It’s 10:30 in the morning and I’ve already showered, consumed three cups of coffee, written a post, made breakfast and lunch for myself, attended an AM status meeting, banged out two layouts for a brochure cover design and responded to 10 emails — and now I’m about to stress-eat the entire box of Munchkins that our account person has fortuitously left on a cubicle top five feet away from where I sit. (On the bright side, though, this is my last week of straddling two jobs — as of next Wednesday I am officially full-time at TFD! Woo!)
Anyway, I experience a good deal of stress on a fairly regular basis. It’s not always the good and productive type of stress where I feel it lights a fire under my ass, and I get that extra boost I need to work hard towards a deadline I know I’ve been pushing off. I’m talking about the type of stress that is slightly paralyzing in the way that feels like, “I have x, y, and z to do within the next hour, and I don’t even know where to begin, so I’m just going to go grab a coffee from downstairs so I don’t implode in a fit of nerves right here on my chair.” It’s like I almost feel lost for a second because I’m not sure how to process and move forward with what’s begin thrown at me.
If I feel this way for too long or too often I notice that my spending habits begin to change. I’m lazy with packing lunch for the week and view my half-hour out of the office as a treat myself moment where I can justify a $13 sandwich and seltzer because I’ve somehow earned it. Or I’ll take a mindless trip to the mall where I visit the beauty store and drop $52 on a luxury face night serum because it, “reduces puffiness and revitalizes skin as you sleep!”
I think it’s important for everyone to get a handle on their stress levels before they start to affect one’s mentality about self-care and spending. Here are five simple ways to help reduce (or gain a handle on) the sometimes overwhelming stress you feel in your life.
Taking a bath is one of the easiest way to relax and unwind after a long day that will make the thought of going shopping for clothes and dropping some $$$ completely melt away. Make sure the water is piping hot, add in a little something to jazz up the water like essential oils or salts and if we’re feeling extra zesty, grab a little bit of wine to sit in the tub with.
When the weather outside is nice, few things are truly more rejuvenating than leaving your phone at home or at the office and going for a brief walk. Disconnecting for just a half hour can significantly change your mentality for the better. I get caught up in checking the various apps on my home screen multiple times an hour and I feel like i’m always subconsciously listening to the sounds that will signal the arrival of a message via text, gchat, Viber, WhatsApp, Venmo, etc. I feel like I’m always “on” and that nagging feeling of always wanting to be near my phone doesn’t help. Usually I’ll take a walk with a friend so that there is conversation to distract me and soothe the stress i’m feeling. Sometimes walking alone only provides me with silence in which to reflect about all the nonsense I have to deal with by the day’s end and the walk ends up turning into a ride on the cyclical anxiety merry-go-round for one.
Hearing the sound of someone else’s voice who you can just chat with does wonders for your mental health. You could simply be calling to check in on how their day is going and have a simple catchup. OR if you need to let off steam having someone on the other end of the phone that is distant enough from the current situation you’re in is an enormous help to lowering your stress level.
Whenever I find myself super stressed out and in need of instant gratification or a good laugh, I find myself scrolling through Instagram or Facebook albums looking at old photos of my friends and I, vacations I took, or a hilarious night out of (drunken) karaoke. Even if I spend just 5-10 minutes removing myself from my current situation and shifting back in time to a mindset that was carefree and fun, I feel like it acts as a little reminder that whatever stress and anxiety i’m feeling at the moment will pass. Stress is temporary and you have to do your best to get through the less than ideal situation you’re in and know you’ll be ok.
Sometimes the simple act of listening to music while lying down for 20 minutes or so is enough to send your mind back to peace and tranquility after a long day at the office. Never underestimate the power that instrumental music and deep breathing can have on your mind and body. If you’re at home, you can lie down and turn off the lights, or if you’re out someplace, you can simply put on headphones and let music take the place of stressful thoughts.
The next time you feel like you need a four-hour spa day to cure your stress and anxiety, think again. The path to inner calm does not lie in your ability to spend money on material things that will temporarily make you feel better, but rather in your ability to truly realize stress for what it is — a temporary state of mind that can be dissolved with a few simple tricks.