Lives are changing in unexpected ways and you’re adapting to your “new normal” lifestyle as best as you can. You’re mostly likely telecommuting, the kids are learning through Zoom, and the weekend movie nights you look forward to are now few and far between. When you’re balancing being a parent, homeschool teacher, and career-driven worker, things can get stressful pretty quickly. To cope with this stress, it’s important to slow down and relax. Don’t worry. Even with a busy schedule, you can decompress effectively and efficiently, and we’re here to show you how.
Below are five ways to destress at home that take no more than 15 minutes out of your day.
Go for a Walk
Exercise is an excellent way to handle stress. A big reason why is that exercise helps your body release endorphins, which are neurochemicals that can relieve stress and make you feel good. Plus, when you exercise outside, you’ll be getting a healthy dose of vitamin D, which is a natural immunity booster.
When you’re short on time and don’t want to get too sweaty heading back to work, a brief walk around the block can do just the trick. Go outside and spend 10-15 minutes walking around your neighborhood. Admire the sky, trees, flowers, birds, and the beautiful world surrounding you. Whenever you see a neighbor, show kindness and wave hello. Taking time to just let go and get out of your head allows you to take your mind off the situation that’s causing you stress in the first place. Once you come back from your walk around the neighborhood, pay attention to how you feel. Hopefully, you’ll be refreshed and more collected when you return to your situation.
Some people also like to listen to music when they walk, while others let nature be their soundtrack. Go on walks with and without music and see which one suits your style more. If you choose to listen to some music, pick upbeat tunes that make you smile and put some pep in your step.
Immerse Yourself in a Creative Activity
Hobbies are the spice of life, and a creative hobby is one of the healthiest ways to manage stress. Creative hobbies aren’t just good stress relievers, though. They provide a wide range of other benefits, too. Taking up a creative hobby can boost your self-esteem, help you connect with other like-minded people, and make you a more interesting person all around.
You might be thinking, “I don’t have time for a hobby. I got a career and kids to take care of.” If you want to get better at something, it’s not about how long you practice. It’s about consistency. Spending 10-15 minutes a day practicing your hobby is much more beneficial than a two-hour session once a week. Commit to time and place, so you can create a routine that works for you.
If you’re looking for a creative hobby that gives you a reason to go outside, try dipping your toes into one of these activities:
Photography — Grab your camera and take pictures of your outdoor space or go out and explore your neighborhood.
Guitar — Pick up an acoustic guitar, sit out on your front porch or back patio, and try playing along to your favorite songs.
Cooking — Do you have an outdoor kitchen? Find a quick, easy recipe online and whip up a tasty meal during your lunch break. Just be sure to make enough for your kids to enjoy, too!
Write in a Journal
Writing is an incredibly powerful tool for expressing your thoughts and feelings, especially if you’re not comfortable talking with someone about them. While you can type away on your laptop, pen and paper may be a better option for reaping the mental health benefits of journaling. In fact, a study from the University of Iowa discovered that people who wrote their thoughts and feelings down in a journal felt more positive about their traumatic experiences.
You might be asking yourself, “What do I write?” When it comes to journaling, you don’t necessarily have to write poems, stories, or anything like that. It can be a stream of consciousness. One writing exercise you can do is called a “brain drain” and it’s simple to accomplish. The goal is to fill up two journal pages with your thoughts as they’re unraveling in your mind. Avoid editing yourself and don’t second guess anything. Write everything that comes to mind down. If you run out of things to write, put down “I don’t know what to write” over and over again. At the end of the day, this exercise is supposed to help you release your thoughts and blow off some steam.
Take 10 minutes out of your day to sit out on your patio or deck and just write. You’ll be surprised how much calmer and more relaxed you’ll feel.
Whenever you’re stressed, sometimes all you have to do is close your eyes and take some deep breaths. Set aside time every day to go outside and solely focus on inhaling and exhaling. This allows you to put your thoughts on hold and decompress naturally. Daily breathing exercises take practice, but once you get the hang of it, your quality of life can greatly improve.
A popular breathing technique you should try is the 4-7-8 breathing method. According to Healthline, breathing techniques like 4-7-8 that involve holding your breath for a period of time are designed to put your body into a deep state of relaxation. If you’re interested in trying this breathing technique, here’s how you do it:
- Get in a comfortable position where you’re sitting straight up. If you’re lying down, you may fall asleep while doing this exercise.
- Breathe in through your nostrils quietly for four seconds.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven seconds.
- Exhale out of your mouth forcefully for eight seconds.
- Repeat steps 2-4 three or four more times.
Clean and/or Declutter
While cleaning is not the most fun thing in the world, it does help you destress. According to a study conducted by researchers at UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families (CELF), there may be a link between lots of clutter in your home and high levels of cortisol — the stress hormone.
These findings make a lot of sense because whenever you enter a dirty, cluttered room — i.e., your son’s bedroom — how do you feel? Most likely tense and stressed out. Now, pick up a couple of things, organize them, and spruce up a few dirty areas. How do you feel now? You probably feel relieved and accomplished for taking care of chores around the house.
Since you’re short on time, you don’t have to do a full deep cleaning. Instead, pick an area and tidy it up a bit. Did your kids have an outdoor play session recently? See if they left any toys in the backyard and pick them up. Your patio or deck can always use a bit of sweeping or dusting, too. If you have outdoor cushions or pillows, check to see if there’s any dirt or debris that you can clean up.
Everyone goes through stressful situations, but if you carve out a little bit of time each day to decompress, it can do wonders for your quality of life.
Check out the POLYWOOD blog for more related articles.