Somewhere between swigging bottles of Blueprint, sweating your brains out daily, and, oh yeah, attempting to catch up on last year’s lingering to-dos, resolution season can leave us all feeling a little more frazzled than fresh and new.
So, we called up some life experts for some quick-hitting tips to rein in an out-of-control day, and come out feeling calm and centered (yes, even you, stress addicts). Warning: Your excuses for being harried all the time are about to fall away—and that’s actually a good thing.
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Try A Mini Meditation
The idea of closing your eyes, sitting around for an hour and thinking about nothing can seem like a colossal waste to the super busy. But even a few minutes of meditation can help you shake off tension and bring a slew of other good things to your life (like improving your memory, for starters). Kristin McGee, a longtime celebrity yoga teacher in NYC, suggests starting with the lake meditation, which can be done anywhere you can close your eyes. Here’s her mini guide:
Close your eyes and envision your mind as a lake. Any thoughts in the mind are like stones being thrown into the water, causing ripples, stirring up sediment, and disrupting the sense of inner calm. Focus on the breath. Now, imagine the stones sitting on the banks of the lake, instead of getting tossed into the water. Eventually, the ripples cease and the sediment settles back to the bottom. Your mind is like that clear, calm lake.
Get A New To-Do
Sure, making the umpteenth to-do list of the day might useful for a few minutes, but clarifying your bigger goals and intentions can help in the long run. Do you really need to attempt to become vegan, run a half-marathon, write more thank-you notes and start that Etsy shop before March?
"All of these things are just more things to do," life coach Christine Sachs says of our group tendency to make mile-long resolution lists. "Distinguish what it is you’re committed to." Once you’ve figured out your priorities, what you actually need to do becomes more obvious.
Breathe In, Breathe Out
“Set an intention” is something most yoga teachers utter at the start of class, but it’s a technique that can also be useful off the mat. When there’s absolutely zero time to meditate or text your best friend, international yoga teacher and founder of Aim True yoga Kathryn Budig says to just breathe.
“Simply closing your eyes and focusing on your breath for even a minute can make a huge difference,” she says. “Focus on inhaling for four, holding for four, and exhaling for four. Focus on the intention of what you want, instead of what seems to be.”
As she says, “Nothing is permanent.” Not even your stress.
Get Right At Night
Instead of curling up with Downton DVDs and a glass of vino or checking Facebook yet again, start devoting a small chunk of the night to actually unwinding. Psychologist Dr. Stephanie Mihalas suggests taking a bath, dropping into a nearby yoga class, reflecting on the day through journaling, or trying a five-minute chakra-clearing meditation (you can find them on YouTube).
As Dr. Mihalas puts it, the more control you take in how you spend your free time, the more you’ll decrease cortisol in your body—that’s the stress hormone—and the more ownership you’ll feel over your life. Eventually, it can transcend into all aspects of your life, putting you back in charge and out of that place of panic.
Or, just add water. Getting under some warm water can be like hitting a reset button on your life, Mihalas says. She suggests showering after a wreck of a day, while repeating a mantra that suggests you are literally washing away the day's frustrations. Come up with something that works for you, but don’t be afraid to say it out loud and repeat as necessary (the mantra, not the shower—that’ll dry out your skin). Hearing yourself affirm that it’s all going to be okay helps.
Stay Present To Move Forward
When you’re burnt out or dealing with a nightmare situation, everything seems overwhelming. But, oddly enough, bringing yourself back into the moment can help you stop the hurricane in your head.
“There really isn't stress in the actual moment, because we can all handle anything for one second,” says life coach Julie Mellilo. “It's the imagining of bad things, or re-hashing past moments that bring about our stress. So simply be in the moment, one second at a time.”
If changing your mind seems hard, change your position — literally. A quick posture adjustment can help with your overall attitude, Mellilo says. “Ask yourself, ‘How would I be sitting or standing if I felt grounded, calm, and happy?’ Right now, are you sitting in your chair as a person who was grounded, connected, and centered would sit? How would you be sitting if you really felt that way?”