1-Spend time alone, with God in a Tranquil setting. If you have a relationship with God the way I do, then spend time getting to know him better. If you don’t, that is ok. Try this anyway. Spend some time thinking about the possibility of God, and what that means to your life. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and entertain a variety of possibilities. Try praying. You don’t have to say anything fancy, just talk like you would to a regular person.
2-Spend time in a relatively stimulus-free zone. One example of this that works wonders for me is in the shower. I sit on the floor and hug my knees, sticking my head under the water so all I hear is white noise from the water running on my head. All I feel is the water. I focus on my body rhythms (breathing and heartbeat) until I begin to lose sight of whatever is stressing me out, and once I relax a little I allow my mind to wander. You might be surprised at how much more calm and sane you will feel after doing this for just a few minutes!
3- Spend time in nature without technology. Go for a hike in the woods (be sensible about this!), go to the beach and listen to the waves lap on the shore and enjoy the feeling of smooth rocks or fine sand against your skin. If you can’t get away, then just sit in your yard and watch the outdoor world at work. Notice the bumble bees, the little birds, the bunnies, the ants, the sun and the clouds; dwell on what a wonderful world we live in.
4-Allow yourself artistic expression when the desire strikes you. Weather this means finger painting, chalk on a sidewalk, markers, crayons, watercolors, fabric arts, performing arts, writing your thoughts or feelings or expressing yourself in whatever other way you can think of. Just do it. You don’t have to share it with the world if you don’t want to, but do it for yourself.
5-Listen to some of your favorite upbeat or soothing music. If it is at all danceable, then dance to it! I have been known to get my groove on when I am alone in the cheese room packing tub after tub of chevre’. Dancing burns calories, releases endorphins, is fun, and is expressive. Need I say more?
6-Sing! If you can’t/don’t like to sing, then hum! If you can’t/don’t like to hum, then whistle! Choose a cheerful song and play it in your head, singing, humming, or whistling along with it. My favorites (as the poor goats will attest if you ask them) consist mostly of songs from musicals or Disney movies.
7- Get active! Along with dancing, there are lots of other options for endorphin-release. Walk, run, bike, swim, or use an elliptical trainer, a stair stepper, a rowing machine or a variety of other cardiovascular fitness machines. Doing any of these for more than 20 minutes provides most people with significant stress-relief. Endorphins are the God-given happy drug. Utilize them!
8-Do something thoughtful for someone else. Wash a friend’s dishes for them. Mow your nieghbor’s lawn. Make dinner for someone going through something tough. Write someone a note of appreciation or encouragement. Send somebody flowers. Whatever you can do to brighten someone else’s day will also brighten you own, and it will help you to focus on something outside your troubles.
9-Count your blessings. As cliché as I know this is, it works. I keep a ‘blessings book’ where I journal about the many blessings I am thankful for. Sometimes I paste things into it or add a picture or draw a picture instead of writing. If I cannot think of things to be grateful for when I am stressed, I need only open it up and look. It always helps me shift my attitude to one of gratitude, and that makes most obstacles seem much more surmountable, and far less daunting.
There of course are many more ways to combat stress, but these are some of my favorites. I hope that these ideas prove helpful for some of you, as well.