I’ve been home for so long, I almost forgot how to relieve my stress. Crazy, right? Am I the only one? In case some of you need a helpful reminder, I’ve compiled a list of ideas that have been tried and true stress relievers amongst myself and my friends. Some are silly, some are straightforward, some are great do with partners. Go with what speaks to your soul. Switch it up every day or just on the days when you feel like you need a break. These stress-relief ideas are all mix and match, interchangeable and compoundable.
For me, this one is tough. I have a difficult time telling my brain to quiet down long enough to feel relaxed. But in the small moments where I can clear my head and focus on what’s a priority, it does make me feel more centered at the end. If I’m sitting outdoors, I repeat “breathe in, breathe out” in my head and focus on just being. I am aware of the breeze. I can feel the warmth of the sun. No choice but to listen to birds and dogs and passing cars. This mantra is great for me when I’m trying to fall asleep. Which is usually when my mind seems to be the most active. Even if I only attempt it for 5 minutes, putting in the effort to appreciate my small moment is all it takes for me to push my stressors aside and refocus.
Yes! Journaling is great for getting my head empty. If I am able to write it down, then I’m not too distracted by keeping tabs of everything in my head. Mommy brain has really done a number on me. Instead of staying immersed in the moment, I choose to document it. Get as detailed as I feel I want to be. Or sometimes it’s just a list. The act of physically using a pen and notebook really simplifies it for me. Takes me back to the basics when most of what I do daily involves a computer or tablet or phone. Using a journal is a great way to channel your creative side. You can decorate the covers, theme the pages, add images, stickers, ticket stubs, press flowers into it (does anyone still do that??), etc. Make it yours. Then let the words flow.
Dance It Out
If you’re feeling stuck, move. Rachel Hollis posted a great video on her Instagram about the effects of physically getting up and moving every day. She said, “When you move your body, you literally change the chemical makeup inside your mind… but you have to choose to do that.” I choose dancing. It changes your mood instantly. And she’s so right! Put on some tunes and shake it, Mama! Start small if you have to. One song. Literally dance like no one is watching. Get that blood pumping, sing at the top of your lungs, heck, dance while you’re folding laundry! Dance with your friends on a call. Do that Facebook live, no shame. It’ll bring up your heart rate and your mood.
A good soak in the tub will wash the stress away. I heard if you add lots of bubbles, it’ll take more stress away with the suds. 😉 Ok, that’s not a fact, but it does mean some solo time to just chill out. Read a book while you’re in there. Put on some relaxing music. Light a candle. Sip on something sparkling and refreshing. Open a window and let the sounds of nature accompany you. However you want to soak it is your choice. This stress relief option is kind of a build-your-own. Give it a try and see if you don’t feel a little more relieved when you’re done.
Phone a Friend
One day, a long while from now, we’ll tell stories about the time we, as a world, were stuck in quarantine. A time when we were told to stay home, don’t visit your families, don’t hang out with friends, stay far apart, cover your faces. Part of my stories will include the many, many video calls and giggles I had with my girlfriends from all over the country and my family back home. Keeping a standing check-in date with them each week has proven to be a beacon of light at the end of such a crazy tunnel. Even if there was no quarantine disruption, calling and talking with friends and family who can make you laugh is a great way to relieve stress. You don’t have to carry the weight all on your own. And they don’t either. Make the most out of those phone calls.
I dislike cleaning, I really do. I also dislike a dirty house. Once I get started scrubbing away I kind of morph into a cleaning machine. Wiping counters, removing clutter, instant stress relief. The swirling motion of washing dishes or wiping surfaces puts me in the zone. Then I go for it. The back and forth motion of the vacuum or steam mop is easy and calming. When I feel the space is clean enough for my standards, I can relax again.
Cooking, or baking, can also be relaxing. And the reward of eating the final product would absolutely make me feel less stressed. A no-pressure recipe is ideal. Line up all your ingredients, get out all the mixing bowls and utensils, and watch the science of cooking work its magic. Well worth the wait for that timer to go off.
Get outdoors! Pop in some earbuds and take a walk with a soundtrack. Sit under a tree and listen to a new podcast. Swim, hike, bike, run. Yoga in the sunshine, sip a cup of tea on your porch. If you would prefer to sit near an open window instead, do it! Open all the windows where you live and let the breeze circulate. If the space feels less stuffy, you might feel less stressed.
Family Game Night
Bust out all those games from your childhood and see who is the champ! Play for extra treats or access to a coveted activity. Keep score on a whiteboard or just play for fun with the family, just the kids, one-on-one, virtually with your friends. Let the laughs happen and the stress relief take over.
Whichever method of stress relief you choose, make it your own. Feel what you might need at that moment and go with it. Your mental health will thank you.