April is National Stress Awareness Month. Read this article by Osiris Ordaz, LMHC – Mental Health Therapist to reduce stress and improve your day.
If you are anything like the millions of people living in the United States, you’ve probably said or thought the phrase, “I don’t have the time” at least once recently. Same. This is why, I am bringing you two things you can start doing in your daily life that do not take up any extra time to help improve your wellbeing. They are small swaps/changes that can catapult you to a more positive mental state and a higher ability to cope with daily stressors.
Let’s start with when we first wake up. Upon awakening our brains are in what is called the “theta wave state”.
This is a magical time when our brains our free flowing, making connections, and producing loads more mental imagery than when our brains enter alpha or beta wave state (normal states when we are awake during the day). Theta wave state is also connected to strong memory making and learning. Theta wave state is mostly seen in children, artists, and expert meditators throughout the day. However, everyone has access to this state right when we fall asleep and wake up.
One of the best ways to utilize these few minutes in this state to jump start your day is to say an affirmation. It does not have to be too complicated, even repeating a short sentence like, “I am excited for the day” can work.
Why does this work? Theta wave state is also the state when our brain is more susceptible to suggestions and our barriers are down – think of it like an almost hypnosis state. I will share my affirmation of the week with you, “My vibes have attracted the amazing people around me”. Truly a self-confidence booster this sentence has been for me. Having an immediate good start to your morning can lead to having a better afternoon, evening, and night.
The second daily mood booster is a few seconds under cold water during your shower. As cold as you can handle, for as long as you can handle. I know, this winter has been terrible for Northwest Iowa, the last thing we want is to experience more cold temps. Hear me out though – standing in the shower while withstanding the cold water and taking deep breaths can bring you increased alertness, clarity, and higher energy levels. The simple reason why this works is because the cold water sends electrical impulses to our brains and they jolt our system to increase our energy and build mental resilience. The first week or two you might only be able to do a couple of seconds, but slowly your tolerance will build, and you will start seeing a difference throughout your day. Don’t forget to take a deep breath in through your nose and slowly out your mouth while weathering the cold water.
Both things are not huge changes, and they take seconds from the time you already have allotted to yourself. If you know someone who would enjoy doing this with you, get them involved! Share this with your friends and keep each other accountable by sharing your affirmations and maybe even competing on how long you all can handle under the cold water. Not having the time does not have to be a barrier to making small changes to feeling better and building a healthier you.