What do you do to manage stress?
One of the things that has helped me is going to a lookout along Pebble Beach Drive during my lunch hour. With gas prices being what they are, at first I just sat in my car to eat lunch. The building I work in is on the edge of a marsh and semi-forested area, so it seemed like a good idea. But I discovered I needed to get away from my job completely for that bit of time, and this view is just a couple miles from where I work. I park there, roll down my windows, and listen to the waves and seagulls. If I’m lucky, no one in a nearby vehicle has their radio/stereo on. I eat my packed lunch, and if there is time, I knit.
Breathing is a good way to relieve stress. I practice deep breathing, and it’s one of my favorite things to teach clients. You can do it even when other people are around, because it’s not obvious and you can continue whatever work you need to do. When you’re learning how to do it, put one hand flat on your breast bone, and one hand flat on your belly. Breathe as if you are breathing all the way down into your belly. Have you ever watched a dog, cat, or baby breathe? It’s their bellies that move. Imagine that air going all the way down into your belly. If you are doing it right, the hand on your belly will rise more than the hand on your upper chest. When you breathe like that, breathe slow. Breathe in for a moderate count of four, pause, then breathe out for a count of five. If you can remember to breathe in through your nose, and breathe out through pursed lips, that’s even better. Breathing like that calms the heart and relieves stress.
Another one of my favorites is a guided meditation, where you imagine your very own Safe Place. Pick a place you feel safe, a place you would love to be at. It can be a real place, or one you create entirely in your own imagination. Is it in a mountain cabin? Fishing on a river? Sitting in a meadow? In a beautifully furnished room? By the beach? In a cave? You choose. And I want you to use all your senses to imagine this place: What does it look like? Imagine all the details. What sounds do you hear? What smells do you smell? Can you taste anything? What are the textures, including the possibility of wind on your face? Is anyone or anything (such as an animal) there with you? Imagine it to the smallest details, and then spend time there. Eventually, when you are ready, mentally return to the world you are in, remembering you can go to your Safe Place anytime you need to.
There are dozens of other ways to relieve stress — things like . . .
- Listening to music
- Going for a walk
- Watching a movie
- Writing in a journal
- Playing a sport
- Going for a drive
- Cleaning house
- Arts and crafts
- Spending time with pets
Try to come up with at least two or three others that work for you. If you have trouble thinking about what would help you relieve stress, think of some of the things you used to love to do when you were a kid.