Lately, I’ve been thinking about squats. More specifically, I’ve been thinking about stress and squats. (These are the kinds of things “normal” people think about, right? Oh… no? Well, I never put too much stock in being “normal” anyway!) Stress and squats share one common denominator: it’s not just the load that you carry that matters, it’s also the way that you carry it that matters as well.
In short, a person can squat 200 lbs with ease with good form, but if that same person tries to squat 200 lbs when their form is unbalanced— it’s a recipe for disaster! Likewise, if you’re handling stress with bad form, living life in an unbalanced way, you’re much more liable to topple over.
Even though this is a clean eating, physical fitness, and personal empowerment blog, in light of the recent stress in my life that’s been heaped like a smorgasbord onto my plate… I thought this was an important issue to address! We all know that stress can (and will!) impact your health, so before it does— here are my top 6 stress-busting suggestions!
1. Work it out
Come on… y’all knew this was going to be numero uno, right? How long have you been following my blog now? Studies show that people who exercise regularly are 25% less likely to develop depression and/or anxiety within the next 5 years. But that’s just one study; there are a myriad of others touting the stress relieving benefits of exercise. So the next time you’re stressed, stop wallowing and start moving. It doesn’t need to be much, either. Studies also show that a 10 minute walk has the exact same stress relieving benefits as a 45 minute workout (although, uh, personally… throwing around some heavy weights always helps me de-stress exponentially!)
2. Color your stress away
Some days, you just don’t want to adult. Well, I got news for you… it’s okay to take a kid break. One of the hottest crazes nowadays is adult coloring books. Psychologist Carl Jung introduced mandalas (intricate concentric circular design patterns) as a relaxation technique in the early 20th century, and the stress relief method is currently experiencing a huge revival. In short, coloring has one simple psychological benefit: when we focus on coloring, we aren’t focusing on our stresses, worries, or problems. Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, grab a coloring book for grown-ups, and color your stress away!
3. Delve into a book
In search of a stress relief method that’s a little more… intellectual? Well, grab a book. Sometimes real life problems can be a little too overwhelming, and, while you can’t escape real life permanently, you can escape real life temporarily. Delve into another world by reading a book! Studies show that reading reduces stress by as much as 68% in only 6 minutes. 6 minutes! For me, personally, I almost always opt for a fantasy book— the more outlandish, the better— because, really, if I’m trying to take my mind off of my everyday problems, the last thing I want to do is read about someone else’s everyday problems!
4. Spa it up
I’m an advocate of regular spa days: saunas, scrubs, massages, everything. There’s a reason it’s called massage therapy, and the effects aren’t just physical— they are psychological too! Unfortunately, not everyone can afford a day at the spa every time stress strikes (and, come on, what if your stress is financial-related? that ain’t gonna help!). The next best thing? Treat yourself to an at home spa day: take a 20 minute hot bubble bath, pop an effervescent shower fizzy in during your next rinse, or treat yourself to a do-it-yourself salt scrub. Another option: gyms often have saunas available for gym members to use, so if yours does… don’t be afraid to grab a relaxing steam to unwind!
5. Help others
One of my favorite ways to relieve stress? Help others! Often there’s nothing we can do to fix our own problems, but that doesn’t mean we should simply fall into despair. Sometimes a better approach is to turn our focus outward, and instead do something to help those around us. Even if we can’t make our own lives better, we can make someone else’s life better— which, in turn, can really uplift you. It’s a win-win. This is one of the many reasons that I support awesome causes such as ReliGym, an amazing nonprofit organization that aims to provide underprivileged youth with much needed fitness resources (want to support our cause? get your ReliGym gear at www.ReliGym.org!)
6. Escape to nature
One of my favorite authors— Henry David Thoreau— once wrote: “I took a walk in the woods and I came out taller than the trees.” The restorative effects of nature simply cannot be denied; there is nothing better than surrounding yourself with nature… bright green fields of grass, the solace of towering trees, the tones of chirping birds, everything. Whether life’s stress seems inescapable, your best bet is to escape into nature. No doubt, you’ll return feeling refreshed, revitalized, and reinvigorated.