Relief comes from something that you actually like. Don’t sabotage your efforts.
Activities not included:
-binge-watching anything on Netflix
-surfing social media, whether that is Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, whatever
-YouTube rabbit holes
All of the above feel relaxing and can be enjoyable. They have their place.
However, that place is NOT to reduce your stress levels. Not the “oh crap my presentation is tomorrow” stress. Not the “my heart aches for meaning” stress. None of it.
Paradoxically, inactive methods of soothing stress can actually increase your stress over the long term. The Mayo Clinic says so, not just me.
Consistent action. Not burdensome action – that wouldn’t be any fun at all.
I’m a fan of gardening, but this can be anything from hiking, cycling, or hula hooping to marathon running. The key is to get your heart rate up consistently.
Consistent physical activity – 4 days a week for at least a half an hour – is the apple a day that keeps the bad things away. Everything from Alzheimer’s to heart disease to osteoporosis can have reduced risk with consistent physical activity. Couch potatoes ‘R Us is no longer.
Stress has a physical hold on our bodies, so relaxation techniques help release the chokehold on our muscles and our brain. I’m told yoga is great for this. I tend to get stuck at day two and prefer the stretching type of yoga when I do try. Tai chi or getting a massage will also work. Simply breathing deeply (consistently, and for a length of time) can also help.
I swear by meditation. A day without meditation and I start getting jumpy. Two days without it and I’m back to stressed-out-no-matter-what-is-going-on. Stress truly is an invisible monster, one that has invaded our minds and bodies. Fight back, gently, to find relief.
If you needed an excuse to laugh at cat memes, here you go.
A sense of humor is the disinfectant keeping the stress fog out of your mind. I know cute isn’t exactly humorous, but putyouinabettermood is a fantastic resource for remembering the good in the world. It’s a lot easier to find the humor when you believe in goodness.
Happy hours and potlucks to the rescue!
Stress thrives on your thoughts, twisting and turning them away from reality. Spending time with family and friends keeps you rooted in reality. Even if your best friend just bought her dream house while you are stuck in a crappy apartment, it’s worth it.
Or sewing …. writing …. drawing … laying in a hammock looking at the clouds.
Whatever you fancy, expand or start a new hobby that you look forward to.
Take that class in the name of stress relief! Even if you don’t end up liking basket-weaving, you distracted your mind and learned something new, both of which are important weapons in the fight against stress.
Katie calls Richmond, VA home with her husband and all the furry, four-legged creatures he and municipal code will allow. She has spent years bringing her anxiety under control, learning to trust her intuition, and dreaming of a world where people live in sustainable harmony. She is addicted to popcorn, avoids wearing shoes, should do yoga but doesn't, reads non-fiction for fun, and reluctantly gave up caffeine in search of peace. Just don’t ask her to give up sugar (read: ice cream).