Let's be honest: We're addicted to our busy schedules. The everyday grind has become more of a routine than a nuisance, making it impossible to unwind (or at least to find the time to unwind).
But what if becoming a happier, less stressed person was as simple as making it a menial (yet enjoyable) task on your to-do list?
In order to fight off anxieties for good, especially during the approaching holiday season (when they seem to show up the most), we're bringing you a series of simple de-stressing tips throughout the month. Take the challenge to fight stress one day at a time with the calendar below, starting this week with your mind and body. You already make room in your schedule for work and TV shows -- why not add "relax" to that calendar too?
HOW IT WORKS
Take a whiff of coffee. Many of us use it as morning fuel, but just the scent of the caffeinated beverage can help keep our worries at bay. According to a 2008 study, the aroma of coffee beans may stave off stress you're feeling due to certain antioxidants the beans produce.
Snack on some avocado. Whether you prefer eating it with an egg or in guacamole, it's almost impossible not to love this superfood. But there's more to avocados than their savory taste -- they can also bump down those stress levels. Avocados contain monounsaturated fats, which can help lower blood pressure. They even contain more potassium than a banana, which also helps knock down that BP reading.
Sip on some green tea. There's a reason why this beverage is often associated with feeling calm. Green tea contains L-Theanine, an amino acid that may influence your mental state under stress, according to a 2007 study. Additionally, the component may also lower your heart rate. Drink up!
Make your commute to work an active one. Research suggests that swapping that bumper-to-bumper traffic for a bike or your sneakers may boost your mental health. According to one British study, employees felt less stressed at work and were able to concentrate more when they had an active commute. Not in a commuter-friendly city? Make little changes by parking in the back of the lot or taking the stairs. The more movement you get throughout the day, the less stressed you'll feel.
Do a little yoga. Whether you're doing a few anxiety-calming poses at home or taking a class, there's no doubt that the practice can bring some serious relaxation. In fact, studies suggest certain types of the activity -- like laughter yoga -- can lower heart rate variability. And with so many kinds to choose from, you'll never get bored. Namaste.
Go for a walk in the park. Surrounding yourself with a little greenery isn't just aesthetically pleasing, it can also calm your mind. Research suggests walking through nature can be therapeutic for those suffering from anxiety and depression and can even help boost performance on tasks, the Wall Street Journal reported. Make time for a little stroll -- it'll be worth it.
Eat a square (or two) of dark chocolate. Studies show the cocoa in dark chocolate increases nitric oxide in the body, which can help in the process of lowering blood pressure. Research also suggests that eating the sweet treat lowers levels of stress hormone cortisol and may even boost our heart health. Multiple healthy excuses to consume chocolate? Dreams do come true.
Illustrations by Alissa Scheller for The Huffington Post.
This GPS Guide is part of a series of posts designed to bring you back to balance when you're feeling off course.
GPS Guides are our way of showing you what has relieved others' stress in the hopes that you will be able to identify solutions that work for you. We all have de-stressing "secret weapons" that we pull out in times of tension or anxiety, whether they be photos that relax us or make us smile, songs that bring us back to our heart, quotes or poems that create a feeling of harmony or meditative exercises that help us find a sense of silence and calm. We encourage you to visit our other GPS Guides here, and share with us your own personal tips for finding peace, balance and tranquility.