Get Your Zen on With These 6 Simple Habits
It's time to eliminate stress and enjoy your life.
Literally everybody suffers from stress in our modern society—from all walks of life, at every age group, and any social status, we've all experienced stress, and we all know it sucks. It's even more daunting if you take into account the physical, mental/emotional, and behavioral effects that stress can have on you (according to The Mayo Clinic). These include, but are not limited to headache, muscle tension or pain, chest pain, fatigue, change in sex drive (oh no!), upset stomach, and sleep problems. It can cause negative mood changes such as anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation or focus, feeling overwhelmed, irritability or anger, and sadness or depression. Behavioral issues can also arise, like overeating or under-eating, angry outbursts, drug or alcohol abuse, tobacco use, social withdrawal, and exercising less often. These effects can lead to even worse outcomes like heart disease, obesity, cancer, stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure.
WE WANT NONE OF THAT MESS. UH-UH.
So, I present to you a friendly and comprehensive list of simple habits you can work into your everyday schedule to help you limit your stress and live a healthier, happier life.
Utilize a Morning and/or Nightly Routine
Chances are, you're probably already doing this every morning. You wake up, brush your teeth, grab some breakfast or coffee, maybe go for a run, check social media or whatever it is you like to start your day off with.
Or you might be how I used to be: wake up five minutes before you have to be out the door, lucky to have gotten my teeth brushed and probably forgetting something. The way we move through our first hours after waking up is the precursor to the rest of our day. Setting aside a defined period of time when you first wake up to prepare yourself for your day is crucial to your overall productivity, and it sets a positive mood, leaving you feeling fresh and ready for what lies ahead.
It's also super important to have a nighttime routine and, let's be honest, a reasonable bedtime. I totally get it, we're adults and we can finally do what we want and stay up all night (it's not like we didn't when we were kids), but if you work or go to school you need to have a decent night's rest in order to function optimally the next day.
The Mayo Clinic states that
"Sleeping less than seven hours a night is associated with weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure and depression, among other health risks. In addition, when you don't get enough sleep, you may experience increased body aches and pains, reduced immune function and impaired performance at work."
Also, it can increase the likeliness of you getting sick, as well as lengthening your recovery time.
There are lots of sites that give great instructions for constructing a morning/night routine, as well as videos that you can search up to see other people's routines for inspiration. Be sure to research habit stacking to easily incorporate healthy habits in the morning, like getting a glass of water in, meditating, stretching/exercising, planning, self expression, freedom from technology, meal/outfit prep, and small, daily housekeeping activities to minimize clutter buildup. The super cool thing about morning routines is that they're customizable, they can be as long or short as you like and consist of whatever works for you. The most important thing is that your routine is consistent, so you have the same experience each morning in order to start the day off right.
Meditation: Overstated but Underrated
When you think about zen and relaxation, the first thing that pops into your mind is probably someone sitting cross-legged with their wrists resting on their knees chanting a mantra. Meditation is becoming more and more popular with the growth of millennial influence. In fact, a study in 2012 showed that 8 percent of Americans (18,000,000 people) had used meditation at least once. Not including those who do it around the world as a part of their religion, it has proven effects to promote health and even anti-aging factors in the human brain.
The practice of meditation goes back approximately 5,000 years where it was first recorded in Hindu scripture. Today, we have extensive research on it's effects, thus spawning many modern modes for us to access this deeply relaxing art, like apps, music dedicated to meditation, and classes/courses that can teach you how. It is also utilized in the widely popular art of - the two are paired together often to achieve an advanced level of relaxation and stress-release.
An app that I use for meditation is called Headspace, it's free in the Apple and Android app stores and it's great for people of all experience levels, especially beginners. Try to work this into your morning or nightly routine- trust me, you won't regret it.
Relaxing and Chill Music/Soundscapes
If you've ever stayed the night at the beach on a vacation, you've heard the soft lull of the waves crashing against the shore just yards away from your hotel room. Or maybe a summer storm pattering against your window or on your roof. Unfortunately we can't always be at the beach, and unless you live in London or a tropical rainforest, rainstorms aren't going to happen all that often.
On the upside, apps like Spotify allow us to have the sound of oceans, rainforests, and stormy nights at home. Not to mention other chill tracks like acoustic covers, instrumentals, classical pieces, coffeehouse mixes or whatever makes you feel calm and relaxed. Playing this in the mornings while you're getting ready for your day, while getting ready for bed and sleeping or literally any time you wanna chillax is a great way to soothe your brain. Reported by bebrainfit.com, "The evidence is clear — playing a musical instrument or listening to music can positively affect brain health and function. ... Music can improve mood, increase intelligence, enhance learning and concentration, and ward off the effects of brain aging."
Lemme get some of that, right?
Whether it be through journaling, creative writing, 2D/3D art, graphic design, crafting, performing arts, sports, or literally anything you like doing that gives you a sense of self expression and productivity, making time to do things that you love that are unrelated to school/work is crucial to a happy and healthy life.
One that I especially love is journaling because I tend to build up a lot of thoughts in my head that can get overwhelming. Pouring them out onto paper makes me feel like I have more mental capacity to handle things that need my attention—as opposed to things I'm worrying unnecessarily about. Also, you can go back and read it later to see how much you've changed and grown, and relive little things you may have forgotten. Journaling is a great thing to tack onto the time you spend planning your day in the morning, or it can be done as part of your cool down routine in the evenings.
Although cleaning isn't the most interesting or fun activity to partake in, especially ALL DAY on the weekend because you're too busy to clean during the week, and your house is acquiring an unfamiliar odor sooo you really need to get some gloves on and bang out those chores.
Well, what if I told you you can work, go to school, parent, walk your dog, take care of yourself, and get your housework done all during the week, while still getting a good night's rest? It seems impossible but hear me out, you'll thank me later when you're out slaying, taking a weekend road trip, or just chilling in your fresh, tidy house this weekend.
It's called the one-minute rule. Basically, if you're just doing your thing and you come across a task that will only take a minute (or a few) to do, like starting a load of laundry, putting the dishes away, picking up the living room (or any room), making your bed, taking out the trash, or any number of things—you get it done real quick and go about your day. It may seem like a minor inconvenience but if you do these little tasks during the week it will prevent chore-buildup when you have a chunk of free time that you could spend napping. Think of all the naps you could take. Naps.
Not only will you have more time for the stuff you love, but you will feel better in your surroundings and be proud of yourself for keeping your space so tidy. Win-win!
Get. It. On. *insert smirking emoji*
This one's a little more risque, but let's be real, folks. Sex is great. AF. And if you know what you're doing and your partner knows what they're doing (super important guys), then you know that post-sex can cause a super relaxed and almost sluggish feeling (at least for me anyway). And even if you don't have a special someone, you probably can take care of yourself better than they can, anyway. That's right, people. Masturbation. It's proven to be beneficial to your brain by releasing endorphins and dopamine that give you a reward response and make you feel good mentally.
Nowadays, there's lots of ways to make it extra interesting with toys and other gadgets, techniques, inspiration (porn), and varying methods (like bathtime, as pictured above). As long as you're being safe and healthy with it, you can hook your brain up with a little natural high while getting off, and you can burn 60-90 calories per session too!
Please hit me up with any comments, questions or requests/suggestions at my email [email protected]
- Van ❤