Women are so often called on to bear the weight of the world. Weight that — for a black woman — can feel ten times heavier. From spearheading social movements to balancing our work- and school- loads to entrepreneurship and nurturing our families, it’s our natural disposition to be moving and shaking. With that, we often find ourselves neglecting our number one priority — ourselves. You might say you don’t have the time, but do you have the next five minutes? Here are 10 simple tips to help you take the edge off, come back to center and just feel better. They're so simple, you can do them in minutes. So sit back, relax, and learn:
1. Deep breaths
Someone recently pointed out that I have a tendency to stop breathing. I didn’t even notice but it's true. In stressful and heightened situations, our breathing tends to quicken or sometimes we forget to breathe altogether. But breathing is our life energy. I recommend 10 deep breaths — in through your nose and out through your mouth in succession.
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils for healing. I was very skeptical at first, but after trying it I found instant relief. Here are four essential oils to aid in your recharge:
- Peppermint oil – boosts mood and mental performance
- Lavender oil – calms, enhances relaxation
- Eucalyptus oil – combats mental fatigue (added bonus: helps to sooth congestion and respiratory problems)
- Lemon oil – lifts mood, fights depression
I keep a small bottle with me, rub the oil in my hands and breathe in deeply. Lavender works great for when I’m sitting in rush hour traffic and I use eucalyptus when I need to get my creative juices flowing.
Grounding or “Earthing” is the direct and indirect means of improving health by absorbing the earth’s natural, electromagnetic energy. The easiest way to ground is to walk outside (in contact with rock, dirt or water) barefoot. Don’t everyone kick off your shoes at once. Trust me, do it for five minutes or less and you’ll feel like a kid again.
Affirmations are more than forced, regurgitated quotes. They are what we feed ourselves, sonically. We have to take responsibility for our headspace by filling it with thoughts that we want to have. I advise starting with one affirmation. Create (or borrow) a word or phrase that you believe, want to believe or that simply helps you come back to center. Start with something simple that feels natural. One that I’m currently using is “Everything I do, I do with ease, love and joy.” That reminds me not to stress or get agitated when tasked with something I’m not so passionate about. Another one, “I Create,” is my absolute favorite. When I find my thoughts going somewhere negative like worry, regret, anger, etc., I remind myself that my thoughts are creative and I have the power to choose them.
5. Going for a walk
Easy enough, but we often forget the importance of MODERATE exercise when we are too focused on getting that Beyoncé body. Studies have found that taking a walk can put your brain in a meditative state. It's true that walking releases stress-busting endorphins. Park a little farther away from the grocery store entrance or add a short walk to your lunch break.
Singing is something I’ve never had a talent for but that always takes me to my happy place. Like walking, singing releases the human body’s natural “morphine” aka endorphins. Need some inspiration? Check out this adorable video posted by Business Insider on how impactful singing can be on our health.
Yoga combines the benefits of moderate exercise and deep breathing all IN one. You don’t have to balance on your head to get them either. If you don’t have the time (or resources) for a class, find a corner in your living space or even outdoors to meditate and/or move through a couple of poses. Sometimes finding balance in our bodies allows us to create balance in our minds.
8. Fresh fruit
A study found that people who eat seven or more servings of produce a day are happier and have better mental health. Although it might only take five minutes to eat an apple, we have to consider our consistency. You’ll be surprised how much better you deal with the stresses of life when you're properly feeding your body.
9. Share a hug
Fun fact: a 20-second hug releases endorphins, so it's chemically guaranteed to make you and the recipient feel better. Not daring enough to hug a stranger, and there’s no one around you that you know? Share a random act of kindness or simply a compliment. If we can shift our focus to making someone else feel good instead of the work it requires or fear we might have of doing it, the entire experience becomes lighter, as do we.
As simple as it might seem, while under pressure we rarely realize we are wearing all of our stress quite literally. So smile. The more ridiculous you feel, the better. Feeling really bold? Laugh. Our facial expressions reinforce the feelings we have or would even like to have. When you want to feel joy, ease or excitement, smile.
Wasn’t that easy? We're so busy doing the difficult things that we forget it’s the simple things that ground us. The question is, how much can we do for others if we are depleted? After you’ve taken your five-minute rest, take another one. And this time plan a trip. Whether it’s once a year or once a month, we have to make adequate time for ourselves to recharge, regroup, and reaffirm. We, as women, bear the weight of the world not because we have to, but because we can. It's our choosing to be overwhelmed by it. So let’s all take a deep breath and proceed at conquering the world.