Has stress overtaken your days? Here are my top 13 stress-reducing rituals to feel calm.
Stress is a hard state to be in. You feel out of control. And bringing yourself back to calm waters can feel impossible. One stressful day feels like an eternity.
As you grapple with your responsibilities, that painful breakup, the worry of losing a job, making your next bill, or the next presentation you have to give at school. You want to give up. But you know you’re not.
Life is challenging if you don’t know how to manage, reduce, or cope with stress. Knowing your stress triggers and setting up calming rituals will soften the blow.
There is one good thing despite it all, though.
You have insurmountable amounts of determination, love, care, and wisdom.
You just need to know the most effective stress-reducing rituals to aid you through your hardships, struggles, and stressful moments.
But before we begin, let’s break down stress:
Stress is a feeling of overwhelm. Symptoms can include tension, anxiety, increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, fear, or nervousness. Basically, we feel that we are incapable of handling an external situation.
You’ve probably heard of cortisol, our stress hormone. When our bodies perceive a potential threat, cortisol is released into the bloodstream and activates the sympathetic nervous system, our flight or fight response system.
We want to lower our cortisol levels and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, the system in charge of restoring the body to a state of calm and balance.
What are common signs of stress?
Stress can take many forms. We can have mental stress, emotional stress, physical stress, or all three.
Everyone’s stress manifests differently but look out for prolonged muscle aches and pains, hair loss, belly bloating and digestive issues, throat blockages, tension headaches, emotional eating, and unexplained weight loss or weight gain.
Benefits of lowering stress:
Taking the initiative to lower your stress levels is an all-around win-win situation.
- Live longer
- Sleep better
- Have increased confidence
- Become more resilient
- Improve your well-being
So whether you are gearing up for a stressful exam, feeling overwhelmed at work, or enduring a challenging life situation, here are my top 13 stress-relieving rituals to naturally reduce stress and instantly soothe yourself.
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1. Go For a Walk in Nature
Walking outdoors is a low-maintenance stress-reducing ritual. You learn to focus on the present moment, connect with nature, and enjoy mother earth’s beautiful synchronicities. If you feel excited about walking outdoors, try earthing (walking barefoot).
2. Taking a Bath is the Easiest Stress-Reducing Ritual
Bath rituals are the best way to instantly relax!
Fun fact: Bathing was a religious ritual for wealthy people in ancient times. And was a public, social activity. Over time it became a private ritual. So if you think about it, bathing is like a spiritual cleanse. It can benefit your emotional, mental, and physical well-being. Truly a mind, body, and soul activity.
Grab infused bath salts at your local drugstore or Amazon it. You can get fancy and whip up your own. Try tea leaves, flowers, fresh herbs, essential oils, salt, baking soda, bath bombs, or bubbles. So set out 30 minutes a week and pamper your fancy self! The sky is the limit.
3. Journaling to Help Slow Down and Feel Calm
Journaling is a great way to relieve stress and improve your mood. If you don’t have a friend to rant about your day with, journaling is a helpful tool to connect with yourself and let out your stress.
Different ways to journal include:
- Creative problem-solving
- Dream journaling
- Food journaling
- Weight loss journaling
- Personal diary
- Meditative stream of consciousness journaling
If you haven’t gotten into journaling. Try it! You’ll find that maybe you express yourself better with pen and paper.
4. Meditate to Clear Negative Thoughts and Worry
Meditation is like exercise for the mind and is the best way to calm your nervous system and reduce stress. A quick 5 to 10-minute daily practice is highly beneficial for everyone. When you get into a consistent routine, your mind will crave meditation like when your body craves a sweat session.
Meditation does wonders for your mind and spirit. It calms you; you’ll become aware of your thoughts and learn to live in the present moment. If you are interested, here is my complete guide to meditation.
5. Pranayama the Ultimate Stress-Reducing Ritual
Pranayama is one of the best ways to relax deeply. I consider breathing exercises meditation’s significant other. They go hand in hand. Most of us don’t breathe correctly, or rather, we are not getting the full benefits of our breath.
Pranayama is the most affordable way to help control, cleanse, and elevate your mood. It’s free! So if you haven’t gotten on the pranayama bandwagon. Go! Now is the time.
