Stressed Out? Here Are 12 Ways to Find Your Chi
OK, so I've been wanting to write a blog for some time now about stress; what the signs are, its impact on daily living and the ways to relieve it. So, what's stopped me you may ask? It finally hit me the other day while talking to a co-worker: I've been too stressed! Immediately Alanis Morissette's song Ironic
comes to mind.
The inside of my head is just one big mess of sticky notes telling me I need to get started on a new project, finish several projects I'm already working on, get gas, go to the grocery store, straighten up because the cleaning lady is coming (I know, ridiculous, but I'm not the only one who does this!), figure out how I'm going to get to a dance recital and gymnastics competition on the same day, at the same time. . . The list goes on. I'm like those people in the commercials for Bing search engine where someone says something and the other person starts spewing facts, except I'm both the person saying something and the person spitting out random facts and thoughts. It can get pretty loud in my head.
I've known for some time that I need to slow it down a bit and chill out. The first sign has been my sleepless nights. It's not that I'm not sleeping at all, I just can't stay asleep. Like clockwork, 3:30 a.m. comes and BOING, I'm wide awake. My thoughts once again leap into action and the chaos in my head ensues.
My tipping point was when I recently awoke in the middle of the night (3:30 a.m. on the dot!) feeling anxious. I wasn't scared and I didn't have any pain, I just couldn't get comfortable or relax. I realized I needed to seriously do something about the amount of stress I have been feeling lately. So I made a list (I was up anyway) of things that have helped me "chillax" in the past and vowed to get started the next day.
So here are my top 12 favorite ways to relieve stress that you may find helpful, too.
- 1. Exercising: I have to be honest, this is hasn't always been top on my list and there are days when I still groan about exercising. However, studies show that exercise boosts our energy levels and "feel-good" endorphins that can help relieve stress and worrying, especially when you can hit something! A little gentle yoga can help, too
- 2. Eating comfort food: OK, I know this is not always the best way to go. But a turkey dinner with all the trimmings always helps take the edge off, I think partly because it also makes me think of fun times with my family and friends. Also, I make sure to slow down and really enjoy my food, taking time to actually taste it for a change.
- 3. Taking a nap: This comes easy after eating turkey, but I also love being able to take a nap on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The key is not to feel guilty about it!
- 4. Enjoying a little libation: Sometimes a glass of red wine in the evening can help you get settled before bed. Just remember to enjoy responsibly.
- 5. Watching silly, senseless TV: Instead of watching the news all the time, I find some of the half-hour sitcoms help lighten my mood. And there's just something about seeing someone bounce off of big red balls on Wipeout that makes me giggle, which leads me to No. 6.
- 6. Laughing. . . uncontrollably: It's not often that any of us get to do this, but when you can laugh until you cry it really does change your mood. It's even better when you can do it with a good friend.
- 7. Reading a good book: I love getting lost in good story that takes me to another place and time.
- 8. Taking a warm shower: This is actually one of my mom's all time favorites and has become an inside joke when my siblings and I talk to each other about feeling overwhelmed. But mom was on to something. The warm water beating on those tense muscles does really help.
- 9. Crying: Sometimes when we let things build up inside a good crying jag is all it takes to help put things back into perspective.
- 10. Singing. . .out loud: I'll be the first to admit that I can't hold a tune to save my life, but that doesn't stop me from belting out my favorite songs. I love to do this when I'm busy in the kitchen or driving in the car, which leads me to No. 11.
- 11. Taking a long drive: There's just something about driving on the open road that calms me. I can put on some good music and sing out loud or just be quiet.
- 12. Praying and meditating: Sometimes just being quiet and still and knowing that a higher power has my back can help me find peace.
Read what ADVANCE Facebook fans do to relieve stress and share your favorite stress busters in our latest Life Support column on Nurses & Burnout!