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With September on the horizon, that to-do list is ever growing and it can be easy to sink into the feeling that things are getting out of control. Busy times may lie ahead but they’re only stressful if you allow them to be. It’s about preparation, staying organized, and also so much about making sure you grant yourself enough time between busy moments to relish the sweet things in life. Check out our list of tips on how to stay calm, mindful, and healthy when anxiety hits–including a personal favourite stress relieving technique of mine at the end!

    1. Allow yourself a significant amount of wind-down time before bed. Put away the phone, the computer, and anything that you would qualify as ‘work’. Pull out a book, listen to some music or a podcast, and give yourself a good chunk of time to relax before falling asleep.
    2. Spend time outside. Walk around the block, take a book to the park, climb a mountain–whatever you’ve got time for. Spending time outdoors is one of the cheapest, and healthiest ways to refresh the mind and body.
    3. Clear away clutter. Being able to work, or relax in an organized space can make all the difference.
    4. Meditate. Meditation isn’t something you need to pay for. Pick a spot, any spot, and just concentrate on your breath.
    5. Set goals and write them down somewhere that you’ll look everyday. Setting goals for yourself immediately presents you with a timeline of what you want to achieve and by when. This may seem straightforward, but lacking the action plan to accomplish certain things is often the root of what stresses us out.
    6. Yoga. Find a class in your neighbourhood or online. Or if you know what you’re doing, strike a few poses on your own.
    7. Journal. Writing is an amazing outlet when you’ve got a lot on your mind. You may find that something that seemed confusing suddenly makes sense when you work it out on the page.
    8. Do a crossword. Or a sudoku puzzle. Something that exercises your mind, but also lets your relax.
    9. Make yourself a cup of tea. If you’re trying to calm down, perhaps opt for a herbal/caffeine free tea.
    10. Give yourself a DIY face mask. You’ve probably got everything you need in your kitchen!
    11. Do something nice for someone. I admit that especially in stressed out times, it’s easy to slip into a self-centered hole. Why not take a break from worrying about yourself, and use this time to make someone else’s day? Bring your coworker a fancy coffee, help out your friend who’s moving, take your mom out for dinner–it might even give you a little perspective on your own worries.
    12. Snuggle your pet. No matter what the trouble is, your pet isn’t going to harp on you about it.
    13. Talk to a friend. It can be easy to think we’re alone in our worries when we’re stressed out. Call up an old friend, you don’t even need to discuss what’s bothering you if you don’t want to. Having conversations with people that you trust can be a humongous relief. 

Before I reveal my favourite tip on this list, a bit of context. At the risk of entering the realm of ‘get rid of X with this one weird tip’, I’ve got a slightly offbeat stress-relieving technique to share with you–and just like the others it’s cheap, easy, and works every time.

I walk my pup around the same woodsy neighbourhood loop most days. We trot along together, and this in itself I find to be very relaxing and a great opportunity to quiet my mind. However, each day, when we enter a particularly desolate part of our walk, we pass a beautiful, grand cedar tree. It is at this point that we stop. Delilah sits, or continues sniffing around close-by. I scan the area, and then I approach the cedar, and when I am confident that I am alone, I give the tree a hug.

The first time I did this I felt the same way I imagine I might feel at a laughter yoga class. I felt vulnerable, a little bit embarrassed, but then surprisingly cheerful. Even first approaching the tree felt strangely unfamiliar and I felt noticeably uncomfortable. But hugging the tree, though still done in secret, has become a wonderful ritual that keeps me grounded through my day to day. Try it! It may feel slightly awkward, you will probably chuckle, and at the very least you tried something new. So without further adieu: 14. Hug a tree. Seriously, give it a try.

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