6. Cook Your Favorite Nostalgic Meal
For some people cooking is a stressful activity, and for some, it brings much peace and solitude. So this tip does depend on who you are. If you find it brings you peace, set out a day to cook your favorite meal. Why not indulge yourself?
Take the pressure off yourself. It doesn’t have to taste good or look good. Sauteed the garlic and onions and crack open a bottle of wine. Forget about what’s going on in the world. Forget about what’s going on in your life. Forget about the day. Let go of your mind, stay present and enjoy the sensual pleasure of cooking. Bon appetite!
7. Get Creative and Create
Creating art is healing, therapeutic, and a calming, stress-reducing ritual. Whether it’s performing arts or visual arts, you’ll have space to express who you are without judgment. You want to rage. Release it. You want to cry. Express it. You want to jump around free like a 5-year-old. Let loose and zen out.
Tapping into your creative genius is a surefire way to channel stress. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron is the perfect starting point if you don’t know how to begin your creative journey. It’s a spiritual self-help book that will help you unlock your creative genius. Countless working artists and hobbyists alike have praised this system over and over. It will change your life! It changed mine.
You might also like: The Artist’s Way: 3 Life-changing Things I Learned
We all know at this point that exercise is good for you. But I’ll do the honor of being a broken record if you’ll do the honor of reading.
Exercise elevates your mood thanks to the feel-good hormones that are released post-workout. So if you are feeling stressed, pick an exercise you enjoy doing. Go for a walk in nature, run a 5k, do yoga, head to a kickboxing class, or head to the gym and pump some iron.
You might also like: How to Kickstart a Workout Routine for Beginners
9. Get Adequate Sleep
Did you know sleep is the number one mood regulator. Under stress, some of us have trouble sleeping. Our minds are constantly racing, which adds to the frustration. But if you are determined, try getting on a consistent sleep schedule if you aren’t already.
A consistent sleep schedule can do wonders for your physical and mental well-being. Our bodies are healing, restoring, and regenerating while we sleep. So get yourself some REM.
You might also like: How to Get into a Consistent Sleep Routine
10. Moon Bathe or Sunbathe
We all know that a little bit of sun is good for you, especially during the harsh winters when sunlight is scarce. Most people are walking around with vitamin D deficiencies and suffering from seasonal affective disorder (winter depression caused by a lack of vitamin D.)
But we often forget about our queen nurturer, the moon. Did you know that moon bathing is a real thing and has profound healing effects. It’s an ancient ritual popularized by India’s beloved Ayurveda (an ancient Indian natural medicine healing system.) If you want to learn more. Check out this article.
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11. Have a Stress-Reducing Self-Care Day
Girl, go ahead and set the mood and turn on your favorite relaxing music. Light up some candles, incense, or essential oils
and treat yourself to a DIY at-home day spa.
Get your skincare routine on and give yourself a hair mask, a face mask, and a foot mask. Try dry brushing, then lather up that luxurious oil and give yourself a massage. Revel in self-acupressure or reiki. Because why not?
12. Take Yourself on an Artist Date
Solo time does wonders for the soul and can bring you much-needed tranquility. I learned about this ritual from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Pick half a day or a full day and spend time with yourself. No one is allowed on this date. It is a date with yourself.
Head out to a museum, go hiking, take yourself out to dinner, or walk around your city. It’s a centering activity and a gift to your spirit. You can use this time to process the source of your stress and reflect on your life overall. Become your best friend, your number one cheerleader, and the best mom to your inner child.
13. Chat With a Supportive Friend
An emotionally supportive friend who is consistent and is with you through the highs and lows of life adds to the happiness of life, doesn’t it. There’s nothing like it.
Schedule a time to chat and talk it out. Blow off some steam and process the cause of your stress. Just remember to return the favor. What are friends for, really.
Closing Thoughts on Stress-Reducing Rituals to Feel Calm
We all encounter stress at some point in our lives.
More responsibilities, more stress. More ambition, more stress. More money, more problems. (I had to add the Biggie quote.) Learning how to cope with stress is a valuable life skill.
Taking ownership of all parts of ourselves is a rewarding journey, and learning how to care for ourselves is an action towards self-love. Instead of coping with food, substances, or retail therapy, try out these natural and free ways to reduce stress, relax, and feel calm. If you’re not used to slowing down, it feels weird at first but trust me; you’ll get addicted.