Our mental health often suffers after losing someone we love. As you make plans for the months ahead, make sure you prioritize your own happiness and find ways to reduce stress in your life. We’ve compiled a list of ideas below to help guide you through the next steps of your self-care journey.
Sleep helps regulate our bodies’ hormones. A lack of sleep can cause the body to increase cortisol, the stress hormone, and cause our body to act as though we are in distress. When we are sleep deprived, the cortisol levels in our body lead us to react using our fight or flight reaction, regardless of the situation we are in. Getting better sleep can help us to approach difficult situations with more clarity and better regulate our emotions!
Light a candle to activate your senses
Aromatherapy has measurable benefits that reduce stress. Different scents can help you feel more energized, relaxed, and present. Certain scents can even alter brain wave activity to decrease cortisol levels. Next time you are feeling a bit overwhelmed, light a candle, turn on your diffuser, or even apply a scented body lotion to help relax.
Take a walk
Putting physical stress on your body actually helps to relieve mental stress – especially if you are getting fresh air too! Exercise is a great stress reliever that starts working in minutes. Going for a walk outside gives you the opportunity to move your body and enjoy a change of scenery. You can quickly get into a new frame of mind and give yourself a break.
When we are stressed, our sympathetic nervous system reacts and causes a faster heartbeat, quicker breathing, and even constricted blood vessels. A simple and accessible solution is to focus on our breath. Deep and mindful breathing exercises can help activate our parasympathetic nervous system to relax our bodies. Breathing exercises can also be done anywhere!
Writing is an easy way to refocus our attention. If you are particularly distressed, writing down what is on your mind can give you perspective and distance from the items that are hard to process. Take a few minutes a day to write down your thoughts and see if you notice a change in your mood after doing so.
When we are stressed, it is easy to forget all of the things we are thankful for. Making the space to practice gratitude can retrain your brain to focus on the good, and reduce stress in your daily life. Start by making a list of the big things you are grateful for. You can also check in with yourself throughout the day to remember small things that brought you joy and express gratitude for those moments. Did a stranger smile at you on the street? Did you drink your coffee before it got cold? Focusing on small moments throughout your day can make all the difference.
Consider what may be contributing to your stress
Sometimes we are actively seeking out stressful situations subconsciously. Watching the news, drinking too much alcohol or caffeine, or spending time on our phones can add unwanted stress to our lives. Be mindful of how you feel throughout the day and try to identify what your stress triggers are and make small habitual changes to feel better.
Schedule time with your loved ones
Studies show that spending time with friends and children releases oxytocin, a natural stress reliever!
Overextending ourselves isn an easy way to bring unwanted stress. Practice saying “no” when needed and consider where in your life you may be taking on more than you can handle.
Pick up a new hobby
Hobbies and leisure activities are a wonderful way to bring joy and excitement to your life. Try painting, knitting, dancing, pottery, or any activity that you have been curious about. Learning a new skill or engaging in something that makes you happy dramatically increases your quality of life!