person breathing glittery air in and out of their lungs as they de-stress and sit in a meditating pose
Illustration by Kalyn Street, Drexel University

5 Easy Ways To De-Stress During Stress Awareness Month

To honor the occasion, follow these simple steps to help bring peace to your everyday life. Breathe in and out a new you.

Thoughts x
person breathing glittery air in and out of their lungs as they de-stress and sit in a meditating pose
Illustration by Kalyn Street, Drexel University

To honor the occasion, follow these simple steps to help bring peace to your everyday life. Breathe in and out a new you.

Everyone has to manage stress in all aspects of life. While dealing with some anxiety on a daily basis is a normal part of the human experience, issues arise when one fails to cope with nervousness in a healthy manner and it becomes too overwhelming to handle. Since it is National Stress Awareness Month and the need to deal with pressure is universal, here are five tips you can incorporate into your life to help you de-stress.

1. Learn and Use Breathing Exercises

One of the simplest ways to dissipate internal tension is by practicing breathing exercises. These can be completed in public or in private spaces. All that matters is that you are in an environment that does not stop you from focusing solely on your breathing. An example of a breathing exercise is the 4-7-8 technique. For this exercise, after exhaling all the air from your lungs, inhale through the nose for four seconds. Then, hold your breath for seven seconds before exhaling through the mouth for eight seconds. Make sure that your lungs are emptied by the end of the cycle. Repeat these steps four more times.

Another practice to employ is called box breathing. Also known as square breathing, box breathing starts with an exhale that expels the air in your body, followed by inhaling for four seconds. Then, hold your breath for a count of four and exhale for another count of four. Finally, pause your movements and hold for four seconds. Repeat these steps three more times. As you go through these acts, imagine a square and “draw” each line of the square with your eyes if they are open or in your mind if they are closed. By the time you are done, you should have a completed square with connected corners. Controlling your breathing will allow the rest of your body to relax and make you feel more grounded.

2. Take Daily Walks

One’s level of daily physical activity varies from person to person. Exercising for an hour a day, especially in a fully equipped gym, is not feasible for everyone. However, people need to move around at least a little bit each day. A simple habit to include in your routine is a daily walk. These trips do not need to last an hour or even 30 minutes. They can take 10 to 15 minutes if that is what works best for you. As long as you can get outside or stroll in a spacious enough area inside, the length of the walk does not matter. Moreover, this activity is one that should be separate from other tasks. As in, do not count walking to and from your car with your groceries or the steps to get to class as your daily walk. These treks should be ones where you only de-stress. These walks are for your well-being, which is more important than anything else.

3. Stretch Every Morning

Rather than starting your morning rushing around your place or working on assignments or projects, kick off the day by stretching. Just like the walks, the number of stretches and time spent doing them can be adjusted per person. Stretching each and every morning will make you feel better because this practice activates your parasympathetic nervous system and increases the flow of blood to your muscles. Implementing a stretch routine will alert your body that the day has started and relieve any sort of ache you have from stress. For the most part, you only need a yoga mat or an object that can act like one, such as a blanket. Here are two resources with a list of possible morning stretches: Healthline and Bupa.

4. Plan Time Away From Screens

It is hard to imagine life without looking at a screen every day. Excessive screen time has been linked to stress, poor sleep and other mental health problems, so avoiding it will improve your overall anxiety levels. However, whether it be on the phone, computer or tablet, avoiding screens for an entire day is practically impossible. Still, you can find parts of your day to make time for something else. For at least 15 to 30 minutes each day, put your devices away and spend time investing yourself in another activity. Some possible ventures include reading, journaling, baking or cooking, cleaning, gardening, or sitting in silence. Take at least one break from everything that involves a screen. Planning for moments that do not involve electronic devices permits you to center your mind on relaxing thoughts and actions.

5. Start Saying “No” More Often

Sometimes, people are engulfed in stress because they take on too much at once. Due to America’s “hustle culture” and the need that some have to do more than they can manage, one can trap themselves by not establishing necessary boundaries. Your free time is valuable. You should use it how you want to without sacrificing your health or neglecting the time you need to de-stress every day. To help manage stress, go through all your tasks and determine which ones must be completed and which ones are not as significant or are fine to be dropped. Also, moving forward, consider opportunities when presented to you before accepting or rejecting them. If you decide to take the task on, make sure it won’t cause you more anxiety.

Why Incorporating De-stressing Practices Is Important  

Integrating these behaviors into your daily routine to de-stress will have a positive and lasting impact. These practices are significant as they allow you to stay healthy, calm and more satisfied in life. Lots of people tend to dismiss smaller actions like these and attempt to push their stress to the side, but one should always make sure to include habits that address and lessen anxiety. Hopefully, these tips were helpful and become things you start to use.

Writer Profile

Meredith Granmayeh

Chapman University
Creative Writing, Communication Studies

Meredith Granmayeh is a junior creative writing and communication studies double major at Chapman University. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing and journaling, traveling, and spending with her cat, Inky.

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