Learning how to manage stress is vital for your well-being. It also helps to avoid burnout and to create sustainable success in your work and in your personal life.
However, stress is pervasive amongst busy professionals who are plugged in and connected to their work 24/7. One recent study showed that about one-third of Americans reported physical and emotional symptoms of stress, including headaches (34 percent) or feeling anxious (33 percent). Another report concluded that 40% of working moms “always feel rushed” in their day-to-day lives.
Short-term stress can actually have a positive impact, like increasing motivation and making us more action-oriented, but chronic stress has major downsides to our health. It can lead to sleep troubles, headaches and an increased risk of heart disease.
Try incorporating some of these activities into your life, and see instantly how your mood improves.
1. Create a morning journaling ritual
Many studies show that journaling can help reduce stress, as well as symptoms of anxiety and depression. Writing down your thoughts helps you to think more clearly and also to process your emotions. Grab a fun new journal like this one and dig in tomorrow morning.
2. Practice meditation
By now, you’ve probably heard that meditation can lower your stress. But did you know that just a few minutes of practice can do the trick? If you’re not sure where to start and the thought of sitting alone in silence sounds impossible, try starting with a guided meditation to help you focus. Jump right in with a free Mindfulness Based Achievement 30 Day Meditation Challenge to receive a daily email with a five-minute guided meditation.
3. Get outside and take a “forest bath”
Spending time in nature has an incredible calming effect and has been linked to lower stress levels. "Forest bathing," an activity where you intentionally indulge in the sights, smells and sounds of nature, is an easy way to de-stress. All it requires is you visiting a park or going on a hike.
Dive into inspirational books like "The Big Leap" by Gay Hendricks "The Untethered Soul" by Michael A. Singer or "Wishes Fulfilled: Mastering the Art of Manifesting" by Wayne Dyer and experience some peace of mind. According to a study from the University of Sussex, even just six minutes of reading can reduce stress by two-thirds. So make some time to read a few pages each day.
5. Listen to music
Listening to music lowers stress, but certain songs are more potent in their stress-reducing abilities. According to Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson of Mindlab International, listening to "Weightless" by Marconi Union resulted in a 65 percent reduction in participants' overall anxiety levels, making it one of the most relaxing songs out there. And best of all, the song is only eight minutes long, making it easy to sneak it into your jam-packed schedule!
6. Help others
Volunteering has a positive effect on your well-being and also resets your inner clock, making you feel like you have more time in your day. It sounds counterintuitive, but if you spend time helping others and objectively have less time for yourself because of it, you will still feel like you have more time in your day. This feeling of not being so rushed helps lower your stress, so don't hesitate to lend a helping hand.
7. Practice yoga
Lastly, visit your local yoga studio and sign up for a class. Any type of yoga practice can reduce stress, but yin yoga and restorative yoga are especially calming. Don’t have time to get to a studio? Try out Yoga Glo to practice in the comfort of your own home.
Studies have shown that it takes 21 days to build a habit. Start reducing your stress by choosing one of these activities and sticking with it until it becomes second nature. Your mind and body will thank you in the long run.
Lisa Abramson is an entrepreneur, TEDx speaker and bestselling author of "The Wise Mama Guide to Maternity Leave." She is the founder of Wise Mama and the co-founder of Mindfulness Based Achievement, which teaches high potential women leaders how to create sustainable success.