It’s hard not to be a workaholic these days. The days of spending your whole life with one company are more or less done and gone, and young people building their careers will be bouncing around more and more jobs and doing much more to build their resume than ever before. That carries an extra burden of stress, however, and coupled with other external factors like rising divorce rates, a divisive political climate, and endless news about climate change, we are probably more stressed than any other generation before us. The harmful effects of stress on health are well-documented, so it’s important to find ways to keep stress under control without interfering with important daily tasks and activities.
Meditation is the very definition of easy to learn, hard to master. If it’s not your cup of tea, that’s totally fine, but it has gained an impressive following for a reason: sometimes all you need to do is close your eyes, take a deep breath, and forget about everything except what’s right in front of you for a few moments. Even simply controlling your breathing can have health benefits of its own.
2. Take a Nap
Naps are good. Sleep is one of the best things you can do for your body. It’s obviously important not to overdo it, but a quick 15 or 20-minute nap in the middle of the day, perhaps after lunch, has been shown to boost productivity and mental function as well.
3. Try an Herbal Drink
It’s easier than ever to find liquified herbs for a dazzling array of uses from companies like Herb Pharm and others, so if you’re feeling stressed out, go ahead and make yourself a cup of caffeine-free tea, throw in a few drops of your favorite herbal extract, and relax and daydream while you sip your brew. Chamomile is especially popular for relaxation and as a sleep aid.
4. Play an Instrument
Fair warning: learning to play an instrument is not a good way to relax. It requires a lot of hard work and dedication, plus some frustration on the side, in order to become a musical expert. But if you’ve already got some musical chops, sitting down and playing a few lines can be a great way to forget about your worries. The focus required to play is similar to meditation but with the added reward of producing something pleasing to your ear.
5. Listen to Music
If you can’t play an instrument, that’s okay. Just grab some earbuds or a pair of headphones, find a comfortable chair or couch, close your eyes, and put on some relaxing music. A slow tempo can help you reduce your heartbeat and the pacing of your breathing, and it gives you an excuse to lie down and close your eyes without thinking about all of the mistakes you’ve made in your life.
6. Read a Book
Reading can dramatically decrease your stress levels and will improve your health in other ways as well, in addition to making you smarter. It’s quiet and can even function as a benign form of escapism, letting you focus on another character or story instead of your own worries.