A number of unacquainted adults, from various walks of life, routinely enjoy the benefits of residing in a nation where liberty and justice are among its chief luxuries. Having different statuses of education, income, and ethnicity, all are suddenly forced to cope firsthand with the “domino effect” of America‘s vitriolic reaction to the assassination of an auspicious female presidential nominee, Gov. Ceinwen Jarvis. In a day and time where the advancement of technology allows one’s voting status, banking information, and even medical history to be accessed by microchip scan, they quickly realize that America – as well as their own lives – will never be the same.
Top Ten Stress-Busters
We are all busy; trying to do more with less, fitting in as much as humanly possible into the 24 hours that make up our days. Everywhere, we have obligations – at work and school, in our communities, and of course at home. And sometimes, it just feels like it is getting to be too much. Our schedules can become overwhelming, making it difficult to thrive when stress levels are high enough to be debilitating. Anyone could use a reminder from time to time that life does not have to be one continuous mad rush. I would like to therefore share with you my favorite ways for reducing stress when I feel like my head is going to explode. The best news is that these are all things you can do solo.
10) Silence Your Inner Voice. Meditation is a worthwhile practice with tangible benefits. Our internal voice is usually the one that causes us the greatest grief, being that it is the most critical, nagging voice around. We are hardest on ourselves, and usually when we are in a bad enough state that we start talking to the internal voice out loud, it means that stress management is long overdue. A crash course in meditation: sit somewhere quiet, with posture erect and legs criss-crossed. Close your eyes and clear your mind. I know, I know! That last part is easier said than done. But a good way to clear your mind of random, incessant thoughts is to think of “white noise” – some folks like to chant, or imagine a point of light moving slowly across their bodies. Just remember it is ok if you are focused on a single imagery exercise. The whole purpose of clearing your mind is not for it to become an entirely blank slate, but just that it stops running at a hundred miles a minute. 🙂
9) Become One With Nature. There’s nothing quite like taking in the larger world around you to help you put your own priorities in perspective. We live on a big, beautiful planet with countless things to explore. Go outside. You don’t have to do anything fancy. Look up into the sky and note the glorious shade of blue or identify shapes within the clouds. Lay down on the grass and enjoy the prickling sensation on the backs of your legs. Swim in the ocean, enjoy a sunset or sunrise, smell a flower, relish a breeze, watch the birds play, find the North Star, dive into a pile of crunchy fall leaves…. the list goes on and on.
8) Break A Sweat. I’m talking exercise. Anything that gets your body moving and your blood pumping counts. You might be the sort of person who likes to go to the gym or do aerobics – if so, have at it. Other ideas are a bit less structured: play with your kids, stretch, walk around the mall, do a little bit of housework, have sex. Any of these will help you to feel better when you are done.
7) Rock Out. You’ve heard that old cliche, something about music taming the savage beast. Well, in this case the beast is your Stress-Monster. So slap on your favorite song and pop in your earbuds. Try this next time: sit back and do nothing else at all – just listen. I guarantee you will hear something in there that you never noticed before.
6) Squeeze Something. It has been shown that touch works wonders for the human psyche. Initiate some physical contact with your significant other or your children. If you are still living the fabulous single life, a dog or cat – or even a soft plush teddy bear – can serve the same purpose. You can feel your worries melting away with each hug.
5) Clean Up. Your body – not the house! We are talking about relieving stress, not making more. 😉 There is nothing quite like the immediate relaxation that comes from taking a hot shower or lounging in a warm, fragrant bath. There is a reason why those old television commercials from Calgon showed how they can “take you away.” Warm water is soothing, and warm water that smells good makes you feel like you are at the spa or on vacation somewhere. I’ll take either one, thank you very much.
4)Belly Laughs. Seems this post is full of cliches, but that is because they are often true! So rather than tell you that laughter is the best medicine, I will suggest instead that having a rolicking good time will make you feel better. You believe me? Good. So the next time you are overwhelmed, try watching a comedy or going to see the local comedians do a open mike night. And take along that crazy cousin of yours for an extra dose of feel-good.
3) Indulge. Yeah, yeah. Some would say that I should not advocate eating as a way to deal with stress, but let’s face it – we all do it. So I choose to embrace the option. Order your favorite pizza, get some greasy fries or a hamburger, eat a 1000-calorie Cinnabon or the whole pint of ice cream. Go out to eat at your favorite restaurant and order the best thing on the menu, plus dessert. Eat. And don’t you dare feel guilty. It’s not like you do this sort of thing all the time. 😉
2) Imbibe. What is good food without good drink? Have an ice cold beer or a fancy cocktail with some obscure name. My personal favorite is a glass of good wine. If you don’t drink alcohol, try flavored sparkling water, 100% fruit juice or even a milkshake. As long as it tastes good going down and makes you feel relaxed and content, you have done what you set out to do.
And the number one way to relieve stress is, of course:
1) Get Lost. Grab a good book and allow it to transport you to another place and time, often by virtue of a story that dwarfs your problems in comparison. For me, I am happiest when I have found an engrossing book to read. One that is so captivating, I drop everything else until I am done reading it. Might I suggest No Greater Illusion if you are looking for that next absorbing read. 😉
Believe me – I know that some of the things on this list take time and/or money, but every single one of them is a strategy that you can try by yourself. Do one, do all, or anything in between. The small amount of time you invest in your sanity now will be priceless in the end.