Guys, life is stressful. Paying bills is stressful. Being an adult is stressful.
I’m sure I’m not saying anything you didn’t already know, and you’re probably rolling your eyes already – I don’t blame you. But I do want to share with you some ways that I try to deal with stress so that I’m not an uber-grinch to everyone all the time. I partnered with Red & White Spa Midtown in NYC to encourage you to take some time for yourself and de-compress. You know how on airplanes, they say that you have to put your own oxygen mask on before you can help others? That’s because you’re of no use to anyone if you run out of oxygen and collapse on the spot. DUH.
After 26 years on this planet, I know a thing or two about unwanted stress. While I definitely have a slew of privileges that plenty of others don’t, that doesn’t make me immune to feeling like I might crack sometimes. Between balancing friendships, improving romantic relationships, furthering my career and working on ever-present family drama + dynamics, sometimes it feels like I forget to breathe. Have you ever felt like that? I bet you have. And guess what? It’s ok. It’s normal. But it’s also really, really important to know when you need to take a second and take care of yourself. Here are some of my favorite ways.
- Yoga. Now here me out, because this is important. I’m not talking about the yoga that’s like, a real workout and leaving you sweating (although I’m sure that’s nice too). Tbh, I really don’t enjoy that kind of yoga at all. This is different – it’s more of a mix of stretching and breathing exercises. Things have been BANANAS at work recently, and last week my boss treated us by bringing someone into the office to walk us through a half hour of stretching, breathing, and just connecting with our bodies and being at peace. It was freaking life changing. By the end of 30 minutes, I felt exponentially calmer, less tense, and ready to conquer the rest of my week. There are tons of different ways to do something like this. Classes, of course, but you can also YouTube different videos, download podcasts, or download apps that walk you through brief meditations.
- Getting a massage. As I mentioned, work has been insane for me the last month or so. I’m talking working until 11pm on a Friday kind of insane. When Red & White Spa Midtown reached out to me to ask if I wanted to come in and try some of their services, I nearly cried from excitement. The tension that had been building up in my shoulders was something fierce. I could literally see little bulges of muscles gathered on my shoulders/neck, and it wasn’t cute. I made an appointment for after work, took the subway up to their 56th street location, and laid down for what turned out to be the most relaxing hour I’ve had all year. The spa is really nice, and aside from massages, they offer a ton of different services. I got the 1 hour Swedish massage, which started off with a brief moment of aromatherapy (which btw, excellently timed bc my sinuses were all backed up from the weather and this cleared them right up!), and then for the next 55 minutes, I was blissfully catatonic. My massage therapist got out every last knot in my back and shoulders, and created an atmosphere in which I was truly able to block out any concerns I’d been having about work and just focus on absolutely nothing. My mind was clear, something that hadn’t happened in a long time. As a thank you, they’re also offering 40% off any of their services to all of my readers. All you have to do is mention me when you stop by 🙂
- Bubble bath: Why make it complicated? Sometimes a simple bubble bath is the cure for a stressful day. Make it nice for yourself. Add in a delicious bath bomb, light a few of your favorite candles (note: do NOT place them by your head if you want to avoid potentially lighting your hair on fire), pour a nice cup of hot tea (or wine!), and throw on some soothing music. Not only will the hot water loosen up your muscles, but you’re now placing yourself in a calming environment, which is crucial. I try and do this at least once a week, as a way to maintain some level of sanity. Wanna get really crazy? Throw on a sheet mask while you’re at it.
- Exercise. As Elle Woods would say, “exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t kill their husbands.” If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll know there’s two things I LOVE to do. One of them is dancing, and the other is running. I’ve danced pretty much my whole life, and it feels like therapy to me. Going to my Wednesday night hip hop classes is something I truly look forward to every week. Not only is it fun, but I feel accomplished knowing that I’m challenging myself to learn new choreo in under an hour, and I feel a sense of accomplishment when I hit it at the end. When it comes to running, I may have exaggerated by saying I love it – I don’t LOVE it. I love how it calms me down. When I run, it forces me to regulate my breathing so that I’m not panting 2 minutes in. I’m someone who gets anxiety and when I feel that pressure in my chest that makes it hard to breathe, I throw on my sneakers and hit the pavement. It gives me no other option than to correct my breathing patterns, and in turn, releases endorphins and a sense of calmness. I haven’t always been a runner, and you don’t need to be a “runner” for this to work for you. I HIGHLY recommend trying it out though.
Any other tips? Send them my way! xo, AJ