If there’s one thing I know about stress, it’s that anxiety ain’t pretty. Stress and exhaustion often go hand-in-hand, leading to lengthy days at work and longer, sleepless nights. Pimples pop up and under-eye circles surface; your hair starts falling out in clumps. Spontaneous meltdowns ensue (and it’s not even that time of the month).
What’s a girl to do?
The next time you find yourself drowning under the pressure of school, work and family life, remind yourself that anxiety is a fleeting, though powerful, feeling. In the moment, stress can feel life-or-death. But, I promise, it never is! Relief is always just around the corner, and the sooner you figure that one out, the happier you’ll be.
Conquer stress with these 10-minute stress busters! Give it a shot: you only have your anxiety to lose.
1. Get your heart pumping.
It should come as no surprise by now that exercise leads not only a healthier heart, but a calmer mind as well. According to the Mayo Clinic, working out helps curb stress in three main ways. First, physical activity boosts the brain’s production of endorphins, the body’s natural “feel-good” chemicals, which translate to increased happiness. Second, exercise is “meditation in motion”: by focusing on a single, bodily task, you’re able to silence counterproductive thoughts and evaluate the cause of your anxiety with greater clarity. Last, working out improves your mood. Simple enough, right? Even when you’re feeling exceptionally stressed, get up and get moving!
2. Make time to laugh.
Heed the results of this study, which found that the presence of a best friend during times of stress leads to heightened happiness and self-worth. I can certainly vouch for this tip. As a textbook Type A personality, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made was living with three of my closest friends in my last year of university. During finals, their constant camaraderie kept me going. Call your bestie in the middle of a hectic day and chat about last week’s episode New Girl. You’re bound to laugh – and you’ll feel a whole lot better going back to the grind.
3. Pump up the beats.
Think about the last time you were listening to the radio, barely paying attention to the DJ, when a song you really, really love suddenly began to play. I’ll bet you stopped what you were doing to turn up the volume. Our response to music is entirely innate, and signals the stress-busting quality of sound. Research has shown that music not only plays a vital role in relieving anxiety, but also helps improve learning and memory, as significant similarities exist between the brain’s processing of music and new information. Blast your favourite song to decrease stress and muffle the sound of negative thoughts. And, hey, it can’t hurt to dance a little! (Who runs the world? Girls!)
4. Explore your creative side.
Art therapy is a real thing, people! Now, I’m not suggesting that everyone pull out an easel and oil paints when times get tough, but taking a short break to complete a craft or creative project is an incredibly rewarding and undervalued means of stress management. To make all-nighters in college more bearable, my friends and I would take 10-minute mani breaks at 4 a.m. It may sound silly, but turning our brains off for a short period of time led to a serious surge of productivity once we returned to our papers. Find your artistic niche and get busy: your sanity (and newly glossy nails) will thank me.