Calm Thyself! 5 Ways to De-Stress When You Don’t Have Time to Relax

Auditions, final exams, holidays, travel, performances, parties…December is one of those months where everything seems to happen all at once. Times like these usually come with higher levels of stress, and unfortunately that may also mean you feel like you have less time for self-care.

All that business doesn’t have to keep you from lowering your anxiety, though! Here are 5 ways you can de-stress, even when you think you don’t have the time.

1. Gratitude

Nothing stops dread and doom faster than realizing the immediate situation is temporary compared to all of the great things you have in your life.

If you find it hard to go into gratitude mode when you are already feeling stressed out, take some time when you’re feeling good to make yourself a list of things for which you are grateful.

Keep the list with you in your purse or wallet (or on your phone) so you can look at it when you start to run into negative thoughts.

2. Breathing

I know, everybody says this. It’s true, though, and there are many different ways to use the breath to calm your mind (and lower your heartrate and blood pressure).

So if one way doesn’t do it for you, try another. Try three or four different breath exercises. Alternate nostril breathing, number counting breathing, breathing with progressive relaxation – do some searching and see which ones appeal to you.

3. Living to your fullest potential in the moment

It sounds obvious, doesn’t it – who wouldn’t want to live to their fullest potential whenever they can? And yet almost no one does this all the time, especially when we become anxious or stressed.

But what better time to take an attempt being our best self? When you feel like you are really fulfilling your potential, it’s invigorating. Choose to put yourself in that state: what would you do in that moment if you could be the highest form of your current self? Well, just do it!

So many times we are waiting for someone or something to give us permission, and you just need to give permission to yourself. Go be awesome, even (especially) when things are tough.

4. Do a mental reset with an external focus exercise

If you find yourself in a bit of a mental frenzy or feeling jumpy or fidgety, try picking three external things on which to focus. Silently say the name of each thing as you stare at it, switching from item to item every 2-3 seconds (it will feel like a long time!).

It doesn’t matter what the items are. It could be a door knob, a binder, and an umbrella…anything!

Notice how the brain slows and relaxes as you intentionally focus on each of the things. After a few rounds, allow yourself to become aware of the breath as you continue.

5. You-Tunes

We all know that music has the power to change moods (and scientific studies support this), so get some tunes that relax, motivate, and inspire you and make a playlist on your phone or portable listening device.

If you start to feel stress creeping up on you, turn to the music that puts you in your desired mood. Not sure what to pick? Check out some playlists already created by others to get some ideas.

Stress is going to happen – that’s inevitable (because life…) – but you don’t have to dwell in it, and you don’t have to give it power over you. The best thing about this list: you can do these things anywhere! No need to stop your crazy schedule, which is good because most likely you can’t. Hang in there this month, and remember to balance all that stress and running around with some relaxation and joy!

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