Worth every minute: 3 daily stress-relief habits
I believe that managing micro-stressors will prepare me for when I am confronted with a large, high-stress incident at work or home
I strongly believe that managing the micro-stressors of daily life is critical to making sure I don’t allow stress to accumulate in an unhealthy way. I also believe that managing micro-stressors will prepare me for when I am confronted with a large, high-stress incident at work or home.
As such, I have three daily habits that help me let go of the small, daily stresses of life.
My list of “worth every minute” habits to destress was inspired by Warren Wilson’s list of books, tactics and training that are worth every minute for police leaders.
Habit 1: Exercise before work
I do something active every morning before work. My routine varies depending on the season, but within 15 minutes of waking up, I strive to be either walking the dog, running, kayaking, cycling, or completing a high-intensity interval workout. I want to be moving, and preferably sweating, for at least 45 minutes.
An early morning workout keeps me fit and gives me a chance to think about my priorities for the day ahead. I also like knowing that no matter what unexpected challenges come up during the day I have already completed a workout.
Habit 2: Attend kid events
Watching my kids play sports, make music or play around the house is an ongoing source of joy, laughter and occasional tears. Supporting them as they sharpen their skills, learn sport and life lessons from other adults, participate on a team and experience the highs and lows of competition reminds me that effort, determination and collaboration are more important than winning or losing.
Habit 3: Read every night before sleep
Even though I spend a significant part of my workday reading Police1 articles, internal correspondence and public safety industry news, pleasure reading – especially fiction – helps slow my mind, relax my body and prepare myself for sleep. The habit of reading for 10-30 minutes is a critical part of my going to bed ritual and helps me transition quickly from wakefulness to a sound night of sleep.
I optimize my in-bed reading environment by not having a TV in the bedroom, charging my phone and smartwatch in another room, and reading on a Kindle HD Fire electronic reader. I set the screen background color to black with text, which lowers the ambient light from the Kindle and allows me to read in the dark.
This year I have been conducting a series of monthly challenges related to these habits. Each month I make an adjustment to a habit to add some variety. For example, in January, I did a daily yoga practice as part of my exercise routine. In June, I did 100 push-ups each morning. In September, I dedicated myself to running Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. A bit of variety is strengthening the habit and preventing me from getting in a rut.