My 4 Never-Fail Stress Relief Methods

Hello, everyone and HAPPY SPRING! 

The sun is out, the flowers are blooming, and I couldn’t be happier for the new season. However, it seems like our lives have never been busier! Anybody else feel this way? With work, school, pets, kids, friends, husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, chores, errands, hobbies you want to try, bills you have to pay, deadlines you have to meet, dresses you want to fit into–UGH! It can all be too much sometimes. And you deserve to take care of yourself. I like to think of my self-care time as rewarding my body and mind for all that it does for me 24/7.

So let’s talk about it for a second. STRESS. Everyone experiences it and the ways to relieve it are so personal and varied, but I wanted to give you an insight on my own tried and true methods.

  1. Burning Incense

    • I always connected incense to acts of praise in churches or to create an atmosphere in a yoga studio or spa, but never researched the benefits behind the burning. Similar to essential oils, certain scents have their own benefit. Did you know to relieve stress, sandalwood and cedarwood are great because they both reduce your heart rate and sooth nerves? Who knew? Now you do. If you’re looking for some accessible and affordable ($1.99 at my local Fred Meyer) incense sticks to start out with, check out these by GONESH that I have been loving.

2. Tea

    • I’m not sure what all I can write here to convince you guys that this really helps me in lifting my mood and will benefit you as well. I think it’s the same reason that we crave warm soup when we’re sick and why we live for those moments wrapping ourselves in a blanket straight out of the dryer–because warmth is that comfort. I love this particular one from the brand Yogi because it’s yummy (nobody likes those diluted teas, am I right?), but also because of how the blend of lavender and honey make me feel. Lavender is known to reduce stress and anxiety and even improve sleep and brain function. What else can you ask of your tea?

3. Meditate & Practicing Affirmations

  • I cannot even begin to express the ways in which meditation has saved my soul. I mean every word of that. I had always heard about it and skeptically always brushed it off. Where have I been? Not meditating and being miserable, that’s where. That may be a slight exaggeration, but you follow me. Who knew that sitting still in silence and being present would help relieve so much stress?
  • The other part of this method of stress-relief involves the affirmations. I began to experiment with these when I watched The Secret a few years back. However, practicing 5-10 min of affirmations at the beginning of my day is almost essential for me now. Sometimes I practice affirmations in place of meditation if I’m running behind. Regardless, I love this time to say these affirming statements of self-love, awareness, and optimism because they make me feel as though what I’m saying is practically reality. The statements go from being desires and thoughts to strong statements in the sound of your own voice. There’s something very profound in that. Here are some of my favorites that I constantly go back to.
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  • 4. Art Therapy

    • This is actually a thing guys. Let me give you a bit of necessary tidbits; creative expression can be achieved through some therapeutic and creative activities, it helps with reducing stress and anxiety, and provides a meditative state in which you really have no choice but to participate in. I love how this article about the benefits of art therapy put it–“Unplugging from technology promotes creation over consumption.” I have always been a creative, so when I don’t work with my hands on something colorful like sketching or even ripping my favorite pages from a magazine for a mood board, I basically lose my marbles. I got this ‘adult’ coloring book a while ago and have been immersed in it recently. So much so, that hours go by and I am so consumed by what I am working on that I don’t even notice. I really love this method of stress-relief because there is a beautiful and colorful result at the end, and because I am so concentrated on the colors I am choosing and how it’s all looking. Honestly, I have no choice but to be the most present that I can be and all other worries naturally fall to the wayside.  Check out the progress I have made on this piece!

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I very much sincerely hope that you found these helpful and that you find yourself inspired to implement any–or all!–of these methods into your lifestyle. Leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts!

Until the next post,

Mel

Surviving the Bikini Series: Week 1 Recap

Image result for tone it up bikini series 2017

To obtain more info on this plan, click here. Also, I am not recommending a fitness routine or diet to you without the suggestion of double checking with your health practitioner.

