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During this unprecedented time, it’s normal to feel anxious. With people losing their jobs, confined to their homes, and living in fear of an invisible foe, there are ample reasons to feel scared or depressed. You’re human, after all.

But you don’t have to let those feelings control you. I suggest giving yourself a healthy distraction or two—something to temporary alleviate the tension in your shoulders and the panicked thoughts swirling through your mind. Some distractions, of course, are harmful, but they certainly don’t have to be.

As Amy Cuddy says, don’t “fake it ‘til you make it,” fake it ‘til you feel it. If you practice stress-relieving techniques with some regularity, eventually you will genuinely feel less stressed.

Here are 16 ideas for you to try:

1. Pick up gardening

Taking care of something will help take the focus off yourself. Plus, gardening requires regular time and attention in a quiet setting—a perfect hobby for anyone looking for more serenity.

2. Journal

Buy a fancy notebook that you’ll enjoy opening, and start writing! Don’t edit as you go, just write and see what comes out. If you want to try journaling about the things you are grateful for, you could do that, but if you simply want to release your thoughts, that’s fine too. Do whatever fits YOU!

3. Meditate

If you’ve never practiced meditation before, you might start with a user-friendly app, like Headspace.

4. Pick up your instrument!

If you’re feeling really ambitious (or bored!), you might pick up a new instrument, but if you simply want a bit of a distraction and a healthy release, try dusting off your old instrument and start to play. Did you take piano lessons as a kid? Or learn the guitar at one point? You might have fun tinkering around with these instruments once more (and it’s certainly a good distraction).

5. Walk or hike

Whether in your neighborhood or on a trail, walking is good for the body and soul. Just be careful to avoid over-crowded locales.

6. Crack open an adult coloring book

This was all the rage five years ago, but who on earth had time to sit down and color back then?? Now is the time to open an adult coloring book, sharpen your color pencils, and relax as the colors flow.

7. Tour a museum…virtually!

Many museums, including the Louvre, the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, and the Van Gogh Museum are offering free virtual tours right now. Google Arts & Culture also offers several interactive displays and art info. Instead of sitting down for yet another TV marathon, try viewing some paintings or a sparkling collection of gemstones instead.

8. Watch Some Good News

John Krasinski (famous for playing Jim Halpert in the Office) now has a YouTube channel called Some Good News. In his videos, he highlights the week’s joyful news, interviews celebrities, and goes out of his way to make the day of everyday people (i.e., in one episode he hosted a virtual prom). Find his videos HERE.

9. Paint rocks

You don’t have to be terribly talented to paint rocks with all kinds of cheerful colors and place them around the neighborhood. Paint ladybugs, flowers, or just brightly colored polka dots, and place your painted rocks on neighbor’s front steps or along the sidewalk.

10. Pull out your cookbooks

If you’re like me, you probably have dozens of recipes you marked in a cookbook (or on Pinterest) that you never actually got around to making. Now’s the time! Try something new and be daring—who cares if you mess up?

A few other quick ideas:

11. Do some exercises or yoga on a mat

12. Buy some sidewalk chalk, color your sidewalk, then leave it at your front steps for others to enjoy

13. Organize your junk drawers

14. Sing! Sing on your walks, sing in the shower, just sing.

15. Listen to an audio book

16. Try your hand at quilting, sewing, or knitting

You CAN get through this. Occupy your time with a few healthy activities, and discover what a difference it can make in your life. You’ve got this.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
NOW 50% off: MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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The holidays are upon us and life can easily turn hectic. The stress of maintaining a satisfactory work-life balance has the tendency to amplify during the holidays. Whether you’re rushing to meet end-of-the-year deadlines, plan holiday parties, find (and pay for!) gifts, or prep your family for an out-of-town trip, it’s easy to feel as tightly wound as wrapping paper around a present.

All of this stress is a shame, because the holidays should be a joyous, relaxed time that we spend with close friends and family members. How can you rediscover holiday cheer and find some inner calm? Try a few of these 20 quick tips:

1. Breathe deeply

The steady rhythm of your breath has a calming effect on the mind, much like any repetitive, soothing sound or motion.

2. Eat a healthy lunch

According to Dr. Pat Bass, a healthy diet is an essential element to combating stress.

3. Exercise

Find something that works for YOU and practice it regularly!

4. Relax your mind

Do a crossword puzzle, squeeze a stress ball, paint a picture, doodle in your notebook.

5. Practice yoga/mindfulness

Yoga helps you focus on the ebb and flow of your breath and also releases the tension in your muscles.

6. Schedule “you time”

Write it on the calendar! Set aside some time to do exactly what you want to do.

7. Schedule family time

Be present for your loved ones.

>>Read about three ways to truly live in the moment.

8. Walk outside

Vitamin D is essential for your skin and just being in the outdoors has a revitalizing, rejuvenating effect.

9. Laugh

Laughter reduces stress, according to the Mayo Clinic. Watch a funny movie, read the comics, or go to a comedy show.

