Understatement of 2017: There’s a lot happening in the world right now.
Have you already fallen off your New Year’s resolution plans? Found yourself going through something stressful in your relationship? Tough time at work? Or are you just generally stressed out because, well, there are things to be stressed about right now?
Regardless of what’s got you feeling like 2017 is one big test (I’ve been using #2017IsTestingUs lately), the reality is there’s always going to be something to push us a bit out of our comfort zone, and we all need to take care of ourselves if we want to make it through.
Last weekend, I met up with a friend for a lovely brunch and play at a local theater. I was in an Uber and running late when one of my best friends called and kept pushing me to talk about something that I just didn’t have the energy to go into. I blew up in a pretty irrational moment — not quite as intense as Kristen Wiig’s freakout at the bridal shower in “Bridesmaids,” but still bad. Like the kind where you hang up and ask yourself “What did I just do, and why did I do that?!” The kind where you have to call back, swallow your pride and say “I’m sorry, I love you, thank you for being my friend.” When I hung up the second time, I realized I was pretty wound up and not really acting like myself, but I had let myself get there. I had a lot on my mind and needed to chill the bleep out.
For context, I’m usually a calm person and pretty good about carving out some “Kirby time” throughout the week, whether it’s squeezing in a few yoga poses beside my bed in the morning or making breakfast and eating it intentionally. But I had a lot on my mind and I was clearly pretty stressed and wound up.
After the play — which, considering my mood, was appropriately called “I Wanna F—ing Tear You Apart” (I think it was a sign) — I decided I needed an evening workout to just sweat it out. So that night, I did all the things that bring me to my personal “happy place”: I did the elliptical and immersed myself in my high-intensity playlist. I ordered my fave Thai dish (pad woon sen), with some extra veggies on the side and I foam rolled and rolled and rolled, while listening to some more calm tunes and then took a looooong bath with epsom salts and lavender essential oil. And finally, I drank a lil mint tea with lemon and ginger before bed. (I should literally relax from within, too, right?) Honestly, with each activity, I felt myself calming down. It was exactly what I needed.
So maybe you didn’t bite your friend’s head off like I did, but maybe you’ve neglected your New Year’s resolution and are pretty bummed about it. If so, you aren’t alone. Only 8% of people actually succeed at a New Year’s ressie. On top of that, over 50% of Americans resolve to either lose weight/eat healthier/make self improvements or work out more often — so that means while you might feel alone when you fail, there are actually droves of people like you who want to step up their health and fitness game each year and are failing, which can be very frustrating. Or maybe you are just overwhelmed right now. No matter what’s stressing you out, here are some quick tips if you find yourself needing a lil “me time”:
Personally, I’m a huge fan of intense hikes, but even a simple walk in the great outdoors can do the trick to fight stress and improve your mental well-being. A study found that something as simple as walking outside can help improve the mood of someone who has recently experienced a traumatic event, like a serious illness, death of a loved one or divorce. So if you need a pick-me-up, lace up your sneakers and get outside.
While going to get a massage is a nice treat (and I love a good massage), sometimes it’s just not practical. My self-massage routine involves a foam roller that I keep in front of the TV, so I use it all the time while catching up “Homeland” or “Being Mary Jane.” If you haven’t foam rolled before, check this out!
Yoga always melts me into a nice mellow being. Last month, I tried something new and took a yoga class with Liz Arch, who taught us her practice of Primal Yoga. It’s described as “dynamic yoga and martial arts fusion style that merges Vinyasa yoga with the artistry of Kung Fu and the grace of Tai Chi into an athletic, heat-building flow, while focusing on alignment, balance, strength, power, and flexibility.”
And it’s every bit as unique as it sounds! In the class, Liz guided us through familiar yoga poses with a twist: at one point midpractice, she had us ball up one fist and use it to beat against our bodies. It sounds bizarre, but it felt great.
This is probably the easiest one on the list. Growing up, my mom always reminded me “it doesn’t cost anything to be nice to people.” So why don’t we do it more often?! You already know this, but it’s good to be reminded. When you do something nice for someone, whether it’s a compliment or volunteering your time, it can instantly make you feel better, so give it a try. If you like a random stranger’s leopard print booties, compliment them. Smile more. Let that car merge ahead of you. Their happiness and appreciation can help to pick you both up that day, even if just for a moment. Plus, kindness is actually good for your heart too!
Do what you love doing, whether that’s reading a good book, meditation, yoga, catching up with a friend that you haven’t connected with in awhile or some time journaling. Only you know what takes you to your personal happy space.
So carve out some you time.
If you are feeling great, more power to you! That’s awesome and I’m happy for you (insert praise hands emoji)! If not, I hope these tips help!
I’m curious. What do you do to stay sane in times of high stress? Feel free to post in the comments below.
Better Than Ever
We all strive for wellness and to live better! Every month, this column will bring you advice on how to feel and perform Better Than Ever. Check out tips to improve various aspects of your health: everything from fitness, nutrition, sleep and recovery. Have a topic you want to hear about? Feel free to reach out here (I’ll be checking the comments!) or on Twitter or Instagram. I look forward to hearing from you!