I have always struggled with my weight. When I got “diagnosed” with Scoliosis in 2004, I started working out. Hard. I felt that it was somehow my fault for my spine turning into an “S” curve instead of developing perfect and straight like it should. I was so hard on myself. Flash forward to today, working at a desk for the first time in my life. 8+ hours sitting down at work and then going home, or my local Starbucks, to blog or study was not helping my posture, figure, and overall health. Not only that, but I was also noticing a change in my creativity and attitude. I was more irritable, prone to start meaningless fights with those around me, fatigued, and, to my extreme surprise-super inflexible. In my first years of college, I started practicing yoga, pilates, and Zumba. A few weeks before the Bikini Series started, I attended an event at my local hot yoga studio and was, quite frankly, sad and disappointed in myself that I was in pain and could not obtain the poses like I once could.

Keep in mind, I’m only 26. I was journaling one evening and started to write down my frustrations on paper. Then, right beneath that, I wrote out questions to myself to see if I could be honest with myself. They were questions like “How do you want to feel?”, “What foods do you notice make you feel fatigued, bloated, or overall, really unhealthy and sluggish?”.

That brought some clarity and perspective. Then, I saw Karena and Katrina’s post on Instagram about the 2017 Bikini Series. Crap. Again, already? Keep in mind that I have followed K+K, founders of the crazy popular and successful, Tone It Up brand, since about 2014. Working out for free via their YouTube videos here and trying a recipe there, I realized they had always helped me feel great. Clean. Lean.

Naturally, I became a member, bought the Nutrition Plan and signed up for the 2017 Bikini Series. I sought out other “#TIUGirls” in my area, or that I found extraordinarily inspirational, on Instagram and simply committed to myself. I had to tell myself that. I am doing this for you and  your benefit only. I want to share my journey with you all in the hopes that one girl out there may find a bit of inspiration to begin her own journey to an overall healthier lifestyle.

There are 8 weeks total. This is the recap of my first one.

Monday | Crap. I missed my first Booty Call (the AM workout you do as soon as you get up). No worries, I will make it up later. I had meal-prepped the night before (THANK GOODNESS FOR THIS!), so I essentially had my meals figured out for the week. I will tell you that this is KEY and a habit I hope to retain for years to come. It really takes the stress out of finding proper-yet really damn good-nutrition for the week. I did the 5 Daily Moves and the 20 minutes of cardio that were on the TIU Weekly Work-Out Schedule and felt AMAZING. I did start the week with a bit of a cold and was not feeling a workout at all , but I remembered the heart-to-heart I had with myself and felt so compelled to fulfill the commitment. I did it. I felt damn good.

Example of next week’s nutrition plan!

 

Tuesday | Woke up feeling pretty great. Groggy from cold medicine, but no upset stomach, no fatigue. Worked out.

Wednesday | Feeling even better today. Went for an after-work walk with my lovely friend Julie and her dogs. According to her Fit Bit, we completely over 7,000 steps. It was a long walk; 70 minutes or so.

Thursday | Still sticking to my Tone It Up Nutrition Plan for the Bikini Series and noticing my taste buds changing. I felt satisfied and full after consuming much smaller portions.

Friday | Slipped a bit today due to a brand representative bringing us lunch at work. I had stayed up pretty late Thursday night studying and reading, so the last meal for the work week that I had planned on was not prepped. To top it all off, I was running to late to work this AM, so I ended up eating half of an Italian sandwich from Jimmy John’s, a dill pickle (guilty pleasure!) and a water. I am proud to say this was my only “slip-up” the whole week!

Saturday | I am feeling really…”happy”. I can feel that my joints have better range of motion, my muscles are feeling tight and a little sore–which I don’t mind–, and I am feeling more me.

Sunday | Reflecting on my first week, I can say that I am really proud of myself. I am feeling so grateful for life, health and the opportunity to decide to change something I don’t like, and the wisdom to realize it will take continued discipline, inspiration, and perspiration 😉

If you are reading this post and can relate to ANY  part of this, I want to tell you that I am with you. I am here to listen to your doubts and to tell you that you need to get over your fear and just. freaking. do. it. 

XOXO,

M