How to Battle Stress and Use Your "Zen Ten"

Rocking my "Happy" Outfit in North Beach, SF You might have noticed your life got more stressful around the holiday seas...

Rocking my "Happy" Outfit in North Beach, SF
You might have noticed your life got more stressful around the holiday season and just hasn't let up yet, despite the fact that it's already April. There are so many reasons for the extra stress in your life-lack of exercise, less sleep, weather fluctuations, even more fluctuations in your diet-but your response to it can be simple. Here are some simple solutions to help you turn off your mean streak and/or freak out mode while dealing with stress.

Feeling the cranky coming? Sit up and correct your posture. If you're anything like me, you are hunched over your computer freaking out about not being on top of anything. Good posture improves blood flow, helps prevent kinks in your neck and back, and is scientifically proven to reduce cortisol and increase testosterone (which will also help you feel more confident). I find that when I correct my posture before or during a stressful call with work I feel more confident and able to tackle tasks and speak with authority. 

My best friend and former roommate is in her final semester of law school and doing quite well (proud friend moment here!). When I lived with her I would see her study and stress over things for hours. However, she always made sleep a priority. Rather than stay up all night studying for an exam and fretting, she would stop at her bed time and just make herself go to sleep. I was amazed (this was the opposite of my undergrad strategy). My friend, though, would always wake up refreshed and ready to go. She was less stressed and would tend to kill it in school because she wasn't overly emotional and could think clearly with all that healthy sleep. Studies show that lack of rest causes people to react emotionally, gain weight, be at a higher risk of depression, and be more susceptible to germs. So if you weren't stressed before just imagine being tired, fat, depressed, and sick. Just go get some rest already.  

Eat Well: 
Don't skip breakfast or lunch (I have a horrible habit of working through lunch because I don't have a set "lunch hour" and my time is not my own half the time). However, when you don't eat your glucose levels plummet. If you haven't heard of the term, "Hangry," it is the mashing of the two words, "Hungry," and, "Angry." Or in even simpler terms Low Glucose = Hell on Wheels. Moral of the story? Keep a healthy snack (like almonds) in your desk drawer to hold you over if you get caught on a call. Pack Kind Bars in your purse for on the go breakfast if you just can't make time to eat a real one. Your significant other/co-workers/family/roommate/mail man will thank you later. 

Just stop, take a breath in, and smile. Try it for 30 seconds and see if makes you feel better. Your muscle memory can sometimes trick yourself into feeling like you're in a good mood. 

Be Active/Get Vitamin D: 
I am sure you have heard it a million times how being active can give you endorphins and lower your stress levels. Spend 10 minutes taking a break walking or stretching. Even better if you get outside and get some Vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D deficiency can be a huge contributor to depression and stress. Bonus: Having a regular workout schedule really improves your mood, helps you sleep, and fights depression and bad food cravings. 

Dress "Happy": 
In the picture above I chose to dress "happy" for the day. My boyfriend thought I was weird for saying so (note to self: stop talking out loud in front of S/O) but it made me feel so much better. I've been so stressed lately and dressing in clothes that make me feel happy and smile or are cheerful in color really alters my mood. It's like putting on my war paint for the day. 

Find Your Zen Ten: 
Doing something different for 10 minutes can put you in a completely different mindset. I was doing my taxes recently (adulting sucks) and I was getting really emotional and worked up about the software losing all my tax information I had put in over that last 4-5 hours. I even cried a little, which is very unlike me. I had officially lost it and wanted to throw my computer. Thankfully, I decided to just step away for 10 minutes instead. Once I came back I was able to tackle it and not get emotional. I use this tactic with work as well. I set a timer on my phone and allow myself 10 minutes of zen. Once I come back to the original task I can see if from a new angle and am my most productive.

Here are some examples of "Zen Ten(s)" I have used before: 

  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • Walking Outside
  • Sunrise Salutation/Yoga/Stretching
  • Sitting on my balcony (reading/having a cup of tea or coffee)
  • Cleaning 
  • Reading an article or magazine
  • Writing a quick blog post
  • Setting up a flatlay picture for Instagram
  • Making a snack
  • Getting the mail
Do you have any stress relieving strategies? What do you do for your "Zen Ten?" Are any of them on this list? 

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