Monday, April 25, 2011

Unique Stress Relievers

I had a really anxious day last week. Sometimes I'm amazed by how much jittery energy can flow through my body at one time, considering the “healthy” dose of anti-anxiety meds I'm on. In spite of "better living through chemistry," from time-to-time I find myself in need of something else to help calm my wild nerves. I've collected a couple of rather unique ways to cope, and I thought I’d share them with you in hopes that you find some inspiration!

1. At the Carwash ("work, and work...")
About a ten-minute drive from our house is an oasis of calm and peace: the Magic Carwash. There's something immensely soothing about this drive-through carwash:  from the shush, shush of the bright blue brushes that swirl around the car in a shower of foamy soapsuds, to the susurration of the long blue strips of chamois as the slide over the hood, and even the gentle swaying of the car as it's guided past each station. Sometimes, I imagine that I'm under the sea in a slowly swaying kelp forest, and since the ocean is one of my favorite places in the whole world, this fantasy gives me a sense of calm and rest. By the time my clean, shiny car slides out the other end, my spirit is restored and I'm ready to face the world with a peaceful heart.

Wheeeee....there goes my stress!
2. On The Swings
I've never been any good at sports, but I did learn one athletic skill in elementary school: how to pump my legs while swinging so I didn't need anyone to push me.  Even though I'm scared of heights, I’ve always found swinging to be a source of great joy. I still love an occasional ride on a park swing when I'm down, but the time when this brought me the most peace was when I was in college at CLU.  My junior year was the most stressful time I had as an undergrad, and I found myself in great need of a stress-reliever after tests or big presentations. I'm not sure how it started, but I developed a ritual of making the time to always spend 15 minutes on the swings in the park near my dorm room after each tough assignment or test was over. It always calmed me down, and sometimes, I even convinced a friend to join me!

3. My Bathroom
Okay, this one’s weird enough that I even contemplated keeping it to myself, but I find my bathroom to be one of my favorite places for stress relief!  We renovated our upstairs bathroom a couple years ago, and it has truly become my haven.  Decorated in my favorite colors, with a periwinkle blue floor and bright yellow walls, I find it both peaceful and energizing.  There are three huge windows under an eave, so I am able to enjoy sunshine without being too hot in the summer.  There are a million lights around our mirror, and every bulb is full-spectrum, to chase away my winter blues, but we have them on a dimmer, so I can turn them way down to take a comforting bath with candles.  My latest book is usually there, too.  The fact that it’s a place where I can shut the door and shut out the world has a lot to do with why I find my bathroom a perfect place to cope with anxiety.

4. The Beach…on an overcast day
Notice: gloomy beach = happy Laurie! :)
While I’m fairly certain a sunny beach is a favorite place for most people to relax, I find the beach helps me most when it’s overcast and deserted.  I like to walk on the cool, wet sand, listen to the seagulls and waves, and breathe in the sea air. Just the smell of the salt water makes me shoulders sink down to a healthy position and drives away any anxiety that has me in its grip. The gloomier the weather, the better…probably because it means I can be alone with my thoughts and enjoy my favorite place in the world on my own terms.  I stay away on those hot, sunny days when the beach is covered in sun worshipers, but if it’s overcast and cool, you can bet I’ll be down by the water!

5. Laughing!
Scientists have frequently touted the health benefits of laughter, and I’m sure you have your own “research” that supports their claim.  It’s hard to feel stressed or gloomy when you’re laughing until your sides hurt!  So laughing itself is hardly novel, but I find that what makes me laugh usually is.  You know when you’re in a theatre watching a movie and suddenly, you hear someone laughing loudly although everyone else is silent?  That’s me!  I have a strange sense of humor and things that make me laugh seem to rarely inspire others to the same response.  I find that absurdity and irony provide the kinds of laughs that make me feel everything will be alright, so when I’m feel anxious, I keep a look out for those kind of things.

Now that I’ve shared some of my more unique ways to handle anxiety, I’d love to hear what you do.  Please share your tips and tricks in the comments section; I look forward to learning some new ways to keep my cool!

No comments:

Post a Comment