By Kimberly Mikesh

10 simple ways to catch your breath when you're totally stressed out

Tags Living Happier

When you're overwhelmed with stress, anxiety and to-dos, it can be hard to get started, much less make progress, on everything you need to get done. But, like happiness, stress is a state of mind. So next time you feel your stress levels creeping into DEFCON 5 territory, sit back, relax (easier said than done, we know) and try out one (or all!) of these stress relievers:

1) Ditch the comparisons: When you compare your internal struggles with everyone else's public "highlights" (we're thinking of you, Facebook), you're going to come up short, and needlessly so. These comparisons do little more than erode your confidence, so kick 'em to the curb and write your own playbook. 

2) Be grateful: A little perspective can go a long way, so when the walls feel like they're closing in, it's the perfect time to reflect on the things that are going right. And yes, there are some good things you can point to -- even on the worst of days. For even better results write those good things down.

3) Breathe: Taking just even a few seconds to breathe deeply, slowly, and mindfully produces calming physiological changes. Remember when your mom told you to breathe and count to three when you were upset? She was right. 

4) Get outside: Vitamin D is a wonderfully powerful antidote to all things stressful, dark and angst-y. Next time you have the choice between cramming in a few last minutes of prep for a meeting or stepping outside for a quick breath of fresh air, pick the latter.

5) Accept it: We'd all save ourselves a ton of strife if we stopped worrying about others who don't measure up to what we think they "should" be doing. That's them. This is you. Keep the focus on what matters and what you can control. 

6) Get your move on: Our bodies were made to move, so don't hold them back! Whether it's walking, running, biking, yoga, swimming... we could go on and on and on. Just do it. 

7) Do one thing and one thing only: Did you know that multitasking actually makes us LESS productive? True story. So focus on one thing at a time and you'll get things done better and faster. 

8) Be honest with yourself: Are you stressing out because of unrealistic expectations? Often the pressure we create for ourselves is far greater than it needs to be. So ask yourself a tough question: "Is this truly a realistic goal I'm setting for myself?" Chances are it's not and acknowledging that will be a huge relief. 

9) Spend time with friends: While it might seem like the last thing you should be squeezing into your schedule, spending time with people you care about is a great way to get a mini-escape. You'll be amazed at how great even a quick coffee catch-up will make you feel.

10) Get some rest: When you're stressed out you stay up late trying to get stuff done, or worse, you lay awake worried about what you're not doing. Then you're left to tackle your to-dos with less sleep. By this point, you're tired and less efficient, so you get further behind. So you stay up late again and .... You see where this is going: it's a downward spiral that you don't want to get caught up in. Do yourself a favor and get a good night's sleep. The weight of the world may seem a little bit lighter after some solid Zzz's. And coffee. Yes, definitely coffee.... 

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