Taking care of ourselves in Midlife
Life is great, every day is a gift, and I’m ever so grateful for that. But I know this. Life can also be incredibly stressful. Whether it’s a seasonal rush like the holidays, health-related, family-related, work issues…the list is a long one, isn’t it?
We’re in that sandwich generation and we may be caring for children, grandchildren, and aging parents, with our own lives thrown into the mix. Yes, our days can become stress-filled before we know it.
There are times in our lives when stress can actually be good for us, and that type of stress is called eustress. It can spur us on to action, to accomplish a goal, make that speech, finish the race, so to speak.
More often, though, stress affects us in negative ways, and if left unchecked, can affect our health and ultimately our longevity. As women in midlife, it’s essential that we pay attention to our bodies and the stress hormones, and listen to what it’s telling us.
Let’s consider 10 creative ways to destress + 5 more things we can do to make our life less stressful. Some are those quick 5-minute stress relievers and others can involve a bit more time, or perhaps changing our habits and behaviors, at least for an hour! But all of these tips and things to do to relax and destress can help us cope with life’s difficulties in a healthy way.
I have a free printable for you to keep handy and use when the day gets stressful. And, during those extra difficult times, you might want to carry it in your pocket! You’ll find access to the printable below.
Oh…I have an idea! Take this time while reading the post to unwind for a few minutes. It will be a short stress relief mini-break. Grab your beverage of choice, get comfy, and read on. 💗
De-Stress: to release bodily or mental tension; to unwindmerriam-webster.com
Creative and Fun Ways to De-stress
One of the most effective ways to relieve stress in a healthy way is to know that it is there and it’s trying to overtake your task, your day, your week, month, or life. Self-awareness is key.
The unhealthiest thing we can do is…nothing. If we don’t acknowledge the issue head-on we won’t take any action to deal with it, let it out, and let it go.
Quick things to do to relax and de-stress
1 | Visualize yourself on a 3-minute vacation
If transporter machines were real, like Star Trek, I’d be beaming myself to South Florida at least once a day! But in the real world in which I live, that is not possible.
So if need be, I’ll take a few minutes to close my eyes or go through some photos, and feel the breeze, smell the air, squish my toes in the sand, soak in the rays of the sun…and let myself be immersed in that world for a short time. For me, that is a sure way to unwind for a few minutes.
How about you? Where would your 3-minute vacation take you? It really can help alleviate the stresses of the moment.
2 | Practice Deep Breathing
Deep breathing can have a positive impact on anxiety and stress levels. There are a number of different ways to practice this, and I found one that is simple and can help to not only relieve stress but may help you fall asleep faster.
The 4-7-8 breathing pattern works like this:
- empty the lungs of air
- breathe in quietly through the nose for 4 seconds
- hold the breath for a count of 7 seconds
- exhale forcefully through the mouth, pursing the lips and making a “whoosh” sound, for 8 seconds
- repeat the cycle up to 4 times
Here’s another technique called a heart boost:
As you inhale, think about one or two of the best moments of your life. As you exhale, release the negative feelings and stresses. Your heart will shift rhythms when you pair a positive emotion with inhalation and help improve your mental state.
3 | Do a Little Rocking
Really. It really is a creative way to destress, isn’t it? The gentle rocking motion (emphasis on the word, gentle!) can release endorphins, improve mood, and even reduce pain.
It’s amazing how such a simple activity can give us the ability to decompress and feel better. Keep that rocking chair handy, my friends!
4 | 10 Minute Walk Break
It’s no secret that I love to walk, so this is one of my go-to solutions during a stressful time. When it’s too cold or nasty to be outside, that doesn’t stop me. I walk, jog, march…whatever I need to do, inside.
Even if it’s just for a few minutes, a short walk can clear our head, boost endorphins, and reduces stress hormones. These types of activities are also an effective way to keep our metabolism strong as we get older.
5 | Take Time to Laugh
Research has found that laughing can decrease stress hormones, reduce artery inflammation and increase HDL, the “good” cholesterol. What can you do to bring a smile to your face?
