Keeping stress levels down is critical for health and for sanity. Here are some relaxation techniques that may help. Make time for the ones you like, every single day!
- There is a specific book called Unf#ck Your Brain by Faith G. Harper. If you have endured any kind of trauma in your life, or have anxiety, depression, or PTSD, it's very much worth reading. Three other fantastic books for mental health include How To Be You by Jeffrey Marsh, The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday, and Simple Abundance: 365 Days to a More Balanced and Joyful Life by Sarah Ban Breathnach. I can't recommend them highly enough.
- Once a week every week, take a daylong vacation. It helps you keep an even keel.
- Every so often take a "mental health day" off work. This is just as important as sick days, especially if you've been so stressed lately you're starting to fray at the edges. You might want to discuss these days with your boss, but if they aren't understanding, just fake sick, no problemo.
- Check out this Twitter self care bot and its suggestions EverydayCareBot
- Get your essentials squared away: workout routine, meal plan and meal prep, work/income, "adulting" stuff. It helps.
- At least once a day take a whole hour to be completely unproductive and loll around, resting in bed, taking a bath, reading a book or whatever. Dude time, for ME! Dude Time
- Also at least once a day, take an entire hour to spend on something really important to you. For me that's playing music. For you it could be working on your car. Doesn't matter what.
- If you are capable of caring for a pet and don't have one, get one
- Take a good hard look at what stresses you out and scares you the most. Make a list of those things. Scratch out all the things that make no sense, leaving the ones that are important and relevant. Then every day do something concrete to prevent, mitigate, or fight those things. If necessary, create step by step plans to defeat each thing and follow them.
- "If you know a friend you can fully trust, Go often to his house Grass and brambles grow quickly Upon the untrodden track" - The Havamal Havamal
- Do a clean sweep of all the crap in your life. People who you want out of it, jobs that suck, living situations that are terrible, and so on. Define your ideal life and work your ass off to achieve it. Don't just wallow in a terrible situation because you "have to take it." You don't.
- Develop at least one hobby that you enjoy. If you enjoy it enough, use it as a side gig or as your main career
- Make time each day to dress to impress - yourself, that is.
- Find a spot that you really like, and go there when you're super stressed.
- Find a confidante that you can seek out to dump on when you're about to burst at the seams.
- Be aware that isolation will likely stress you out and make you go crazy. Paying $2 for some cheap coffee with which to excuse hanging out at the coffee shop all afternoon is a cheap price to pay for not going nuts. Or you can go hang out at the library. Or some cafeteria or other. Basically, just get the heck out of the house.
- Appreciate what you've got, no matter how small it is. This isn't yet another "OMG gratitude is the best thing ever" idea. It's a "take a look at how much worse things could be" idea linked to the old Buddhist one: reduce your desires to increase your happiness.
- Whatever you're working on, ask your friends to help. Many hands make light work, also socializing is good for you.
- Reduce your exposure to screens. That stuff saps your energy and increases your anxiety like nothing else.
- Do little rituals throughout the day where you mindfully appreciate each aspect of them. Examples follow.
- Severely restrict your access to social media and news except for what you truly need to see. Too often people get into the trap of panicking about things they can't do anything about. Strive to focus your search on just the information that you can use.
- Use good sleep hygiene, and possibly invest in a sleep mask and herbal dream pillow. Definitely splurge on a good mattress and pillows to prevent back problems.
- Be aware that internet addiction and work addiction are real things that can really stress you out. Try some suggestions from here Rachel Herron and from here Workaholics Anonymous if you have issues with overworking, and try to reduce internet usage to 1 hour a day, if at all possible.
- ***NEW 3/24/2020*** Every so often when you're starting to feel like you're stuck in a rut, break out the old standby: pretend you have only 24 hours left to live.
- Above all fight to stay true to yourself. Nothing's more stressful than pretending to be someone you're not.
- Making rock cairns
- Making and walking a labyrinth
- Making any kind of art
- Light a candle or incense if you have it, and just watch it
- Do a household task while focusing on it completely, being in the moment
- State and/or repeat a prayer, mantra, or affirmation when you feel overwhelmed and are taking a break. For instance, "I am worthy." Or, "I can do this." Or maybe "Time to kick some ass." Or do that old American ritual (LOL) of looking at yourself in the mirror every morning and saying "Looking good!!!" Don't fall into the trap of using a super complicated new age affirmation. Stick with something basic that makes sense.
- Give and/or get a backrub or massage. A good book for this is Massage by Clare Maxwell-Hudson. You might like to make time to give and/or get a massage once a week. These are great to give your significant other, and also great to give to babies. It can improve the health of the baby and improve parent-baby bonding. You can combine massage with aromatherapy for grown people, but never use essential oils on an infant or small child.
- Find a physical activity that gets your mind off things. Maybe basketball, or parkour, martial arts, skateboarding, dance... anything works. I guarantee you there's something out there that'll help.
