Although some stress is healthy, continuous stress can cause health problems such as high blood press and depression. Here’s what I do to de-stress.
1. Write it down: Keeping a journal is a great way to relieve stress. If I get bogged down with a lot of stressors, I write down each one and then, beside it, a possible solution. It enables me to get the worries out of my head and onto paper or computer screen. When I organize them, and really think about how to fix them, it makes them seem much less intimidating and worrisome. No, all problems can’t be solved by a simple phone call, for example, but this exercise tends to help lessen the intensity.
2. Talk it out: I tell a trusted friend or family member about my concerns. I even have done a fair bit of talking to myself, taking both sides of an issue. Sometimes just talking things out will help me work through my problems, find answers, and make me feel better. When that hasn’t helped, I’ve consulted my physician.
3. Daydream: I have used daydreaming for stress relief practically my whole life. I think I spent too much time in a dream world, though. Basically, when I wasn’t in school, I was up in my bedroom creating a whole different world for myself in which I was totally healthy and popular. Years later, a psychologist told me that’s actually a healthy way to deal with stress. I never smoked, drank alcohol, took illicit drugs, or practiced self-mutilation. I daydreamed. I had no idea I was doing something healthy. Go figure.
3. Guided relaxation: I’ve got CDs and books on relaxation techniques which have helped somewhat. One exercise that worked the best was to imagine my feet sprouting roots, grounding me, relaxing me. I’ve never been able to stick with meditation, though. My mind won’t quiet down long enough to concentrate on it. But I do think meditation is a viable option for stress relief.
4. Go for a walk: Whenever I’m stressed, a walk helps immensely. It helps clear my mind and provides exercise at the same time. It doesn’t have to be a strenuous walk; I just keep a pace that’s comfortable. Sometimes a walk helps me think of fresh new ideas on how to solves problems, while others times it helps me to forget the whole crazy situation and just enjoy the natural surroundings and sunshine.
5. Work out: Stressful situations can put a damper on my motivation. When I force myself to work out even on the most “blah-feeling” days, I end up feeling refreshed and much less stressed out. A good workout can really boost my mood and enegy level. Also, I make fitness fun. I choose exercises and activities I enjoy doing. I also keep my workouts varied. One day I’ll walk with a friend, the next I’ll practice yoga, and the next I’ll do a total body weight training circuit.
6. Watch something funny: There are certain TV shows and movies that crack me up. Watching any old thing doesn’t cut it, though. It has to make me laugh from down deep. It can’t just spur an, “oh yeah, that’s funny, haha,” response; it has to be “the-cats-are-looking-at-me-like-I’ve-gone-completely-insane” (we have six of cats) kinda laugh where I can’t stop, can’t talk, can barely breathe. That’s what de-stresses me. Two movies that have succeeded in the past have been “Sister Act,” and “American Pie.” I was surprised that I found American Pie so funny, because I’m not usually the party-hearty-high-school-antics-movie type of person, but I about died laughing through that whole movie.
7. Be flexible: Sometimes it’s hard to deal with a situation that just isn’t going my way. And, of course, sometimes I rant and complain and get all stressed out about it. When it comes right down to it, it’s much better to cool off, calm down, and learn to be flexible. Hearing the other person out, using the time spent in a traffic jam to meditate rather than complain, and making the effort to ease up on my husband for forgetting to pick up something while he was out and about that I just “had” to have–these work better and cause fewer headaches than stressing out does.
8. Get organized: My organizational skills have not been the greatest at times, and that can lead to some major stress. Missed appointments, missed opportunities, and guilt result. It’s not worth it. I keep saying I will have a major clear out; I will get organized. But really, little steps taken help as well. Who has time for major clear outs these days? Life is crazy busy for many of us. A couple of things I’ve done have been small, but significant, because they boosted my spirits and motivated me to continue organizing. One was cleaning out a dresser. It didn’t take long, but it felt great! And the other was getting a big desk-top calendar and planning my week. I’m still using paper planners; I haven’t graduated to Google Calendar or other organization apps yet. Use what works best for you.