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8 Ways to Mentally Destress During a Hard Week

It’s possible to combat the stress of intense jobs and fast-paced lives by focusing on weekly activities that eliminate mental anxiety. Here are 8 methods I use.

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Despite access to solutions designed to cut our workload, the majority of us continue to work too many hours. We also juggle more than we can typically handle. The result is a lack of balance that can lead to physical and mental stress. 

However, it’s possible to combat the stress of intense jobs and fast-paced lives by focusing on weekly activities that eliminate mental anxiety.

1. Personalized Yoga and Meditation Practices 

Brett Larkin is a yoga teacher who runs a successful online yoga teacher training certification for busy working professionals. “We help students understand the science behind why yoga is so effective at combating stress,” she says. Brett has seen first-hand how, once students are empowered with this deeper understanding, it helps them incorporate activities that focus on relaxation consistently. 

“We have many nurses, doctors, and entrepreneurs with high-stress jobs in our programs applying these ancient practices in a modern way that works for them. The science and philosophy behind yoga, which is not typically covered in classes, provides a structure for developing personalized weekly routines that truly combat work stress.” 

2. Fresh Air and the Great Outdoors

Whether you just open a window while you are working or step outside to work, nature can help you destress. In contrast to stale office air, the fresh air outdoors provides health benefits that stimulate your mental alertness. 

Additionally, Vitamin D from exposure to the sun provides physical benefits known to improve mood. One research study found that exposure to nature creates a more relaxed feeling. Try adding a view of the mountains, the beach, or even flower gardens.

3. Side Passions

It makes sense that people become stressed when all they focus on is their work. Their brains only get exposed to work-related activities that can seem mindless or repetitive. Some start wondering what value their life has when all they do is put in hours for an employer or even for their own business. 

Instead, people need mental stimulation and diversion to make life more meaningful, which helps to minimize stress. Pursuing hobbies or other side passions like community service offer that much-needed stimulation and diversion from the monotony of work and daily errands. Both hobbies and community service offer a way to see progress and achievement, adding purpose and meaning to our lives. 

4. Visualization

Visualization helps move your mind and senses toward a specific subject matter, sound, smell, or sight that is positive and invokes good feelings. It gets rid of stress by turning our mind toward something that is completely unattached to what was causing stress. By changing our focus, we can feel at peace. 

Adding music can deepen the results that visualization produces. The sound works in harmony with the picture in the mind. Then, two senses are working to create a diversion from thinking about stressful situations. 

5. Journaling

A study by Harvard Medical School found that the act of writing feelings and emotions down on paper helped ease their effects. From traumatic life events to daily stresses, expressive writing can help the mind organize and rationalize those events into something that is more manageable. Writing also provides meaning around those stressful events, allowing individuals to accept what happened rather than further suppress it.  

While the Harvard researchers determined keeping a journal may not work for everyone nor is it a cure-all, writing offers multiple benefits. 

6. Gratitude

In our daily rush, we only focus on the things that irritate us or cause problems. In actual fact, there are probably plenty of people and things in our lives that we couldn’t live without. 

Whether it involves writing it down, saying it aloud, or actively showing thanks, the act of gratitude is an instant way to erase the negative thoughts that fuel stress. Researchers at UC Berkeley found that gratitude separates individuals from any toxic emotions. 

They also found it works to improve mood even if a person doesn’t choose to outwardly express that gratitude. Most interesting of all is the conclusion that gratitude actually changes the brain for good for many months after showing or acknowledging this appreciation. 

7. Laughter

The saying goes that laughter is the best medicine, and that couldn’t be more accurate. It’s free and benefits the person laughing and those seeing the laughter. In this way, it’s an infectious mental de-stressor that benefits everyone. According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter can enhance how much air you take in, which helps your body and increases those happy hormones known as endorphins. It also activates your stress response and soothes tension. In the long-term, laughter has been found to improve your immune system, mood, and personal satisfaction while relieving physical and emotional pain. 

Watch a funny movie, read a humorous book, and seek out those friends and acquaintances that have a good sense of humor. Maybe even catch up on those silly YouTube videos and memes out there. 

8. Unplug  

Technology has helped us work differently and stay connected. However, this “always-on” environment is also contributing to the stress. The pinging of a smartphone signals anxiety and the need to respond. That makes it difficult to de-stress. 

Even if it takes some getting used to, it’s worth unplugging from electronic devices for a few hours or even a weekend. Pretty quickly, a sense of relaxation replaces the need to check screens. What once seemed so important is now replaced with a mentally beneficial activity like socialization with friends and family, nature, a book, or some other real-world experiences.

Apply De-Stressors Every Week 

Don’t keep these activities as one-off’s or treats. Make them part of your weekly routine to cancel out that mental stress. The benefits also provide a way toward a different perspective that can reveal the best approach for striking a better balance between all those work hours and a meaningful life. 

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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