Holy cow, I have been stressed out lately! I’m usually sort of stressed out all the time, but this past week has been especially bad. The problem is that when I get stressed out, every good habit I have tends to fall apart and I end up in a downward spiral that makes my stress worse and not better. I miss the days when I was younger and stress would just make me sleep. After a good nap or a long night of sleep, I would usually feel better. Not so as an adult. I have come to know the term insomnia over the last year. Uncool.
So, what are some ways to cope with stress?
- Take a bath – It is totally worth the effort of cleaning/rinsing out the tub for a bath. I like to add an aromatherapy bath packet or some bubble bath for extra fun. It doesn’t need to be a long soak. (Let’s be honest, I’m much too fidgety to sit for long.) Just long enough to let the warm water relax you and to let your mind take a break. For extra points, light a candle (I leave mine on the counter or some other safe place. The side of the bathtub is not a safe place.) and turn out the lights.
- Take a nap – Sometimes you just need to get away from your life. I managed to take a nap today and it was well worth the time invested. Between the sleep deprivation and my overactive brain, I needed that time out. This is not as easy to accomplish as it once was, but it is still a great way to catch a break when you can manage it. Even 20 minutes is helpful.
- Get a massage – Most people I talk to are amazed that I get massages on a sort of regular basis. The most common complaint I hear is that they are expensive. Well, I’ll tell you this – massages are cheaper than visiting the doctor and they are a lot more enjoyable. I think that they are well worth the investment. I am a terrible sleeper and after I get a massage, I get the best three nights of sleep that I’ll have until my next massage. I have a massage therapist that I go to and I like having that relationship in place. However, if you are really crunched for money, try snagging a Groupon or Living Social deal for massages. Using those coupon services is also a great way to try out massage therapists without investing the full amount of money. You can also ask for people to buy you gift certificates for massages.
- Clean – Being of the fidgety type, cleaning is usually very soothing to me. Usually sweeping is pretty calming. Cleaning also clears visual clutter, which can help your mental state. I always feel more stressed with a messy environment, so cleaning can really help my stress levels.
- Talk to someone – Call, text, IM a friend or family member. Venting can do wonders for stress. I thought I was going to lose my mind the other day when my plans suddenly changed on me and affected other people who were counting on me. I ended up taking some time to vent to a friend online and a friend happened to text me during that stressful period and chatted with me over text as well. I got through that stressful period and I managed not to lose my sanity.
- See a therapist – Not everyone likes the idea of seeing a therapist. Everyone has their reasons. However, a therapist can be immensely helpful at helping you learn coping skills and helping you gain insight into what might be causing you stress in your life. Unlike your friends and family, they have a more objective view of what is going on in your life and they have specialty training to help you through stressful events in life. If you feel stuck or want to make some changes in your life and don’t know where to start, try a therapist. If you’re attending school, most schools offer counseling services for free or for a discounted price. The other thing to keep in mind is that therapy is not always a long and drawn out process. Sometimes all you need is a few sessions.
- Start saying no – You would be surprised at the number of things that you don’t have to do in life. Usually, I have a running list of things I should do in life. Turns out most of those things are not shoulds and I don’t need to do them. So, start saying no and simplifying things. You’ll be surprised at how much better you’ll feel.
- Socialize – When I’m stressed, I tend to isolate myself. Sometimes I need time alone, but sometimes the distraction of socializing with other people is what I really need. Socialization helps me also realize that the world won’t end and that other people have problems, too. Socialization that involves a drink or two can help the stress levels as well. I’m not advocating heavy drinking, but one or two drinks can be relaxing on occasion.
- Hugs – In college, there was a lot of hugging and it was good. Getting or giving a hug to someone can bring down your stress levels. I know that there have been studies done on hugging, but I can’t remember where those studies are on the Internet. Just trust me on this one. Get a hug from someone you like or give one to someone and instantly feel better.
- Go for a drive – I like driving and sometimes the only way to clear my head is to get out of the house and go for a drive. A drive is good when I need to get out of the house, but I’m not interested in seeing people. It’s a good way to get some space to think away from the environments that are stressing you out. You can also turn on some music and sing on the top of your lungs if you want to. Although, sometimes a quiet, meditative drive is in order.
- Seek out some nature – This is something that I crave when I’m stressed. I have some parks that I know are peaceful and quiet that I like to go to. I like places with water, but whatever works for you, go for it. I try to avoid noisy or busy parks because that’s just more stress. Your backyard can work, too, if you have one.
- Drink some tea – There is something inherently relaxing about drinking a hot drink. You can’t drink it quickly and so you’re forced to take your time. Of course, if you don’t like tea there is also coffee, hot chocolate, and hot apple cider. Take your pick and breathe a big sigh.
- Take deep breaths – Speaking of sighs, take some deep breaths…preferably clean outdoor air, but sometimes you don’t have choices. Deep breathing can be very relaxing. Just make sure you’re sitting or laying down because you can get dizzy (or maybe that’s just me).
- Exercise – Sometimes you just need to work your stress out. A good sweat session can help you release some energy and get some endorphins going. What’s not to like? When I’m frustrated and angry, I like boxing and sparing, but really even a good weight lifting or cardio session will do the trick.
All right, I’m ending the list here. I was trying to make 10 items and then the ideas kept coming, so I kept going. By now, you’re probably stressed from the length of this list. Just take one or two and start getting that stress under control!
I’m off to blow off some steam with some socializing (number 8).