Feeling stressed, depressed, or just downright hopeless? You might feel like you’ve heard all the same advice: eat better. Sleep more. Spend more time with loved ones. Take care of yourself. This is all so much easier said than done, particularly when you can barely muster the motivation to get out of bed. So what can you do to feel better right now, if you’re facing a moment that leaves you feeling like feeling better is entirely impossible? Here are five ways you can alleviate stress right now.
When Things Fall Apart: 5 Tips for Alleviating Stress Right Now
Eat a Healthy Meal
In a fast-paced world where few of us take good care of ourselves, it’s easy to forget to eat—or to survive on Granola bars and protein shakes. Take 30 minutes to nourish your body with a large glass of water and a healthy, delicious meal. Feeling a little tired? There’s nothing wrong with getting a pick-me-up from coffee. In fact, research increasingly suggests that coffee is good for your physical and mental health in reasonable quantities.
The Art of Touch
Human touch can release powerful endorphins that make even the most difficult circumstances seem manageable. If you have a partner, spend some time snuggling, kissing, or having sex. Not in the mood? Try paying for a professional massage. The gentle strokes alleviate stress, and can help relieve muscle tension that you might not even have realised you had.
You might feel like you’ve heard that exercise is good for your health a million times before. That’s because it is the very best thing you can do for your physical and mental health. Exercise boasts the power to turn back the clock of ageing, improve cardiovascular health, prolong your life, and even reduce chronic pain. But you don’t have to wait around for the benefits of exercise to materialise weeks or months down the road. Exercising immediately releases endorphins, and can help ease tension and stress. Take a brisk walk or stretch for 10 minutes, and marvel at how quickly you feel better.
Meditation slows down racing thoughts, releases hormones that can improve your mood, and may even improve your health. You don’t have to be a Zen master to meditate, or even have any special skills. Simply slow down your breaths, breathing deeply into your stomach, and count to 100 breaths. Alternatively, practice mindfulness meditation. Simply go to a quiet space and notice what’s around you, without judgement or distraction. Every time you think of something else, redirect your thoughts to the present space and moment.
Do Something You Enjoy
Sure, you might have a tonne of obligations. Here’s the truth: if you feel terrible, you’re not going to get anything done sitting at your desk. Give up on meeting your obligations for an hour, and spend that time doing something you really enjoy—reading, taking a long bath, shopping, gardening, or even playing a video game. The key is that it has to be something you like, not just something you do by default or think that you should like. After an hour of enjoyment, you’ll return to the drudgery of work or household duties with more motivation and a greater sense of hopefulness, making you more efficient and helping you avoid the misery of endlessly wasted time.