How do I manage my stress?

Exercise helps!
Dear Edahn,

Lately I've been feeling really stressed out. From the moment I wake up until I go to sleep I feel anxiety and this tension and constriction in my chest. Sometimes I wake up with aching shoulders and back. I have to often remind myself to take deep breaths. What strategies can I use to relax a little? There is always going to be work and there are always going to be things I need to get done and not enough time to do them in. I need to learn how to chill out and focus rather than feeling like my head is about to explode 12 hours out of every day.


YOU CAN PUT ALL your focus on relaxing your body and giving it what it needs to recover. That includes: 
  1. Adequate rest
  2. Exercise, stretching, or yoga
  3. Eating healthy and avoiding certain foods like caffeine, alcohol, and foods with very high sugar (cake, too many fruits)
  4. Taking a bath twice a week instead of showering
  5. Listening to music that's soothing rather than exciting, in the car, at home, during dinner
  6. Stop watching the news and reality TV
I would also experiment with taking a few minutes (15 or so) to feel the tension in your body. Not to force it to calm down, but just to let it be felt. There's no special trick to this, you just let whatever's there be there is whatever way it wants. Doing this will naturally soften that tension and soften your mind too. If there're some things in your life you've been putting off, or something things you can do to make your life a little simpler, do them now. Finally, clean your house/apt/shack if it's not already clean. Clean body, clean room, clean mind, simple living. 

Make a schedule right now that you could stick to realistically and post it somewhere obvious and unavoidable. For instance,
  • Monday: 15 minutes of sitting and feeling, work, clean room 1 hour, bath, bed by 11:30
  • Tuesday: Yoga 20 minutes, work, Trader Joe's, get something done I've been pushing off, bed by 11:30
  • Wednesday: 15 minutes sitting, make healthy breakfast, green tea, work, clean bathroom, gym, bath, bed by 11:30
  • Thursday...
Make it interesting and stick to it. Give it time to start working. Don't even think about if it's working or not for two weeks, just stick with it. In two weeks, I'll send you an email and see how you're doing.

Remember to whore out my blog to your friends, if you have any! Thanks! -ES