Before even getting out of bed in the morning, most Millennials are bombarded with information. We have unanswered text messages, Facebook notifications, unread emails and news feeds full of articles on war, poverty, patriarchy and climate change.
We are under pressure and over-stimulated. Most of us don’t sleep soundly and almost all of us are in a relentless state of constant digital connectivity. While the Information Age has its benefits, it also has side effects, the number one of which is stress.
Not only is stress horrible for your health, it also leaves most people feeling stuck and uncreative. That lack of inspiration only leads to more stress. It’s a pretty merciless cycle.
If you (like most of us) are feeling overwhelmed by that stress, here are six simple ways to slow down and relax in order to feel calm, creative and content:
1. Space Out
Disorganization, clutter and tight spaces are a part of our daily lives as Millennials. Whether you live in a dorm, a small apartment with multiple roommates or at your parents' home, you probably don’t have a whole lot of space to call your own. This lack of personal territory is stressful and can stifle your creativity.
Without a proper place to work, how can you expect to finish that paper or write the first chapter of your novel? It’s important to have a space that belongs to you, one that isn’t cluttered with a thousand reminders of everything else that is happening in your life.
Find a space (no matter how small) in your house, dorm or apartment that you can keep clean and stress free. This means no bills, no unopened snail mail, no half-folded laundry and no dirty dishes in your sacred space. All you need is a little bit of room and a few things you enjoy to “space out” effectively.
Like the smell of lavender? Put a little lavender candle in your space. Feel calmed by the color green? Buy something green and — you guessed it — put it in your space. Before you know it, you’ll have a personalized sanctuary to call your own, and trust me, you won’t regret it!
Having a space free of stressful triggers will help you stay focused, organized and calm — a combination that is sure to spark your creativity. Go ahead; “space out” a little.
It’s no secret that our generation spends way too much time on the Internet and on our phones. Most of us even fall asleep with our phones in our hands or right next to our heads. While there is no denying the benefits of digital connectivity — networking, staying informed and keeping in touch with loved ones — too much time spent on a device means not enough time spent relaxing and digesting the events of our day.
Take the time -- at least an hour a day -- to turn off your smartphone, unplug your computer and just be with yourself -- alone. Allow yourself to think about the conversations you had, the articles you read and the strangers you saw on your walk home.
So often, when we feel alone, we reach for our phones to text someone, read an email or just scroll through random pictures on Instagram. Instead, try turning off your device to really understand what alone feels like. You might even find that you like it.
This simple daily ritual of unplugging for at least an hour will not only help you feel more comfortable being alone, it will also relax your mind (and your eyes). Give yourself a rest. Unplug and unwind!
3. Write Every Day
Write, even if you’re not a writer and even if you don’t like to write. Even if you think you can’t write and you believe nobody should ever be subjected to your horrible writing, write anyway.
Write when you first wake up in the morning or at night before you go to bed. Write during that hour when you turn off your phone and shut down your computer.
Your brain is festering with thoughts, memories, regrets, hopes, ideas, fears and fantasies. Put a pen to paper and let some of that mess spill out and onto the page. Don’t worry about how it sounds or what you’re writing. Just let it out. The more you write, the more ideas you’ll have and the less cluttered your mind will feel.
4. Just Breathe
Breathing: It sounds simple enough, right? We do it every day, all day, nonstop just to survive. But in step with our fast-paced, high-pressured lives, most of us take short, jagged breaths that can barely carry oxygen from our mouths to the top of our lungs.
Taking the time to savor long, sweet, steady breaths is an essential step in the process of de-stressing. There are a few activities you can do to spark better and more effective breathing.
Yoga offers several other health benefits besides relaxation, including increased flexibility, strength and detoxification. Meditation, while it may never help you do a split, is an underrated ancient tradition that is proven to lower blood pressure, rejuvenate the mind and body, and inspire creativity.
You should set aside a time to mediate or do yoga at least once a week. It doesn’t matter where you do it — in your home, at the gym, outside or in a class — as long as you find a way to squeeze it into your schedule.
5. Do Nothing
It’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to finish that term paper and not immediately move onto the next task. It’s perfectly fine to come home from work and take an hour to unwind, kick back and relax.
Just think, or listen to the sounds around you — whether it’s the traffic outside your apartment in Queens or the birds in the trees at the park.
It’s okay — more than okay, actually. Give yourself time to just be.
Don’t reach for your phone. Don’t grab a snack just to give yourself something to do. Don’t check your calendar and worry about how little time you have left this week. Take a moment. Relax. Think. Imagine. Dream.
6. Go Outside
As animals, we must remember to connect with our natural environments. In simpler terms, we must go outside and play.
Go for a stroll in the park, ride your bike down the street or even just step outside and look up at that big, beautiful sky. Breathe fresh air. If you can, go take a hike somewhere magnificent or swim in a body of natural water.
Cleanse yourself in the wonders of our amazing planet, even if you can only go as far as your own backyard.
Find some way to connect with nature and then do it every day. Yes, even in the winter, when there’s ice on the ground and slush in the streets. Bundle up, put on your boots and plunge out into the sharp, cold air.
Photo Courtesy: Fanpop