Stress and schedules: The two go hand in hand and, without proper management, can create one vicious cycle. With summer breaks winding down and school activities and playdates picking up, it can be easy to get over-scheduled. But before you let panic set in, take a look at some of the ways you can reduce stress and clear your mind, allowing you to manage your schedule in a healthier way.
Just say no
It seems like the obvious answer: When you’re piling too much on your plate, you simply say “no.” If only it were this easy—but perhaps it is. It can be difficult to tell a friend you can’t make it to their get-together or your child that there just isn’t enough time this week to visit their favorite friend. But the more you make saying no a habit, the easier it will be and the better you will feel with a more manageable schedule.
Breathe with intention
Did you know there are different types of breathing and not all are good for you? When we get stressed, our breathing tends to become more rapid, leading to dizziness, increased heart rate, and muscle tension. These physical reactions can cause the body to release stress signals, leading to panic attacks.
However, when we breath slowly and from our abdomen (diaphragmatic breathing), we are creating a deeper path for breath, which helps reduce the feelings of stress. To experience the benefits of breathing in this manner, inhale deeply through your nose, relax your shoulders, and exhale through the mouth. If you’re already experiencing anxiety, try taking deep breaths through your nose, count to four, exhale while counting to six or seven, and then repeating the cycle. The act of focusing on counting and the pattern you’ve created can help take attention away from anxiety and get you feeling more balanced.
Take fewer coffee breaks
For many of us, it’s just not living without caffeine. From early morning coffees to afternoon colas, the caffeine you ingest can add up, and that can lead to an increase in stress. Caffeine is a drug that can lead to an increase in cortisol levels, which can impact your mood and sleep, and leave you with cravings for more.
Instead another hit of caffeine, opt for something with a little less, like an unsweetened green tea or a decaf with coconut milk. It will taste the same, give you a hint of sweetness, and help promote a less-stressed day.
Have a jam session
They say music is good for the soul, but it’s also remarkably good for the brain. In a recent UK study, scientists discovered that people who listened to what’s now being called “the most relaxing song in the world,” experienced a 65% reduction in anxiety. Marconi Union’s song, “Weightless” was created in collaboration with sound therapists and was crafted with tones and harmonies made to reduce cortisol levels. Give it a try and see if you feel its calming effects.
Pick up a pack
When you’re feeling stressed and overbooked, you probably aren’t thinking about popping a piece of gum into your mouth to calm your nerves—but you should be. Studies have shown that habitual gum chewers experience less stress throughout their day than those who don’t chew. Additionally, chewing gum can help you feel more alert. Just make sure to go the sugar-free route.
Stop and smell the essential oils
Have you ever experienced a sense of calm and peace when smelling your favorite flower or getting a whiff of a lavender candle? That’s because scents, particularly those with lavender, can contribute to stress reduction. Essential oils—concentrated compounds extracted from plants—are often used as a complimentary therapy for people with anxiety or depression.
The next time you feel panicked or stressed from your schedule, try one of these techniques to take the edge off. The best part is, they don’t add more time to your already busy day, and with practice, can become a regular part of stress management.