by LA Jamison
As a person who has dealt with long term struggles of anxiety and depression, I have had to become a wiz at learning how to de-stress. Sometimes I still don't get it right but I'm light years better than I used to be. I used to carry with me my old driver license with the photo of me when I was under stress and not coping well and show people that. Then I would show them a comparison photo of the picture I have on driving license today. The difference was so dramatic. With years of study, workshops, groups and therapy, and an education in Education and Communication, I want to give you 4 quick things you can do to de-stress your life right NOW that aren't too overwhelming.
One--Have Your Sacred Space. People who are stressed don't often keep an uncluttered, private space for themselves to de-stress. They don't have room for that or time for that! Ya kidding me? Come on, man! For those married with children or those working multiple jobs, the options become less. But there are ways you can get creative. Your home bathroom, even your work bathroom, can be that space in the moments that you do have. Don't be so busy that you can't take a little extra time in the bathroom to de-stress. The space could also be the car trip to and from work. Are you spending that time fretting, planning, worrying so much that you hardly breath while you weave in and out of traffic? Instead, what about popping in some music or listening to something you find inspirational? What about picking out a song or a poem and reciting it to yourself on the way to work? Or how about praying or going over the positive affirmations you need to focus on instead of worrying yourself to work? How are you sitting in these places? Is your posture stressed and tense? Can you take some breaths or roll shoulders or head a little at a stop light?
If you do have the ability to have a space at your home, de-clutter that area and put things there that inspire you or that you may pick up to read or listen to. No matter if the space is your bathroom or your basement, set it up with quick remedies you can pull on when you are there that you don't have to go looking for. But even still, breathing , relaxing and stretching in these places can often be just what you need. A home away from home. If you hate your home, make the most of the space that you can. Re-structure the space and put your favorite things in that space. If home isn't a safe place, can you stop at library or coffee place for just a few and give yourself some space before trotting off to places that are less than safe or sacred? This is important to give your being some breathing room. These days everything is fighting for your attention but don't let your soul be abused and over-used. It needs to breath too.
Can you give yourself permission to shut off your technology and let your soul breath? Somehow the invention of the phone, let alone the cell phone, has given us this idea that we HAVE to answer every ring, tweet, email, post as it comes in. To de-stress now, unplug in your sacred places even if it is just for a few minutes at a time.
Two-Identify Your Number One Energy Drainer--If I were to ask you, what is the # 1 thing right now at the top of your mind that when you do it, afterwards you feel an energy drain, what would that be? Where you walk away feeling a bit more tired or your thoughts a little more waning? It could be something you are very good at and in demand for. Just because you are good at something, even great, doesn't mean you necessarily love doing it or even should have a large amount of yourself invested in it IF it's an energy drainer. The drainer might involve communication with another person or the lack there of. Whatever that thing is it is important that you identify it, limit it or remove it as much as possible. If you can't remove it, then really be sure to get into the next two points to counter balance the effects of the drain on your system.
Three--Reward Yourself--Once or ideally twice a week you should reward yourself by doing something special for you. This is something that is the opposite of an energy drainer. It is something that GIVES you energy, makes you feel refreshed, stimulated or even excited. It could be as simple as a hot bath. Maybe you could purchase a home massager. Maybe it is seeing a movie all by yourself, a special food item you like, calling friends you really enjoy. It could be as extensive as joining, doing, or buying something you have always wanted but have excused away. Something bigger that will continually reward you over time by its regular commitment to your life. A gift to yourself that keeps on giving. Whether its a weekly or monthly group like a choir or sporting club to a video game system you wanted or some hobby, invest in your happy place. Only you know you but my advice is think as far outside the box as you can. Don't only reward yourself but surprise yourself! Keep it simple but make it different. Do something you wouldn't normally do for yourself, that doesn't tax you but excites you a little. This step is very important in the face of energy drainers we all have that are just not going to go completely away.
Another treat to consider is sex. This may be a little riske' to say but it is scientific fact that one way to reward your body is sexual release in any and all its forms. It is proven that sexual release (orgasm) is a form of massage to the entire body including body organs. So this is one consideration to your reward list. Once a week or every other week at the bare minimum is what doctors recommend. Boom chicka wow-wow! Giddy-up!
Four--Get Down Into Your Body--From stress to more serious issues like anxiety and depression, all of these have one common trait; We are taken out of the consciousness of our bodies and self and into a realm of worries and the stress at hand. So many therapists in the cognitive behavioral world will teach you ways to come out of these stress modes through physical touch or breathing. That hasn't always worked for me in the moment 100% percent of the time (to be honest) but I just may not be good at it or my anxiety too high. However, I can say as practice of a every day de-stress routine, it sure does add up as a practice for healthy living even as something outside the stressful moment. Some ways to do it is through Yoga poses which you can do without getting into the whole mysticism behind them. Yoga is really about stretching. I know Yoga sounds complicated so here is a webpage you can go to learn some non-Yoga stretches that are much more simple that you can do right at home. EASY STRETCHING SAMPLES This is a great start.
Another addition is of course the dreaded word exercise. Joining a gym hits a multitude of these points. You de-stress by getting into your body. You can reward yourself with the amenities a gym has and I recommend you find a gym that has at least one amenity which you know will relaxes and re-energize your body. Exercise itself also re-energizes you and it can also be a part of your sacred space should you bring music or what not. But gym aside, it can be a simple as walking out in nature or the track that most local community centers and local schools have open to the public. You have to work that stress out of your body and there is no quicker way to do that than stretching (#3) and some form of exercise.
I hope this helps! Let us know what you do to de-stress in the comment section below! And stay tuned to GotWords? for more ideas on this and other things to come! Subscribe for free for a monthly condensed email sent directly to you on all the things posted going on at GotWords? And get in on promotions for my special free subscribers.