The weather is turning, the elections are approaching, and if you’re a student, the schoolwork is starting to pile up. The holiday season is just around the corner, but what are holidays even going to look like this year? Fall is a stressful and crazy time, now more than ever. So here are some ways to relax for everyone trying to navigate these next few anxiety-inducing months.
1. Take a break from your screens!
I am always exhausted after a full day of online school, which is basically just sitting at a desk staring at a screen for hours on end. Not only can this give you a headache or make your eyes hurt, but it also stresses you out. The lights and stimuli from screens strains your eyes and brain, making you angrier, more impulsive, and less empathetic. Plus, if you’re looking at social media, it can distract you from being productive and cause you even more stress.
So take a break and turn off your laptop, tablet, or phone. Instead, look out the window, read a book, or take a nap. Do anything you want, as long as it doesn’t involve an electronic device. Whether it’s a five-minute or 2-hour break, it will do wonders for your mind, your body, and your productivity.
2. Get some fresh air
Especially as the weather gets colder and the days get busier, it can be tempting to stay in your room on your laptop or phone all day. But this only increases stress and encourages you to work constantly because you’re never away from the screens.
Instead, go outside! Just being in a natural environment instantly lowers stress levels. If you find yourself perpetually anxious or unable to stop working, go for a walk around your neighborhood and enjoy the natural scenery. I’ve done this many times when I feel overwhelmed, and it really helps me to slow down and just be in the moment.
3. Tidy your space
I’ve done this countless times during quarantine to help me de-stress. Looking at a messy room or desk can visually overwhelm you, while clean, organized spaces generally make you feel refreshed and energetic. This tip is especially effective because you end up with a cleaner space and less stress.
If cleaning your entire room feels like too much, start with your desk, your closet, or another smaller, more manageable space. If your room is already clean, reorganizing or redecorating could be a fun and relaxing activity, too. You’d be amazed at what a clean and tidy space can do for your stress levels.
4. Get creative
Even if you don’t think of yourself as a creative person, give it a shot. The options are endless – you can draw or paint, try your hand at embroidery or sewing, or learn an instrument if you don’t already play one. If all that sounds too intimidating, try just doing some coloring. And who knows? You might even discover a hidden talent.
If it doesn’t turn out looking (or sounding) perfect, it doesn’t matter, as long as you enjoyed the process. Concentrating on something small and manageable and finishing it can do wonders to combat stress. And who knows? You might discover some hidden talents along the way.
In addition to lowering your risk of heart disease, helping you manage your blood sugar, and keeping your brain sharp, exercise improves your mood by triggering the release of endorphins and lowering levels of cortisol (the stress hormone).
It doesn’t have to be super intense or a huge time commitment for you to reap these benefits – just some light cardio, a few yoga poses, or dancing to your favorite songs for twenty minutes daily can help relieve muscle tension, promote circulation, and improve your mood.
6. Spend time with friends and family
If you’re quarantining with your family, then spend time with them! Play a game, watch a movie, or just hang out and chat with them. Face-to-face social interaction is the best option. If you don’t have family with you or you really don’t want to interact with them, call or video chat with a friend (or a group of friends). You could plan a fun online activity such as a movie or an online game, or just relax and enjoy each other’s company.
When you’re stressed out, especially if you’re going through a particularly tough time, just talking to someone can help you feel so much better and give you an entirely new outlook on the situation.
7. Set aside time for reflection
My final tip is to set aside time to reflect and unwind at the end of the day. We’re living in a stressful and chaotic time, and it’s important to just take some breaks from life and reflect on what happened during the day. This can take any form – meditation, journaling, or just laying in bed listening to music. Check out these free mindfulness apps for relieving stress and anxiety.
If journaling or meditating seems like too much, try just writing down three good things that happened during the day. This might seem simple, but it has been proven to boost happiness and combat emotional exhaustion and stress.
The bottom line
Although taking time to talk with friends or do something just for fun might seem like a waste of time, the things you do to take care of your mental, physical, and emotional health will make you happier, healthier, and more productive in the long run. In short, just take a break – you’ll thank yourself later.