Things That Need a Deep Breath: theSkimm on De-Stressing

Hit the reset button with these tips to calm down.

Courtesy of Benevolente82 / Shutterstock
Courtesy of Benevolente82 / Shutterstock

You’re busy. Congrats — so is everyone else.

Sometimes it can feel like a competition for who’s more overscheduled. This is not a competition you want to win. Insert the de-stress trifecta: sleep, organization, and self-care, aka finding what works for you to stay balanced.

First stop: sleep. It’s cliché to use “get more sleep” as a solution to every problem. But clichés are cliché for a reason. Your relationship with your bed is one of the most important ones in your life. It’s generous, silent, and doesn’t care if you kick it in the middle of the night.

How much sleep should I get?

What’s your age again? Use the wisdom of Blink-182 to decide how much zzz you need.

You probably think eight hours is the golden rule. Turns out, that depends. If you’re a newborn, congrats on being a baby genius and reading so early. Also congrats because you’re supposed to sleep 12 to 16 hours. Every. Night. Kids who are no longer babies get nine to 11 hours. Adults are supposed to clock in seven to nine hours. Adults over 65 should get seven to eight hours. Then there are those people who say thy only need four hours. We say they’re lying or they’re vampires. PS: Yes, you do need to sleep. Benefits include strengthened memory, higher energy, a faster metabolism…and staying awake at work.

What about when I can’t get to sleep?

Sometimes sheep don’t cut it. It’s important to relax the mind before you drift off. People will tell you to meditate before bed and consider taking melatonin. But here are some other, lesser-known tricks that have worked for us.

For the person who has literal sugarplum dreams

Make dinner. In your mind. No, really. Close your eyes and think of the dream meal you’d like to cook, and in your mind, go through all the steps to get that dinner ready.

Nothing brings sweet dreams quite like mincing garlic in your head at midnight.

For the person who’s soothed by a crossword puzzle

Flip it and reverse it. Aka sing the alphabet backward. Warning: Do not freak out when you get stuck; you are not having a stroke. Warning two: You will soon realize you can get quite good at this, and it will lose its power over time. You can also try counting backward from one hundred.

For the person who thinks history’s a snooze

Get schooled. As in, read a long biography. Because there’s nothing like a good book about a former president to get your eyelids into gear.

For when you’re prone to Instagram rabbit holes

Distance makes the double tap grow fonder. People will tell you to keep your phone in another room. We know you won’t do that. So keep it charging on your dresser or somewhere you can’t reach, instead of on your bedside table. Or switch your settings to grayscale to make your phone less appealing. Screens (and that includes TVs) are like a traffic jam en route to the Land of Nod.

For when you have the same thing for breakfast every morning

Make bedtime a habit too. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every PM and AM. Your circadian rhythm (your daily sleep and wake cycle) will stay on track, and you won’t feel the need for a post-lunch nap.

For when you feel all wound up

Just breathe. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Breathing in through the nose helps slow the breath and fight infection, while breathing out through the mouth releases more carbon dioxide. All of which helps you sleep better.

For when your head is full of too many things

Take an oxygen break. Use the 4-7-8 breathing technique to clear your head and relax your mind. Here’s how it works: Inhale through your nose for four seconds, hold for seven seconds, and breathe out through your mouth for eight seconds. Another one to try is called Nadi Shodhana. It’s a yoga breathing technique that’s supposed to help you focus. Plug your right nostril and inhale through your left. Then plug your left nostril and exhale through your right. Aaand repeat.

For when you want to “live in the moment”…

Meet mindfulness meditation. This is the type of meditation that focuses on breathing and bringing your attention to the present

moment. The past and the future need not apply. You probably want to start with some help. Check out apps like Headspace and Stop, Breathe & Think for meditation guidance.

Excerpted from How to Skimm Your Life by theSkimm, copyright © 2019 by theSkimm. Used by permission of Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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