In today’s busy world, most people suffer regular stress from the burden of their daily obligations. While stress may be impossible to avoid all the time, chronic stress can have a number of devastating consequences: it might lead to anxiety and depression, as well as not-so-fun physical symptoms like heart palpitations and digestive issues.
Much like making changes to your diet for your physical health, by taking the time to address stressful impulses and put relaxing, mentally healthy habits into your routine, you can help to clear your mind of stressors and strengthen your mental well-being. Ready to get started? Here are some tips for giving your mind a spring cleanup.
1. Learn to meditate, or practice “mindfulness”
Stress and anxiety are often tied to persistent thoughts about future events as well as negative memories from the past. Give yourself a chance to relax and breathe by clearing your mind with some meditation, or by practising mindfulness.
According to The Centre for Mindfulness Studies, “Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to whatever is happening in our lives in the present moment.” Rather than focusing on stressful hypotheticals or dwelling on the past, mindfulness centres you only on what’s around you right now. It has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood and memory, increase emotional intelligence, and help with mental resilience against future stress. Like exercise, mindfulness requires repetition and focus to see its benefits. Try setting aside some time every day for a relaxing session!
2. Get rid of clutter
Whether at home or in the workplace, being surrounded by clutter can cause anxiety and a feeling of being unsettled. Messy surroundings can give you the impression that you are surrounded by undone chores, adding to your already stressful day—and not being able to find what you need when you need it is always a frustrating experience.
It’s a cliché, but it’s true: dedicate some time for “spring cleaning” in your home, and you might just get a side benefit of increased mental relaxation as well. Donate clothes and other things you don’t need to charity, recycle what you can, and get rid of the dust and dirt that has built up in your home over the winter for a clean slate, mentally and physically.
3. Practice gratitude
Our brains have a tendency to focus on things that are going wrong in our day-to-day lives. It’s a human impulse: we want to identify problems so we can fix them. However, being constantly focused only on the negative makes it easy to forget all the good things around us, which can have a harmful effect on our well-being.
Take some time every day to be grateful for what you have—be it your relationships, a good job, the ability to travel, or anything else that brings you happiness. And don’t forget to take pleasure in the things that do go well in your day, no matter how small they may be.
Physical activity has been proven to help manage and reduce stress. And with winter finally at an end, the warmer weather and longer days mean you can now take your activity outside.
How should you maximize your physical activity? Find a balance between aerobic, high-intensity exercise like running or cycling, which is good for the heart, and more calming forms of activity like yoga, Pilates, or hiking in nature.
No matter what type of exercise you choose, make sure it’s something you truly enjoy—that will make it easier for you to see it not as a chore, but a break from your stressful routine. Adding some exercise into your day will have positive effects on your mental as well as your physical health!
5. Nurture your relationships
When overwhelmed by stress, it can be easy to neglect personal relationships as you focus your energy on putting out fires in your work or home life. However, no matter how stressed you may feel, or how cluttered your mind may be, talking to and spending time with loved ones is crucial.
This spring, try reconnecting with friends or family you haven’t seen in a while. The emotional support we lend each other in our relationships can be a huge help to managing stress and putting things into perspective. What’s more, taking a breather from your routine to grab lunch and have a laugh with a good friend can be just the relaxing break your day needs!
For more health information, visit the health section of our blog!