yourself to a level of relaxation where you're still aware that you're surrounded by hot, soapy water.
7. Acupressure Points
If you're in a relationship that includes massages, consider yourself to be extremely lucky. Not only will a solid massage help you chill out, but the additional contact can really make a relationship thrive.
If you really want to "up" the experience, consider having your partner focus on the webbing between your big toe and second toe, and the side of the inside of your foot. According to Modern Reflexology, these are two points that will help relieve overall stress and anxiety. The midsection of your back, right around the spine, is also another great pressure point if you feel a lot of tension in your back. While you're experimenting with this type of therapy, make sure you're in a relaxing environment for the best results. That means that you should probably turn off your television for a while, and focus solely on the touch.
In Yasuko Kawamura's video above, she shows a few very impressive techniques that you can do solo, whenever you have a spare minute. Acupressure, where have you been all my life?
Images: JP Yim/Getty Images; Giphy (5)