The 7-Day Stress Detox
Published on: December 29, 2022
Most of us experience some type of stress on a regular basis. And our minds tend to amplify and exaggerate it, making things worse. But we can learn to manage stress.
We all have unique ways of de-stressing, depending on our personality. Part of the challenge of decreasing stress is finding what works for us. Asking a few reflective questions can help determine the best strategy. Here are some questions to consider—plus research-backed ways to alleviate stress effectively.
Become aware of your stress. We don’t always notice how stressed we are, especially if we’ve become desensitized to it. When we check in with our bodies, we can feel that we carry around (unconscious) stress even when we think we are relaxed.
A great way to begin to de-stress is to tune in to your body and ask: Where am I holding tension in my body? Doing a mindful body check—drawing attention to certain parts of your body—at least three times a day can help answer this question. What emotions am I holding on to? What am I worried about? Am I concerned about something that may (or may not) happen in the future?
Take inventory. Most people pack the day with to-dos and don’t leave themselves time to transition between action items. Or they find it difficult to prioritize what’s most important. Taking an inventory of your daily schedule and deciding what’s essential can make a major shift in your stress levels. It helps you control what you can control—and acknowledge what you can’t. Looking at your to-do list, you’ll likely find at least one thing you can remove to create more ease and space within your day.
Elevate your stress mindset. What we tell ourselves when we’re stressed matters. Arming yourself with stress-relieving statements can help shift your mindset. For example, if you’re in a stressful situation like a job interview, it’s common to replay thoughts like, I’m probably not going to get this job. Or: I hope I don’t this mess up. If you notice those types of thoughts coming up, pause and tell yourself a more compassionate story: that you are prepared and you’ll do the best that you can.
Build your stress fitness. Like exercise, managing stress in healthy ways gets easier the more you do it. You can work out your stress muscles by intentionally creating stress (within a safe container) so you’re able to manage it better—I call it stress fitness, like exercise for the mind. There are many options for this: a hot sauna, an ice bath, a cold shower, extreme breathing practices (like Wim Hof’s), or aerobic exercise (which can build stress fitness along with physical fitness). Start with as little as one or two minutes (or more, if you’re able) of any exercise and work your way up.
Invigorate your senses. Stimulating your senses—as many as you can at once—can help put the mind at ease and relieve stress. There are many ways to do this. Being in nature is a powerful option: Mindfully walk through a park or forest and appreciate the scenery, touch the leaves, smell the eucalyptus, and hear the birds chirping.
Get deep rest. Sleep is when our bodies and brains are restored the most. But our bodies can restore themselves while we’re awake, too. Yoga is a great restorative practice, and if you prolong savasana, it’s even more restful. Take conscious breaths: You can immediately release tension and create a sense of ease in your mind and body with just five minutes of breathwork a day.
Give thanks. Gratitude is an incredibly powerful stress-reducing practice. Expressing gratitude with a daily affirmation or in conversation with a friend, partner, or family member can be extremely impactful to your well-being and the well-being of others around you.
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