10. Be present

Focus on the here and now instead of getting stressed about the future or regretting something in the past. My book, The Ten-Minute Leadership Challenge, devotes an entire chapter to this concept.

11. Network/reconnect with friends/find your support group

We all need a support group. If you have close friends in the area, make an effort to reach out to them from time to time. If not, find a supportive community through meet-up groups, your local community center, or continuing education classes.

12. Indulge in your interests

Do you like to knit? Paint? Practice Tae Kwon Do? Work your interests into your schedule.

13. Massage

Everyone loves a professional massage, but if you’re short on time or don’t want to spend the money, give yourself a hand massage or shoulder rub.

14. Listen to music

“Music calms the savage beast” and it can also reduce tension. Pick your favorite genre and let Pandora find the perfect music mix for you.

15. Practice gratitude

As I mentioned in my November newsletter, a grateful person is generally a happier, more optimistic person.

16. Count/recite a mantra

The rhythm of counting or reciting a mantra can help calm your mind. Additionally, a positive mantra (i.e. “I can do anything,” “I am smart and strong,” or “Nothing can get in my way”) can give you an added confidence boost.

17. Close your eyes

Sometimes closing your eyes is a good way to distance yourself from your troubles. It also helps you focus on your thoughts without letting visual distractions get in the way.

18. Get organized

A neat and tidy desk or house can help focus your thoughts. Too much clutter can lead to feelings of anxiety and stress.

19. Free write

Get your thoughts down on paper. Write whatever comes to mind if you’re feeling overwhelmed and want to sort through a complex issue.

20. Plan a vacation

Even if you don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon, it’s fun to plan a future vacation. It also gives you something to work towards—a long term reward.

 

Isn’t it time to relax and enjoy the holidays? Take a deep breath and get started with creating a calm, rejuvenating holiday season!

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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UXL stress busting tips

It’s the holiday season and things can get hectic. Take a bite out of stress! Here are some quick practices to help you relax and revitalize:

  1. Breathe deeply

The steady rhythm of your breath has a calming effect on the mind, much like any repetitive, soothing sound or motion.

 

  1. Eat a healthy lunch

According to Dr. Pat Bass, a healthy diet is an essential element to combating stress.

 

  1. Exercise

Find something that works for YOU and practice it regularly!

 

  1. Mind relaxers

Do a crossword puzzle, squeeze a stress ball, paint a picture, doodle in your notebook.

 

  1. Yoga/mindfulness

Yoga helps you focus on the ebb and flow of your breath, as well as releasing the tension in your muscles

Yoga business woman

 

  1. Schedule “you time”

Write it on the calendar! Set aside some time to do exactly what you want to do.

 

  1. Schedule family time

According to the Mental Health Foundation, “A key way to protect your mental health against the potential detrimental effects of work related stress is to ensure you have a healthy work-life balance.”

 

  1. Walk outside

Vitamin D is essential for your skin and just being in the outdoors has a revitalizing, rejuvenating effect

 

  1. Laugh

Laughter reduces stress, according to the Mayo Clinic. Watch a funny movie, read the comics, or go to a comedy show.

 

  1. Be present

Focus on the here and now instead of getting stressed about the future or regretting something in the past. My book, The Ten-Minute Leadership Challenge, devotes an entire chapter to this concept.

reconnect with old friends

 

  1. Network/reconnect with friends/find your support group

We all need a support group. If you have close friends in the area, make an effort to reach out to them from time to time. If not, find a supportive community through meet-up groups, your local community center, etc. My last newsletter on Building Community discusses this topic in-depth.

 

  1. Indulge in your interests

Do you like to knit? Paint? Practice Tae Kwon Do? Work your interests into your schedule

 

  1. Massage

Everyone loves a professional massage, but if you’re short on time or don’t want to spend the money, give yourself a hand massage or shoulder rub.

 

  1. Listen to music

“Music calms the savage beast” and it can also reduce tension. Pick your favorite genre and let Pandora find the perfect music mix for you.

 

  1. Practice gratitude

As I mentioned in my November newsletter, a grateful person is generally a happier, more optimistic person.

practice gratitude, UXL

 

  1. Count/recite a mantra

The rhythm of counting or reciting a mantra can help calm your mind. Additionally, a positive mantra (i.e. “I can do anything,” “I am smart and strong,” or “Nothing can get in my way”) can give you an added confidence boost.

 

  1. Close your eyes

Sometimes closing your eyes is a good way to distance yourself from your troubles. It also helps you focus on your thoughts without letting visual distractions get in the way.

 

  1. Get organized

A neat and tidy desk or house can help focus your thoughts. Too much clutter can lead to feelings of anxiety and stress.

 

  1. Free write

Get your thoughts down on paper. Write whatever comes to mind if you’re feeling overwhelmed and want to sort through a complex issue.

 

  1. Plan a vacation

Even if you don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon, it’s fun to plan a future vacation. It also gives you something to work towards—a long term reward.

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