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Life is stressful these days. We can work on “stress management” or “stress reduction”. Personally, I find it more realistic to accept that life is indeed stressful, yet I have finally learned how to release stress. Sometimes.

In an ideal world, we would be on top of our game taking care of our emotional and physical health. The Mayo Clinic says we need 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Therefore, I am chronically sleep deprived! We know that we need healthy nutrition and regular exercise. I try to eat healthy and exercise, until I become too busy and stressed to do so! Time with friends and family help reduce my stress levels, except when our sons are squabbling. I know I am a great candidate for meditation, but I just can not sit still. I have too much to do!

We also know that stress raises our cortisol levels, and challenges our immune system functioning. Why is it so hard to take care of ourselves when we know intellectually what we need to do?

In the book, “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers” Robert Sapolsky describes an interesting perspective from the wilderness. Zebras have a lot of stress in their lives running away from lions, but then they rest and graze. In contrast, humans have a lot of stress, but rather than rest and graze, we worry and look over our shoulders for more lions!

If you are like me and want more relaxation and grazing in your life, let’s try some of these tips to release stress:

  • Schedule an hour to do nothing.
  • Read an entertainment magazine.
  • Make a pot of soup. Or if cooking is not relaxing for you, pour store bought soup into pot. Still smells good.
  • Talk on the phone to a friend without multi-tasking.
  • Take an afternoon nap.
  • Take a bubble bath- any time of the day.
  • Wander in a store-without a list.
  • Listen to music
  • Play solitaire
  • Hit bucket of golf balls
  • Have a glass of wine & dark chocolate
  • Play tennis
  • Have a cup of tea
  • Garden
  • Knit
  • Look at pictures in a book
  • Go for a walk
  • Read an escape novel
  • Sit quietly and do nothing.
  • Doodle
  • Laugh

What other ideas do you have to release stress in your life? I would love to hear them.

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This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. Excellent tips! I know one thing I have made a habit of doing is simply spending quality time with my wife. We call it our “15 minutes” and it is our time to just be a couple and talk after the kids go to bed each evening. It is really helpful to me to have this time set aside to get my thoughts out of my head and my burdens off of my shoulders. And she finds it really romantic!

  2. I love love that list, but you know, most of those things are the very things we feel guilty about doing! I remember the last time I wandered through Target or Pier 1 with no list, thoroughly enjoying it when I wasn’t beating myself up for wasting time.

    I am learning to slow down, and while this is on your list too, the best remedy is an afternoon nap. I so much love the early early mornings, so catching a nap in the middle of the day seems to push my reset button. It feels almost like I’ve got two days wrapped into one!

  3. Oh yes, I could benefit from more relaxation and “grazing” in my life. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies when we allow ourselves to be driven in a way that doesn’t ultimately serve us psychologically, emotionally, physically or spiritually.

    Funny thing is this this an area I continue to work on in my life – AND – it’s an area of my therapy practice that I am passionate about. Perhaps this is not so strange after all.

    I tell myself – and my clients – “Be kind to yourself. Take baby steps. Stop and breathe. Notice your surroundings.” It sure is easy to forget our own advice though isn’t it?

    Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT

  4. I take 10 minutes to breathe deeply and clear my mind. When you create a void, the world acts to fill it, so you need to clean out the clutter and replenish with positive thoughts and redirect yourself to your deeper goals.

    Finding a way to help someone else is also a great way to make yourself feel better.

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