Stress… it might be going too far to call it a blessing, but it can be the disguised kind of blessing if we shift our perspective a titch.
Stress can literally kill you. It can also be something that causes us to reassess our lives and be willing to try new approaches to relieving our daily anxieties.
Being curious about how my friends creatively address this challenge, I recently posted a question on Facebook: “What are your favorite destressing techniques?”
Here are a few of the brilliant responses. Just reading them makes me feel more relaxed!
(My favorite destressing activities are at the end.)
Kathryn: I have reduced my obsessive reading of politics and am focusing on the many things I find beautiful in life. More walks in nature and to the ocean are part of personal changes I am making in my life in addition to attending gallery openings and going to the movies more.
- Turn off the news. –Edyta
- Saying the Lord’s Prayer. –Donna
- Yoga, meditation, hot baths, writing, walking, drawing, and painting. –Mary
- Drawing and painting. –Jeffrey
- Playing my guitar. -Steve
- You mean besides drinking wine and guzzling beer? Swimming! –Sarah
Sandra: Music, dancing, sex, cooking, and 1-minute breathing meditations. The Calm app on my phone helps me fall asleep.
- Deep breathing and prayer. –Linda
- Swimming laps then soaking in the hot tub. -Patty
- Meditation, cat time, countryside driving, a nice red wine. –Robert
- 20-minute meditation every night whether I want to or not. –June
- Baths, tea, walks, Xfiles, and Triscuits. -Derek
- Walking in the forest. –Colleen
Lawrence: Yoga asanas; you can do a simple set at home. Also Transcendental Meditation — been doing it twice a day for decades.
- Pranayama works very well, and it’s free. –Skip
- Emotional Freedom Technique, Reiki, Mindfulness Meditation. –Jerry
- Massage and physical therapy! -Marilyn
- Daily meditation. -Carolyn
- Napping. -Sophie
- Cardio, strength training, yoga and sculpting. –Mustafah
Kathleen: Relaxing in my backyard is first on my list. A 3-5 minute gratitude meditation helps, too, but first, shut the tv off and turn off the phone!
- Wild Turkey 101 -Ty
- Long walk and cup of tea! Works every time. -Theresa
- Poems and music, and foot massage! -Wendy
- Nature and photography. –Ineta
- Hiking and running. –John
- Laughing out loud. Dancing like no one is watching. -Mary
Kirk: See too much of the Orange Monster on TV or elsewhere? Go to the bathroom, put Comet in the toilet bowl, get the brush and scrub enthusiastically! FLUSH. Feels so much better. I call it The Movement. I have one of the cleanest toilets in Portland. Hey…join The Movement!
- Fly fishing. –John
- Meditation and hiking. -Debra
- Mixed martial arts. –Anne
- Swimming laps, painting, naps. -Deborah
- Eating chocolate. It isn’t very effective, but it’s my favorite. –Esther
Pamela: Walking the woodland trails surrounding my home; then down the trail that ends at the beach, where I will sit watching the ocean, the birds, the seals and sea otters with my dog. Just today we watched a bald eagle sitting on a branch observing his surroundings.
- Dancing to funk in my living room!! -Arlene
- Watching the sun rise or set. -Valerie
- Wine by a fire. -Dennis
- Yoga, and the clean quiet space in which it takes place. -April
- Meditation. –Ali
- Cooking for others. -Jennifer
Kathy: My son’s a firefighter; they’re required to work out at the gym after responding to a traumatic event, before they see a counselor, to deal with the emotional stress. I began practicing yoga 45 years ago, and that’s helped me, as an immediate way to relieve stress.
- Sleep. –Cherie
- Breathing, walking in nature, dancing. –Alisa
- Holding my cat, watching the ocean. –Carmen
- Beach time, music, art. -Reina
- A nice run outdoors, if not that, a good run on the treadmill. -Bryan
Martha: A short break and sort of “emergency” child’s pose can do wonders. Cleaning and organizing can clear physical and mental space. Listening to Gregorian chants and water crystal healing are two more.
- Massage, as often as possible. -Leonard
- Epsom Salt bath as hot as you can stand it, plus clean sheets. -Robin
- Making music, long hot baths, and Xanax. -Tiffany
- Nature hikes to clean up my local beaches and trails. -Katherine
- Dancing with reckless abandon! -Lance
Spending time with two of my favorite young humans, Isa and Joey, being in nature, bird watching, and photography are my favorites for reducing stress. Comedy is high on my list, too!
It also helps to practice shifting your perspective. Rather than thinking about how awful things are, as Mr. Rogers famously said, “Look for the helpers,” the ones who show up to speak up for those with no voice; the ones with the courage to confront injustices; the ones who do something every day to make life better for another human being.
People are showing up in massive numbers in support of human rights and Democracy, perhaps like never before, and are forming new and innovative coalitions. Our commitment to the common good is inspiring and is overwhelming politicians who are invested in maintaining the status quo.
The message, as always, is to find effective ways to take care of ourselves during this challenging and exhilarating time, and to be mindful of our own mental and physical health. Creativity and play, I’ve found, are the best antidotes to stress. So, whatever refreshes your mind and spirit, do it — and do it often.
The tide is turning. Spring is coming. It’s a great time to be alive!