- Do your best to think about mostly good things. One way to help is to feed your mind better, wholesome fodder. Yes, watching cat videos counts, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Learn about what charities do, or search "faith in humanity restored" on a search engine, or follow blogs like Kitten Witch and the Bad Vibes... or just spend more time with good people. Heck, do it all.
- Go outside and listen to the sounds there
- Make a crap ton of music playlists to listen to when you need them
- Get into the mindset of becoming consciously aware of your bad moods when you're having them. There is no such thing as too much introspection, especially if you find yourself having a panic attack or breakdown. Remind yourself that your emotions are not you. Get in the habit of watching them from inside your head and saying to yourself, "Interesting," then analyzing why you are having that emotion and if you can counteract it in some way.
- Swear more. Really helps.
- Watch an artist make some art live on Twitch
- Make your own personal mental support creation. What I mean by this is make a list (or multiple lists) of the things, people, places, and things that make you feel happy, safe, loved, and secure; the things that you really love. This can be amazingly positive memories, people who inspire you, things that uplift you, inspirations. Add to it the things that are "you," where and in what you feel at home, and anything else you think will help you live a happy life. Make these things conscious; write them down, make pictures of them if you can, or scrapbook it. Spend time focusing on this stuff every day. Keep it close to your heart and it will help you stay strong, centered, and happy. Credit: Lorica creation in Maiden Magick, by C.C. Brondwin.
- Learn something new. Maybe read a Wikipedia article, or watch some informative channel on Youtube.
- ASMR (the chills; a very relaxing sensation caused by "autonomic sensory meridian response") Liziqi Primitive Technology is the newest version of people sitting around looking at or listening to natural phenomenon. For instance, sitting by a waterfall, listening to rain, looking at the sky, watching/listening to a campfire, or listening to wind shake the leaves on trees. Or of doing some cleaning or cooking task or other in silence, appreciating the sounds and sights in a mindful way. One way of experiencing it is to meditate in a place with a pleasant sound and just listen so you can focus on that alone. Another is - of course - going hiking or camping. When I was little I used to climb on the roof and look at the stars. It's nice.
- Some things that trick you into a meditative state even if you don't like meditation: Spinning yarn, riding a motorcycle or moped, sailing, sewing, skateboarding, roller blading, surfing, gymnastics, parkour, knitting, coloring, yoga, sports in general, crochet, qigong, martial arts, breakdancing, hang gliding, swinging on a swing set, slacklining, and the list goes on
Some things that can make it more special:
- Add 3 drops essential oil of your choice to body wash or shampoo for aromatherapy. Good oils include lavender, peppermint, rosemary, rose, and spearmint. Actually anything that's used in aromatherapy can be used here, but steer clear of citrus if you'll be catching sun later.
- Play music in there
- Light candles
- Add crystals and flowers as decoration for ambiance
- Use bubble bath. Why not?
- Make an herbal infusion on the stovetop and pour it into the bath as it draws. General rule: Boil 4-5 c. water and add 2.5 tbsp dry herb or 4 teabags. Let steep for 10 minutes and strain, or take out the teabags. Good herbs to use include chamomile, rosemary, rose petals, green tea, and lemon balm.
Essential oils or fragrances that help with relaxation:
- Lemon balm
- Combination of frankincense and sandalwood
Burning incense may also help with relaxation, but this must not be done more than once a week or it can harm your lungs.
Cultures the world over take a break to grab some tea. The rituals vary, but the intent is usually the same - to achieve a moment of peace and quiet for self-care or socialization. Here are some herbs that are specific for reducing stress when brewed into tea. They work differently on different people so experiment to determine what works best for you:
- All the herbs mentioned above
- Japanese sencha, genmaicha, or other green tea
- Basically any high-quality Chinese tea (find these at an Asian food store)
- Dried orange peel - packaged orange-flavored teas often contain it. Take a look at the ingredients.
- Jasmine, gardenia, bergamot, and rose-flavored teas
- Ju hua - Chinese chrysanthemum
- Hawthorn berry tea - ask your doctor first
- Jujube and fresh ginger tea - only for use in cold weather and not for taking long term
- Chamomile, peppermint, lemongrass, and lemon balm teas are specific for insomnia. Or, steep a star anise, or some nutmeg, in warm milk. I like peppermint tea for insomnia but it may make other people more awake. Try things out, see what works for you.
- A salad with plenty of lettuce and some raw onion at dinner may be helpful.
- Lavender-stuffed small pillows can be put inside a pillowcase to assist.
- L-tryptophan pills or a dinner containing turkey can help.
- CBD oil helps if you take it right before bed. Be sure to eat a dinner rich in fat a few hours before bed, and then put the CBD oil under your tongue. Wait for it to absorb.
- Crack the window open. Underrated.
There are foods that help with stress relief. According to my research, these are also often herbs that promote longevity. They are:
- Fermented foods in general
- Salads in general
- Dark leafy greens
- Dark chocolate
Relaxing Music Albums
If you find that you enjoy this music, please support the artists by buying the album if you can. Recently, I discovered that Spotify isn't all that bad for streaming music. Youtube now has a music streaming service as well.