If I remember right, that equals about 20 little sticks of stress relief for my enjoyment.
Smoking was marvelous. I thoroughly enjoyed it, though I’ll beat you with my clunky laptop if you ever start such a nasty habit.
Since I gave it up over three years ago, I’ve had to find alternative ways to relieve stress. The year I quit, I was a newlywed, officially became a step mom and got a puppy.
I had a bit of stress.
Here are my top 9 ways to relieve stress, in order of effectiveness.
Vigorous exercise. Read it and weep. Running, kick boxing, jumping rope, serious bike riding – I’m not talking about the lolling around types of exercise. I mean the kind where your face is a couple shades of red and sweat beads form. This is the number one way to avoid and beat stress. Not the easiest way, but by far the most effective.
Getting enough sleep. Create a sleepy routine: about a half-hour before bed, quiet your mind by reading or doing something without electronics. Take 10 minutes to put the day away.
Listening to music. A day without music leaves too much quiet to fill with noisy thoughts like, “Hurry up!” and “You’ll never get all this done!” Let your ideas dance around a little. My favorite Pandora stations for a pick-me-up? Nickel Creek for happiness. Kings of Leon for motivation. Yeah Yeah Yeahs for anger management.
Red wine. It’s like a party in my mouth to sip an old vine zin or pinot noir. Enjoy a glass several hours before bed so it doesn’t interfere with your sleep.
Meditation. I used to think you had to be Buddhist to practice meditation, which isn’t the case at all. It’s a wonderful way to quiet the mind and be present with your surroundings. Here are some articles that explain some super easy techniques:
Meditation for beginners – 20 practical tips to help you get past the initial hurdles and integrate meditation over the long term.
How to use mini-meditations to relax and focus - Mini-meditations boost focus and calm your mind throughout the day. There’s no fancy preparation or techniques, and you can do them anywhere in less than a minute.
How to practice walking meditation – Be present and mindful of your experiences while you walk.
Movement and action. I’m guilty of filling my life too full, which leads to stress. Instead of letting my mind race with everything I need to do – I just start doing something. If you keep moving, stuff gets done.
Go somewhere alone. It could be a walk, a coffee shop where you can sit and think, even shopping. Get up from your desk and walk around the building outside. Sometimes it’s necessary to physically separate from the chaos. When I need to work alone, I tell the kids I’m not taking phone calls for the next hour and shut the office door to focus.
Touch. Give your kids a hug, greet friends by slinging your arm over their shoulder, kiss you spouse, snuggle. Turn on the power of touch – not in a creepy way, but a healthy, organic way, like the suggestions above.
Chronic stress can lead you down a dangerous path. It’s been shown to weaken the immune system, strain the heart, damage memory cells and deposit fat at the waist. Unchecked, it becomes an excuse for other bad habits, like drinking too much, eating junk food or smoking those nasty cigarettes.
Put a new pack in your pocket – like these tips – for a natural high that’s just the fix you’ve been craving.
If my writing helps you, please share it with other people. This is the number one way you can support my blog. xoxo Melissa
Photo by David Gaborit