My Top 5 Ways to Destress and Relax

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Like most of the population, I am often prone to stress and anxiety, and suffer long days (and worse, nights) in front of a computer working or studying. As a working student, I completely understand how it feels like to be completely exhausted and drained after a long day, and never seeing the light of day because you’re always at work or school.

However, I do my best to carve out some time to relax and destress, even when I am in the midst of a crunch time. I know that it’s hard to give up even a minute or try to relax when you have deadlines coming up, but it’s crucial to keep a sound and clear mind so you can actually accomplish and do a good job at whatever you’re doing, and avoid completely burning out. Trust me, crashing from overworking yourself is so brutal, and always happens at the worst possible times (like in the middle of an exam! Yes it’s happened before).

Here are my 5 personal favourite ways to destress and unwind. They range from a few minutes to a few hours, depending on how much time I have.

  1. A face mask is my favourite quick fix way of unwinding after a long week. It feels refreshing, refines your skin, and it feels like you’re getting a spa treatment but for a fraction of the price. It takes 10-15 minutes tops, and helps to reset my mind and wind down for the night.Some of my favourites include:
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    Freeman Anti-Stress Dead Sea Minerals Mask, $4.99 at London Drugs
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    skoah aha mask, $35.00 at skoah.com

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  2. Exercise. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but a good workout actually takes the tension out of my body and puts me in an instant feel-good, relaxed state post-workout, shower, and meal. It’s literally the best feeling ever as I’m relaxing in my chair after I’ve done all three. Staying active helps to keep you healthy and in shape, sharpens your cognitive abilities, and improves the quality of your sleep. all of which are especially important during crunch times.

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  3. Retail therapy. And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Go ahead, treat yourself after you’ve pulled through a particularly difficult or busy period. You deserve it! I actually feel my worries melt away after a successful shopping trip. Just don’t go too crazy with that credit card!

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  4. A good book. As a bookworm, I love to read and spend time in Chapters/Indigo, but I rarely have time to do so nowadays. So when I do get the chance, say post-finals, I will curl up with a novel and escape from the real world for a couple of hours. There’s nothing like getting lost in a good book and forgetting about your own troubles for a while. If you don’t like books, watching a few episodes of your favourite TV show also helps to take your mind off things.

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  5. Music and sleep. If I’m really pressed for time and can’t do any of the above, I will at least give myself a break when I’m on my commute home or before I go to bed, put in my headphones, close my eyes, and let the tension melt away from my body. I love chatting with friends while commuting, but it’s important for me to get in some me-time and just listen to my iPod, and music helps to calm me down and lull me to sleep. No studying. No texting. Just me and my music.

These are my favourite ways to destress- there are more, but the list would go on forever. I hope that I’ve at least helped remind you that it’s okay to take a break sometimes, and that stopping what you’re doing for a few minutes to rejuvenate won’t kill you. Happy relaxing!

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5 Reasons to Exercise!

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“God, Joyce,” you mutter as you click the link and read the title of this post, rolling your eyes. “Everyone knows its good to exercise, whether you do or not. Why write about this?”

Why yes. You are right about that. But most people think that you should exercise to be skinnier; lose weight; look attractive. Purely physical reasons. And those may be good enough reasons to do so, but are they good enough intrinsic motivators for everyone?

I’m not gonna lie, it took me a really long time to commit to working out on a regular basis. I tried all sorts of methods. But once I got into the groove of things and made it a habit, it really did change my life, and not just in terms of appearances.

My 5 personal reasons to exercise:

  1. A good workout makes you feel more energized. You may think ‘Oh I’m really tired, I’m not gonna work out’. But truth is, working out gives you more energy to accomplish those other tasks. It makes your brain more sharp and acute, and you can think more clearly. Oftentimes I’ll come home from work and feel absolutely exhausted, but after a good workout I feel re-energized and ready to tackle my to-do list in the evening.
  2. You get physically and mentally stronger. You are no longer out of breath when making a dash for the bus or walking up a few flights of stairs. You don’t feel like such a slob. You actually have a desire to take on challenges like the Grouse Grind (which I’m doing tomorrow! I’m so excited) and other hikes, and enjoy recreational physical activities. Realizing what you are physically capable of, transcends into other aspects of your life and empowers you on a deeper level.
  3. Sweating on a regular basis removes the toxins from your body and helps you maintain a strong immune system, which translates to less sick days! And nobody likes to be sick. It gets in the way of life.
  4. You see physical body changes. Here are where the physical changes kick in. Your body slims down. You drop a couple of pant sizes. You see muscles developing, and your body just feels less flabby and more toned. The number on the scale decreases slowly but surely. It’s very encouraging and satisfying to see. And the best part is, when you lose weight in a healthy, steady manner and not from crash dieting (in which you inevitably gain the weight back as soon as you resume eating normally), it stays off.
  5. It helps you stay sane and manage stress. You may be in the midst of exams as a student, a crunch time at work, or have your hands full dealing with your children. Whatever it is, carving out a bit of time to work out will make the biggest world of difference, even just 20-30 minutes a day. It really to helps lower your stress  and anxiety levels as exercise causes your body to release endorphins, which are feel-good, “happy” neurotransmitters, giving you a sort of natural high. This will also help you perform better in your other tasks, sleep more soundly, and approach the other aspects of your life with a clearer, calmer mind.

I hope this helps anyone out there who needs motivation or encouragement to commit to exercising. I understand 100% how difficult it is, and how much self-control and discipline it takes, but I promise you, it is so worth it in the end. Just take the plunge, and thank me later 😉