With summer officially over, school in session, and holiday gatherings on the horizon, this time of year can be a little overwhelming. If your to-do list is getting out of hand, here are 5 simple ways to keep the (inner) peace, from getting outside to simply having a good laugh.
1. Take a nature walk.
Studies have shown that getting outside in nature improves well-being, and you can also gain perspective from autumn's visual cues. For example, those changing leaves are a reminder of impermanence—just as they change colors and fall from the trees, so will whatever is stressing you out. Be the tree and let what is temporary fall away.
2. Focus on small tasks.
Practice mindfulness as you complete the smaller things on your list—housework, paperwork, yard work. Focus fully on what you are doing right here, right now, checking in with all your senses as you do your tasks. If your thoughts wander to something bigger looming in the future, gently guide your mind back to the task at hand. By staying in the present moment, you stop giving importance and attention to your past or future worries.
3. Watch or read something silly.
Entertainment is more than an escape. Studies have shown that laughter reduces the release of stress hormones in your body. Catch a silly movie, or read the latest book from your favorite funny guy or gal.
4. Sing (really).
Studies have found that singing has a positive impact on affect and anxiety, and may even reduce depression. So turn up the music and sing along or gather some friends for karaoke—if nothing else, it will make you laugh (see tip 3).
5. Try a basic breath practice meditation.
Sama Vritti Pranayama, also known as "box breathing" is one of the simplest practices you can do, anywhere at anytime. Click here for instructions.