We all have hard days. Sometimes they begin as soon as we wake up, with feelings of dread or disconnection, or maybe it was just a bad dream, or a long to-do list. Other times it may be because the world is seemingly against you—your boss is being difficult, or you’ve had a fight with a loved one.
These days make it seem easier to just go back to bed. However, retreating to bed is not an option for most of us, but the idea of pushing through the day and pretending to enjoy it, isn’t a much better alternative. Here are some ways that you can refresh yourself, refocus your mind, and hopefully restart your day.
Exercise is an often-prescribed remedy for negative thinking, hard days, and muddled thoughts. Moving for just 15 to 30 minutes a day will increase your energy level while clearing your mind. Exercising will also release a dose of endorphins into your system—those awesome, natural chemicals that interact with brain receptors to trigger a positive mood, bring down stress, and ward off anxiety. A little exercise will make a bad day seem like no sweat.
2. Deep Breathing
Studies have shown that deep, abdominal breathing encourages full oxygen exchange while sending a message to your brain to relax. As you slowly inhale and exhale, the things that occur when you feel stressed or overworked—increased heart rate, high blood pressure, anxious feelings, panic—melt away and you are able approach your problems calmly and process them clearly.
You do not have to be a master in meditation to reap its many calming benefits. If you are feeling overwhelmed with life’s demands and continual to-do lists, spending just a few minutes in mediation can restore your calm and refocus your mind. The point is to focus your attention on something physical—a wall, your breath, an image—and eliminate the stream of chaotic thoughts that are crowding your mind. After a few minutes of this, you will find refuge from your stressed thoughts and will feel ready to face your challenges head-on.
The link between water and stress reduction is well-documented. Being dehydrated makes the cortisol levels in your body drop, which can give rise to a multitude of symptoms including, but not limited to, stress, tiredness, and irritability. Stress can cause dehydration and dehydration can cause stress, so break the vicious cycle by drinking more water throughout the day.
5. Get Clean!
The act of cleaning your home, car, or workspace can be a great as a stress management technique, and the end result often makes you feel like a million dollars. Cleaning and organizing helps to clear the mind as you productively clean your space. So if your day needs a makeover, try giving your desk one, first.
6. The Restart Nap
Taking a “power nap,” has many benefits and will be a literal re-start to your day. The secret is to not nap so long that your body starts to go into a REM state, and to not nap so late that you are unable to fall asleep at night. The best time of day to nap is between 10:30 am and 5 pm and for a limit of 45 minutes. If you nap longer than that, you will be in danger of feeling more tired than before the nap. So if you have half an hour and a soft surface shut your eyes and start the day again.
7. Change your brainwaves
Brainwave entrainment technology is new, but the concept of changing your mood using rhythms is as old as humanity. The idea is that when you listen to a specific frequency, you can synchronize, or “entrain,” your brainwaves to that same frequency. Different frequencies produce different results, and there are many apps and CDs designed to reduce stress and “restart” your mind. All you need is a pair of headphones to entrain and restart your day.
8. Sing Yourself Anew
Turns out, singing your heart out is beneficial for your health and mood. It not only reduces stress by lowering your heart rate, it also releases mood-enhancing endorphins and increases levels of oxytocin—a hormone that promotes social affiliation and a sense of connection. The feel-good benefits are numerous and it is possible to restart your day even if you can’t sing on key.
9. Dance the Stress Away
Dancing is another simple and easy way to stimulate your mind and renew your spirit. By dancing to your favorite music, you can release stress, improve breathing, and let your creative energies flow. You can do it alone, or with other people, but either way, when you walk away from your impromptu dance floor you will have a new outlook on the day and a sense of fun.
10. Be Thankful
Research has shown that people who feel gratitude are generally happier and also report feeling more satisfaction and less stress. By counting your blessings and looking at your problems through a positive lens, you can restart your day without changing anything but your perception. Focus on your reasons to be thankful and you will be able to learn from your experiences and will be able to handle any bad day, whether it’s today or tomorrow.
We, alone, are responsible for how we handle each day. Even though external forces may be against us, and our own mind may get stuck in negative and stressful cycles, we have the power to reset. Utilize these small changes to help center your mind and take back the day.
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