Feeling stressed, burnt out, and overwhelmed? You’re not alone. Women consistently report higher stress levels than men, resulting in a “stress gap” that leaves many women feeling drained and depleted. Not to mention looking for stress relief wherever they can find it.
It isn’t possible to eliminate 100% of stress; even with the best self-care practices, you will eventually have to deal with a broken plate on the floor, hurtful comment, or other stressful situation. But by taking a mindful approach, you can reduce stress and embrace it as an opportunity to check in with yourself and make healthy adjustments to your priorities and relationships.
What is stress?
Stress isn’t inherently good or bad – it’s simply your body’s response to change or strain.
In manageable doses, stress can help you focus, perform, and problem solve. However, when left unchecked, stress symptoms can range from emotional (overwhelm, lashing out, withdrawal, irritability, etc.) to physical (increased heart rate, exhaustion, insomnia, and more).
Here are Three Stress Relief Tips for Women
to Manage & Even BFF Your Stress:
1. Tune into your body.
As you read this, take a moment to unclench your jaw. Inhale one deep breath through your nose, and feel your chest gently rise. Now exhale through your mouth.
Doesn’t that feel better already?
When you’re stressed out, it’s easy to disconnect from your body. Take a few moments to perform a body scan to check in with how you’re feeling physically in the present moment.
Notice whether there are any knots in your stomach. Is your breathing deep or shallow? Do you feel any tightness in your hips or neck? Are your shoulders hunching towards your ears? Practice observing these body responses without any judgement.
Once you finish this mental scan of your body, think about what activities would help you feel more relaxed in this moment. Even tiny actions like stretching at your desk, taking five deep breaths, or walking around your living room for 30 seconds can relieve stress and shift your energy.
2. Question your stressors.
When a situation is causing stress, ask yourself: “Do I have the power to change this?”
If the answer is yes, let your mind wander towards solutions that would alleviate the stressors: Do you need to have a difficult conversation with your boss? Is it time to set a boundary with the friend who calls you every night to complain about her problems? While these solutions may not seem relaxing in the moment, they can pave the way for a more peaceful future.
When stressful situations are truly out of your control, think about how you can find creative ways to accept the circumstances and put your own unique spin on them.
You can’t control the traffic during rush hour, but you can listen to positive podcasts during your drive to make the commute feel more nourishing. You can’t change the thunderstorm on your wedding day, but you can find a cute bridal umbrella and snag some unforgettable photos in the rain.
When you release your grip on trying to control the uncontrollable and start to accept the current moment as it is, even with all its imperfections, your tension will start to dissipate.
3. Make a “stress relief” list
Create a unique list of activities that bring peace to your life – your own “secret sauce” of ideas to help you maintain a positive spirit. Include any activities that you love but don’t always have time to practice.
Here are a few ideas for your list:
- Journaling, meditating, coloring, or prayer
- Spending time in places like your garden, your favorite coffee shop, or your bathtub
- Running, yoga, dance, or kickboxing
- Calling a positive friend or family member
When you create this list ahead of time, you release yourself from the pressure to come up with stress relief activities in the heat of the moment. The next time you start to feel waves of stress kicking in, focus on one of the activities from your list for 15-30 minutes (or more!).
Even with these coping strategies, there will be some days when you still feel stressed out. Make peace with that now, and forgive yourself for being a living, breathing, vibrant person who has fluctuating needs and emotions.
Your self-care journey will evolve over time, and by consistently practicing these three strategies you will strengthen your ability to manage, alleviate, and bounce back from any stress that comes your way.
If these stress relief tips for women pique your interest, you’ll find even more stress relief ideas specifically for women in the Self-Care App for Women, Sanity & Self.
Sanity & Self is the premier self-care app for women with over 50,000 5-star reviews. From bite-sized guided audio sessions (like the “BFF Your Stress” series), to guided meditations and journaling, to a supportive in-app community of women, Sanity & Self makes self-care easy, effective, and fun while fitting into your busy schedule. Download the app here to begin your self-care journey.
Originally written by Kelsey Horton and published on Sanity & Self October 30, 2019.