by Constantina Konugres
As the relaxing days of summer slowly start to dwindle, it’s important to keep calm and carry on as the rush of school, work, and a new season begins. Though easy to become overwhelmed with fall’s fast pace, keep in mind our fun, quirky tips and find yourself decompress and stress less even in your most hectic moments.
1. Be Snappy: Grab a camera, your iPhone, or buy a disposable and take some time to snap a picture as you go out and explore. Doesn’t matter if you’re in the office or at the Empire State Building, solely capturing the little things in life with a camera can make a big difference. Not only does taking pictures brighten your mood, but so does surrounding yourself with photos. Snap shots of friends, family, or even the lady bugs crawling in your garden can put in your happy place even if you’re not at the ones you see in the pictures.
2. Get Smelly: Natural scents increase your brain’s oxygen flow–boosting energy, immune function, and positive emotions. Tired and stressed from work? Take a whiff any citrus scent and have your energy soar. Need to calm down? Pat lavender oil on a hankerchief to keep with you and smell during the craziest moments of your day.
3. Channel your Inner Picasso: Even if your ceramic plate turns out to look more like a ceramic bowl, don’t fret! A perfect piece of art is not necessary when trying to reap from the benefits of creativity. According to Cathy Malchiodi, author of The Art Therapy Sourcebook, “The actual process of making art can alleviate emotional stress and anxiety by creating a physiological response of relaxation.” So grab a paint brush and remember to have fun, not worry about the end product of your project, and expect a lower blood pressure and heart rate to compliment your craft.
4. Soil Yourself: Need a boost of serotonin? Head on over to your backyard and start gardening! Soil contains Mycobacterium vaccae, a gentle bacterium which increases the production of serotonin in the brain, improving mood, calming stress, and enhancing the immune system. Raise some home-grown fruits and veggies or sow a bed of flowers for an eco-friendly way to decompress.
5. Break Out: A sweat, that is. By moving your body, you are increasing your overall health, mood, and production of endorphins (your brain’s feel good neurotransmitters). Almost every form of exercise alleviates stress so hit the gym, pavement, or even your local dance studio and expect all your worries to vanish the moment your body breaks a sweat. Just make sure your workout is something you love, and not dread, and your daily step will be as peppy as a your SoulCycle instructor.
6. Be Thankful: Even if everything seems to be going wrong with your day, take a second to pause, think of something that makes you happy, and thank the person who gave you that joy. Giving thanks for the positive aspects in your life has a calming effect and also serves as a reminder that others appreciate you. Not only does being appreciative give you perspective, it also makes others feel good, too.
7. Be Silly, Too: We’ve all heard that laughter is the best medicine and it’s no joke- a good laugh has great short and long term benefits when it comes to calming down. Laughing boosts your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and ups your brain’s endorphins. Laughter also relieves tension and increases your heart rate and blood pressure, which actually helps cool down your stress response. Long term benefits of laughing include: improved immune system, pain relief, a better mood, personal satisfaction, and a good sense sense of humor!
8. Don’t Forget to Breathe: No one forgets to perform the body’s most important function: breathing. What many do forget is the importance of breathing the right way. While deep breathing decreases stress, shallow, upper chest breathing actually increases your body’s tension. Reduce your short breaths by conscious breathing through your diaphragm and abdominal. This will control your nervous system and encourage your body, soul, and mind to relax.