- watch a funny video on Facebook or YouTube
- watch part of your favorite comedy
- think about a memorable moment from a funny TV show
- reminisce about a funny thing that happened to you or someone you know, and re-live the moment
Another benefit to laughing? It burns calories. Put that smile on your face often, add some genuine laughing, and the benefits are numerous. 🙂
6 | Be Grateful
When you’re in the midst of a stressful situation, if possible, take a few minutes to concentrate on what you are grateful for.
It could require some concentration, but taking yourself out of that difficult place for a few minutes to focus on gratitude can help both your mind and body feel better.
7 | Hand Out a Hug
Research has shown that hugs can protect people from stress and infection. So go ahead, hug someone you trust and care for. Not only does it feel good, safe and uplifting, but that hug can also help you mellow out.
8 | A,B,C…1,2,3
It’s such a simple thing, but focusing on counting for a few minutes can help you wind down. It’s a neutral type of thought so it takes emotion out of the equation.
You can also recite the alphabet backward to get your mind off of the stress of the moment (unless you think this particular little task will cause even more stress!)
9 | Chew Some Gum
Yep. An Australian study conducted in 2008 found that chewing gum helped relieve anxiety, improve alertness and reduce stress.
So go ahead and chomp on that gum for a little while…work out your frustration!
10 | Give Yourself a Scalp Massage
Just five minutes with a DIY scalp massage can be oh-so-relaxing. You might even forget why you were stressed:
- loosen your hair
- part your hair down the center and divide it into 4 quadrants. You can clip it or just do it visually, whatever is easier for you.
- using just your fingertips (no nails) begin at the temples and massage a small section in the selected area. Use firm pressure but not too hard, going in a circular motion.
- work your way back in small sections, and don’t forget the area around your ears.
- focus on one section at a time and don’t rush through it.
Who knows? Maybe your scalp massages will help your hair grow, too.
Grab your free printable to keep these creative ideas to de-stress at your fingertips
Plan Ahead for Ways to Decompress
The next five suggestions may be familiar to you already, but they deserve to be considered when you are searching for things to do to relax and de-stress. Any one or all of these habits and behaviors will help you stay balanced and healthy.
11 | A Consistent Morning Routine
The way you start out your day can have a significant impact on how the day plays out. I am a firm believer in that!
A simple morning routine that works for you and your lifestyle will benefit your mind, body, spirit, and help you deal with the trials that a day can bring.
12 | Create a DIY Self-Care Kit
We know that life is going to throw us some curveballs, some twists and turns along the way. So why not be prepared with your personal Self Care Kit?
They are so easy to create, and once you have it, it sits patiently and waits for you to reach for it and find some relief at your fingertips!
Read and learn more about creating your own self-care kit.
13 | Tech-Break in Morning and Evening
We all spend time on our phones, iPads, tablets, laptops, and computers. Technology is part of our life, and it is a very good thing, most of the time.
But, too much can become a source of stress, for a variety of reasons.
Consider starting and ending your day without electronics in front of you. You really will be okay without your phone in your hand, I promise!
Particularly at the end of the day, by steering clear of the stuff that can get us worked up, emotional, addicted to seeing ‘more’, etc. we can prepare for a good night’s sleep without all that junk in our head. Consider creating a healthy evening routine to end your day.
Except for the Kindle, of course, as a source of reading material that puts me nicely to sleep in about 3 minutes. 🙂
14 | Declutter a Closet, Space, or Room
How frustrated and stressed out are you? How much time do you have!?
Answer those two questions, then decide what you’re going to tackle! Cleaning and decluttering can be cathartic when it comes to things that help us relax and de-stress.
And, when you’re done you’ve also gained a clean, clutter-free space. A two-for!
15 | Eat Healthy
A healthy, balanced diet is the basis and foundation healthy living, so it only makes sense that when you put clean, healthy food into your body it will help you stay focused, alert, and able to deal with what the day brings.
How will you choose to deal with stress? You know it’s bound to hit you right between the eyes at some point.
Stay in tune with your body, your emotions and your state of mind. When you feel things changing, stop for a minute and consider what is going on around you. Then, make finding things to do to relax and destress a priority.
Be prepared with these creative ways to destress. Download the printable and keep it handy for those difficult times!
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