Chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool. When you feel like life is moving too fast, The Fresh Prince theme song actually becomes a good mantra. Here are five ways to find your center.
We all know that life satisfaction doesn’t necessarily correlate with the amount of dollar bills in your bank account, the seniority of your job title, or the mark of the label sewn into your latest purchase. You can have everything going for you but still feel extremely stressed, anxious and unsteady. The thing about success and stress is that people often think they go hand in hand. In reality, I find that I do my best work and feel like the happiest version of myself when the pressure is off and I’m calm & cool as a cucumber. I try to bring an easy going, positive attitude to the table, but of course, life and its many stressors often get in the way.
One of the secrets to enjoying life more or at least feeling more able to manage everything on your plate lies in your ability to steady yourself, find your center, and relax your mind. When the world feels like it’s spinning too fast, you have two choices. You can drop to your knees and scream “why me” into the abyss and proceed to spiral down the path of self-pity…OR you can find a way to connect with yourself and then calmly get your shit together. I know we spend a lot of time talking about fashion, beauty, and health on the blog, but I’ve been wanting to expand the realm of my content lately. In the spirit of mindfulness and mental health, here are some simple, but often overlooked, ways to silence stress and increase relaxation.
Schedule Your Sleep
Most of us mamas have a non-negotiable bedtime for our kids and for good reason. I know that if London goes to bed an hour later than normal, getting ready for school is going to be an uphill battle with an increased probability of tears at the breakfast table. However, as adults, we don’t always enforce our own bedtimes, or even set them at all. Do we grow out of tiredness, fatigue, and morning grumbles? Not so much. We just get better at ignoring them all.
By setting a regular bedtime and wake up time for yourself, you’ll soon start to notice that you feel more energized and focused in the mornings and throughout the day. While we sleep our energy reserves are restored, immune systems are boosted, cortisol (stress) levels are regulated, muscle tissue is repaired, and our bodies control feelings of fullness and hunger. Basically your body resets and regulates all of your systems while you snooze. When you go through life getting 5 hours here and 6 hours there, your body starts to protest. Getting into a predictable sleep routine is like your brain making a pact with your body. “I promise not to stress if you start hitting the hay from 11:30 to 7.” It may be difficult at first, but after about 28 days (the time it takes to build a habit), your internal clock will get the message. You’ll be less prone to tension and more equipped to handle whatever curveballs life throws at you.
Practice The Pause
Increased consciousness is a game changer. How many times have you rushed through your day mechanically, without really paying attention to what you’re doing? You scarf down your lunch quickly while checking emails, and when someone asks you later, “what did you have for lunch?” you can’t even remember. If you let these patterns build up, you’ll start to feel grumpy and disoriented, like you’re tripping over your own feet trying to keep up with the pace of the day.
I’ve mentioned that meditation has been a huge catalyst for change in my own life, and I strongly encourage everyone to try it. If meditation isn’t your thing, you can simply set reminders on your phone throughout the day to take a pause. Whether you’re sitting in a meeting, eating lunch, or on your commute, take a moment to slow your thoughts down. Check in with your body. Is my jaw clenched? Are my shoulders tense? Relax your muscles and really try to be present in the moment. Whether that means chewing the next bite of your salad more slowly to really taste it, putting your phone down and looking around, or taking some deep breaths, just a few moments of awareness can make a big impact.
Be a Kid
I recently saw a post on Pinterest that said something along the lines of “adults are just big kids with money.” It’s so true! We’re all young at heart and sometimes the best way to take a pause is to do something childlike and goofy, a phenomenon that is commonly referred to as “fun.” Jump on a trampoline. Hula-hoop. Get an adult coloring book. Play the album you listened to in middle school and dance around. If you have kids, do something with them that you used to enjoy doing when you were their age, even if they’re not that into it. Play dress up with them or build a blanket fort. Sometimes you just need to remember what it feels like to be ten, even if just for a few minutes.
Do Low-Impact Activities
It’s common knowledge that exercise is a great stress combatant. However, feeling the pressure to make it to that workout class or hit the gym every on weekday containing an “s” can turn into a stressor in itself. Intense sweat sessions are important, but sometimes low-impact activities are just the relaxation recipe that you need to reset. If you’re having a day from hell, or if you need to unwind in a way that doesn’t include high intensity kickboxing, do something active but do it slowly. Take a leisurely bike ride. Hop in the pool if you have access to one and float around. Go for a walk around the neighborhood (and resist the urge to weave through people like a New Yorker). Engaging in movement without feeling pressured to burn a certain amount of calories or reach a pull-up quota will help you slow down your mind along with your body.
Try Your Hand At “Hygge”
You’ve probably encountered this Danish word though you may not know how to pronounce it (it’s “HOO-ga” by the way). This words comes from the Danish word for well-being. Though it can’t be translate to a single English word, it essentially encompasses all activities that revolve around being at ease and using the simple joys of life to create a cozy atmosphere. Schedule a non-negotiable window of time each week to silence your phone, get extremely comfortable, and do something you enjoy. Think sweatpants, throw blankets, candles, and a warm drink. You could also take a long bubble bath with a magazine or have a comfort food while watching your favorite film. Get the idea? Then get comfortable, and add hygge to your vocabulary.
If you ever have days or weeks or months where you feel like you’re struggling to find your center, these five tips are extremely helpful. Maybe you’ll try your hand at one or combine a few to see what works best for you. Either way remember to prioritize relaxation. You run the day. It doesn’t run you.