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Stress is not 100% bad. In fact, stress can boost productivity. In the old days stress helped us out-run predators or focus better on the task at hand so that we could, well, survive. Today, the stress of an impending move can help motivate us to take clothes to a donation drop-off and pack-up our belongings well before the move-date. We may even experience stress from experiences we label “good”: the excitement of a job promotion, trip, or new relationship will likely put a bit of stress on us. Stress becomes a problem when we max out and switch from good stress to distress. This tipping point is different for each of us.

The shift from good stress to distress will express itself differently from person to person. If we’re paying attention, we’ll notice warning signs in the lead up to stress overload or overwhelm. The shift itself and the warning signs are often subtle: an increase in fatigue, chapped lips, racing heart, tummy troubles, irritability. Things we may not even notice as signs of stress. Additionally, what may be stressful to you may not be to someone else and vice versa. But what tends to be distressing to everyone, and definitely plays a role in the shift from good stress to distress, is feeling out of control. A sense of having little to no control is distressing to everyone.

Establishing a routine that’s easy enough to follow at home, at work, or on vacation can help reduce stress in two ways.

  1. It sets up a reliable framework from which we can detect the signs that stress is shifting from something good to something not so good.
  2. It gives us control over at least part of the day. So when things start to feel hectic and out of your hands, we can be certain that come 5 o’clock we’ll be playing basketball, heading out for a walk, or sipping iced tea just like every other day.  

What your schedule looks like can be completely up to you, but we recommend including these stress reducing activities into your every day as much as you can.

1. Start the day intentionally.

Ease into your morning by taking the first moments of the day slowly. Many people have a favorite beverage, some might even call this a ritual. Whatever it is, we support it. We love GT’s ALIVE Yerba Mate this time of year. Infused with adaptogenic mushrooms like reishi, chaga, and turkey tail this subtly minty, slightly effervescent tea is just what we need on a hot morning. It’s cooling, calming, and gives us something we can look forward to.

2. Get moving.

At some point in the day, move your body in the most pleasurable way. Dance around, take a class, go for a walk, run, or hike, climb a tree, stretch your arms, wiggle your toes, roll your head around to give your neck a good stretch. Movement doesn’t have to be big, it just has to be consistent, easy, and enjoyable. It can happen minutes a day or it can happen hours a day, choice is yours!

3. Stand, sit, or lie in the sun.

There are two benefits to letting the sun shine down on you: first, it gets you outside where you can be with plants, other people, animals, and - depending on where you live - moderately fresh air. Second, you get some Vitamin D, which makes a big difference in our lives. And guess what? Nearly 40% of Americans are Vitamin D deficient. Lacking a crucial vitamin is stressful even if its effects aren’t immediately detectable. Vitamin D helps stabilize our moods, keeps our bones healthy, and wards off fatigue. So get out there everyday.

4. Spend time with people you love.

Even though it may not always feel this way, it is actually easier to get through stuff together. Sharing the good times makes them more enjoyable and sharing the bad times makes them less unbearable. Being in community will make a difference to you and the people around you.

5. Schedule free time.

It’s hard to remember to do nothing, but it's so important to do nothing. Let your free time be free, pencil it in but don’t attach any expectations to it.

6. Sleep

Human adults need at least 7 hours of sleep a night, but as herbalists we think you need between 9 and 12 hours. We also think you should try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time Monday-Sunday in fall, winter, spring, and summer. You can blame us for your boring bed-time, but believe us the body has so much to do while it rests: heal wounds, clean the glymphatic system, get rid of information it doesn’t need, dream, plus a lot more. Establishing a sleep routine will make going to bed a lot easier. This might take a few months to fully adopt. Ours is pretty simple: get off screens, skip the melatonin and take 50 drops of Sweet Dreams 15 minutes before bedtime instead, then climb into bed at the same time every night. Wake up feeling refreshed and rested.

For lots of us, routines can feel stressful. Being too scheduled makes us want to rebel. If that’s you, make your schedule really loose. Don’t commit to any timeframes and expect that you’ll switch up the type of movement you do, the people you spend time with, or the food you eat everyday or week. And for the people who feel secure with a strict schedule, go ahead: meal plan and schedule your yoga classes for the rest of the year. Remember the point of the routine is to help you feel in control, and what level of control is entirely up to you!

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