In an ideal world life would be free of stress, anxiety, and depression. But we’re human and oftentimes great changes are preceded by thoughts that produce worry, sadness, and -at times- chaos. There are, however, lots of little steps you can take to change your thoughts, calm your mind, and relax your body.
Just for today, observe any thoughts of chaos and make one of these five changes:
1. Laugh. When school, family, or work gets you down, take a quick break, and get silly. Research suggests that laughter can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, so consider checking out a funny meme, quote, YouTube clip, or TV show.
2. Give Thanks. Studies have found expressing gratitude helps reduce anxiety and worry. What are you thankful for today? Whether it's your new job, your relationship, the roof over your head, or this morning’s breakfast, get in the mindset of appreciation. No matter how large or small, start by developing a simple gratitude list when you wake and build on it throughout the day.
3. Get Grounded. Plan a time when you can completely disconnect. Experiment with increments of time that seem doable for you, whether it's two minutes, five minutes, or ten. Stick to one activity - gardening, watching nature, taking a walk, reading, or free writing. Practice being completely in the moment.
4. Smell Something. Light a candle or try sniffing some essential oils. Citrus, lavender, and chamomile are great choices for reducing tension in the body. Need mental clarity? Choose peppermint, rosemary or sage.
5. Reach out. People with social supports tend to react less negatively to stress than those without pals. That might be due to the 'feel good' hormone oxytocin, which is release during socializing. Oxytocin has an anxiety-reducing effect so call a friend, meet for breakfast, or take a walk.
So next time you notice increase stress and worry, sadness or fear, aim to make one small change.
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