Feeling stressed? Ten ideas to help you find a moment of Zen


Image credit: Stress by Bernard Goldbach, on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.

National Public Radio (NPR), thanks to its week-long series focusing on stress, has got me focusing on my stress. I didn’t need much of a reminder–I often finish the work week ready to dance into the weekend like Ellen DeGeneres after a triple shot of espresso.

Sometimes stress is a good thing, like when you’re in danger and need to make a quick escape from a predator (or meet a work deadline), but according to the reporting from NPR (and the advice of my mother) too much stress, experienced too frequently, takes its toll on our health. When we’re overwhelmed, we tend to cut back on the self-care practices that would actually help us manage our stresses more effectively–things like maintaining a healthy diet and exercising on the regular. I know I’m guilty of it (and, dang it, the guilt makes me feel more stressed) and these behaviors can lead to health issues down the road, another source of stress.

So how can we give ourselves a break from stress and find a moment of Zen?

It’s important to find ways to give ourselves a time out from the things that are stressing us out. In addition to making sure you eat right, exercise and get plenty of rest, here are a few methods that can help you find some calm and rejuvenation and better weather the storm:

  1. Take a break from the news, hearing all the sensationalized doom and gloom adds to oppressive stress. (Don’t worry, if some earth-shattering event occurs, you’ll hear about it.)
  2. Be childish. I don’t mean throw a temper tantrum over how unfair your current upset is. Find an activity that you loved to do as a child and participate in it for a while. I dare you to feel stressed out when you’re swinging in the park or coloring in a Sesame Street activity book.
  3. Take a hot bath. Add a bath product that contains a soothing scent, like lavender, and soak your cares away.
  4. Take a hike, but not in a “take this job and shove it” kind of way. Exercise is a great stress management tool.
  5. Do some yard work. Whipping your yard into submission is cathartic and it makes your home look better, too.
  6. Meditate or practice a meditative act like reading or crafting. Basically, just do anything that shifts your focus and gets the hamster running around in your brain to take a nap.
  7. Laugh. Need a quick pick me up? Go to YouTube and look up “Babies Laughing.” Do it now. It’s impossible not to laugh along with them.
  8. Hang out with friends, but only those who make you feel good. Stay away from frenemies and Debbie Downers.
  9. Participate in a little “armchair travel.” Need a vacation, but can’t take one at the moment? Plan a trip anyway. Learn about some of the places you’d like to visit, watch some travel shows, check out accommodations online, etc. You might even find an option that you can fit into your schedule and budget, making a trip happen sooner than you thought it would!
  10. Drink a hot (non-alcoholic) beverage. Even Dr. Sheldon Cooper understands when people are upset the cultural convention is to offer them a hot beverage.

Because I feel like I’m always carrying around some stress, what tips to you have for me? I’d love to hear what you do to keep your stress under control.

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