The year 2020 was a bear for everyone. So much stress and anxiety. The year may have changed but the worried continue into the new year. In this week’s Intentional Living we take a look at some ways to help quiet your mind.

I don’t know anyone anymore who isn’t stressed about something. So I’m talking to all of you.

We will begin with something we all do anyway. Breathe. Although this time we can use our breathing to find stillness. Almost like meditation. Pay attention to the rhythm and take slower deeper breaths.

If you have a fish tank at home, sit and watch the fish swim. People with home aquariums say they feel calmer and more relaxed. This has been proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure.

Another suggestion that may sound familiar, get five minutes of exercise. Even a brisk walk can help calm your mind. Exercise helps the body release endorphins, which are chemicals that make you feel good, improve your mood, focus and sleep.

Turn up the music! Listening to music literally calms the activity in the brain. And find music you can really get into so that it’s not just background noise. The more you pay attention to the music the less you will swell on all the other thoughts running through your mind.

Do something good for someone else. Help someone or an organization. Doing this lights up part of the brain that makes you feel pleasure and connection. And experts say it lowers your stress and lessens feelings of loneliness. Plus those endorphins we talked about from exercising, well this activity also produces the chemical.

In the past ten months I have never seen so many people in the neighborhood out for a walk. With the family or your pet, or even by yourself it’s good to be outside and get your daily dose of vitamin D.

Progressive muscle relaxation. Start from your toes and go up. Specifically tense the body part for ten seconds and then release. Relax for ten seconds then move on to another body part. Feel the tension break when you release each muscle. Continue until you finish your whole body. This can improve sleep, ease headaches and even stomachaches.

Having a pet. Just hang out with your furry friend. They are amazing animals and they know when you are tense and stressed. Playing with them lowers the levels of stress hormones.

Try yoga or meditation. The controlled breathing can help reduce anxiety.

Get creative. Pick up a hobby. Make fun creations with your kids or by yourself. Or get outside and dig in the dirt. Both can lift your mood.

And finally, a great thing to remember is just to take a break. And find the way that works best for you.