Lately I have been thinking a lot of stress and anxiety and the impacts on your body and mind. I tend to use the word stressed to account for a multitude of feelings from actual stress, anxiety or worry. Its a blanket term I use even though they feel and present differently. Worry tends to be more in the mind, ruminating thoughts, things going around and around my brain whereas anxiety tends to have an additional physical response such as tense muscles, tummy aches, headaches, shortness of breath. Stress really is the demand placed upon your body or mind that causes the worry or anxiety.
I spend a lot of time trying to lesson these feelings, be it worry or anxiety, from my day to day life and relax my body and mind. If fact the amount of time I spend purposely trying to relax its a wonder there is time to feel stressed. Everyone responds to things differently and the things I talk about cannot replace professional and medical help so please do seek the help you need but I thought I would share a few things that I will put under the banner of relaxation that I do consistently that have helped me just get through those daily stressors.
For me relaxation takes on different forms depending on the time of the day. In the morning its about setting yourself up right even if you know it is going to be a stressful day, throughout the day it is about managing the stress and then at the end of the day its about getting rid of the stress so you can relax and ultimately get a good night sleep. Stress is just exhausting!
So lets start with setting myself up right for the day. Over the years I have tried so many different morning routines, it started for me with some of the You Tubers I was watching for things like beauty and make up. One of them was a business owner and starting doing videos on how she deals with being so busy, the stress of a business and how she doesn’t get overwhelmed. One of the things she advocated for was getting up early and doing a morning routine. From there I your tubed loads of videos on morning routines to find one or bits of one that suited me.
So what is a morning routine? Well its a series of actions you take every morning that together have a positive impact of your day and ultimately your life. The actions you take depend on your goal so a lot of people create there routine around fitness, others around learning or around gratitude and relaxation. My routine is the later.
So what do I do? Each morning Monday to Friday my aim is to get up at 6am. It isn’t that early but it is early enough for me to have some time before work to do my routine. Firstly when my alarm goes off I listen to a morning meditation. I’ve always been a little skeptical about meditation as I find my mind wanders and I felt a little strange to be honest but I kept hearing about the positive benefits so I kept going until I found videos that I did concentrate on. For me that’s quick, simple, positive and something I can relate to. I do a meditation first in the morning because it basically mean I can wake up slowly and get an extra 10 minute in bed but also do something positive.
After this I take my dogs for a walk, I used to do this just before work but I find doing this earlier wakes me up better. Once back I make a drink and open my journal.
Journaling has been something I have been thinking about for a few years. I’ve read so many positive benefits but the thought of sitting there and writing about my day just didn’t appeal to me, I didn’t think I would stick to it. Then I started reading about bullet journals, these are more based around to do lists, brainstorming, habits and routines rather than writing in the same way you would a diary. In my journal I do one page, no more, and the way I organise it is a series of questions which I answer and then habits to track. So my one page looks like this:
It has taken me about a year to get to this point where I am happy with my set up and you may have different elements you wan to incorporate but me this really works. So let me talk you through why the different things.
I have read loads of studies that gratitude and focusing on the good can bring you out of a bad mood, make you a happier person and generally improve your mindset. So I write down three things that happened the day before than were good, this can be anything from a nice dinner, a good cup of tea, a good work meeting. Then I write down what I am grateful for that morning. I try to keep this low level as of course I am grateful for my family, my friends, my life but I want to dig into more specifics so a big one I have been using recently is being really grateful that I have enough money to buy some nice treats for my dogs to keep them entertained when we are on our laptops working at home.
Next the idea is to clear my mind of those worries that may be a hangover from the previous day. So I write down what is on my mind, sometimes there is one prominent thing day after day and other times there is a whole list of mini worries. By writing down what my thoughts are and what I can do about it helps clear my mind and also set a course of action rather than just go over and over it.
Then I look at what would make the day great, this one is hard because on cold Monday morning when Im tired and stuck in my back room at a desk I feel a bit helpless on how to make the day great, you also have to be realistic as to write down ‘ winning the lottery’ every day will likely eave you disappointed. So the aim is to be write down what would make to day great even with the restrictions placed on you. So if its Monday at work and its cold and wet then what would make this the best work Monday?
Then I write three achievements that will help me make that goal of making my day great. For these it can be ‘publish a blog post’, write a to do list or even just light a candle and appreciate the wintry weather.
Finally it is on to habits, for me I put in things like ‘drink 2 pints of water a day’, take my vitamins. Again the level and the type of habits you track are up to you.
Once I have done my journal for the morning I then just get ready for work and get on with my day. The whole routine including meditation and walking the dogs is about an hour but you can take a lot more time or a lot less depending on what you want to add in to your routine and what you want to achieve.
So that is my morning routine, I hope you have found that useful, I would love to hear about your morning routines and what you do to relax.
Thanks for reading