Ever have one of those days (or one of those weeks!) where anything and everything brings stress? Just when you think you’ve turned a corner – BAM! another problem comes along to take its place. Seems like a vacation is the only solution for leaving your troubles behind, but most of us can’t pick up and leave. Besides, the problems you left would still be there and probably have doubled by the time you unpack. So, lets be realistic and look at some genuine, tried and true stress relievers.
- Throw up My friend coined this phrase for venting. When she needs to relieve stress and vent about all the trouble and turmoil in her life, she comes over and “throws up.” Of course, I have my days too so it balances out. Instead of throwing up over coffee and cookies we head outside and take a hike or a power walk. It’s amazing how talking it out and exercising can really help clear your head. We usually find solutions to problems that started out as mountains but became molehills as we turned the corner home.
- Sweat out stress I know, you’ve heard it a hundred times before but it really does work! Sure it would be easy to plop down on the couch and watch some mindless dribble on TV. But the science is clear. When you get physical, serotonin and dopamine (those coveted feel-good hormones) are released. What’s released when you watch TV and eat cheese doodles? Gas, probably. I recently had a client who was in the midst of a traumatic personal loss and she still showed up for her session. Why? Because she knew she needed a reprieve from the situation and her mind and body connection would benefit from the workout.
- Serenity now! So, Frank Costanza wasn’t so convincing when he anxiously said, “Serenity now!” in that Seinfield episode but mantra’s, phrases, quotes and scripture can really help you get through a difficult day. Unlike Frank you need the right attitude first to really find a mantra that works for you. Try Googling inspirational quotes and phrases or scripture references. Write them down and keep a copy near you at all times until you’ve memorized it.
- Don’t come out of the closet This can be a productive spot for a grownup time-out. I have been known to sit on the floor in my walk-in closet, kill the lights and close the door. Give yourself five minutes, (tell the kids no knocking on the door) and use that time for, prayer, meditation or slow, deep breathing. This time-out can give you enough respite to carry on with your responsibilities.
- Sharpen your knives Ever notice how many empty calories you chow down when you’re stressed? It starts out with one chip, then a handful and suddenly you’re reaching for the crumbs at the bottom of the bag! Instead of processed food that will spike insulin and stress hormone levels, sharpen your knife and get cutting. Pop in a soothing jazz CD, pour a glass of red wine (higher in antioxidants and resveratrol than white) and chop and dice some fruits and veggies for a delicious salad or stir fry.
- Something smells good! I’m one of those people that walk into a cafe and instantly feel calm. I just want to sit, sip, read and relax. Heck, I’ve been known to brew coffee at home just for the comforting aroma it gives me. Aromatherapy is a legit way to relieve stress. A few drops of lavender, chamomile and rosemary can really help settle your cranky pants. Studies have shown that lavender boosts levels of dopamine and serotonin. Just mix 10 drops of lavender with two cups of water in a spray bottle. Spray your bedroom and pillow before bedtime.
- Get the write kind of rest If you don’t have a willing participant to throw up and walk with, try relieving your stress before bedtime by writing it out in a journal. It’s the same principle as throwing up. Instead of a friend your pen will be your confidant. Journaling captures your emotions on the page and helps you sort it all out. In addition, I would recommend adding a thankful section. When you recall the things you were thankful for during the day, you just may take the focus off your problems and fall asleep counting your blessings.
Lisa Marie Conklin is a certified personal trainer and freelance writer.