I know! I know! Meditation is often thought the “be all, end all” for having a healthy mind-body-spirit- connection. And its considered an absolute must do if you want to beat that infamous health buster known as “stress”.
While meditation is an excellent approach for optimizing your overall health, and is a great stress buster, there are other options out there if meditation just isn’t your thing.
The primary purpose of meditating is to calm the mind, detach from our emotions, and relax our physical body. And while there are numerous ways to meditate, there’s also more than one way to skin a cat.
So if meditation just doesn’t work for you, let’s talk about some other things you can try in order to kick stress to the curb.
Spending a bit of time every day writing out your thoughts is a great way to relieve stress. My favorite exercise is gratitude journaling where I list 3 things every day that I’m grateful for. Before bed you can do a “brain dump” where you just write down everything that pops into your head to all your thoughts and ideas out before you try to go to sleep in order to help soothe the mind. And if you’re a goal setter, you can use “ever since” journaling to describe your life after you reach your goals.
We often read to learn something new and advance our current knowledge or skill set. But you can also read for the pure pleasure of it. There’s nothing like letting yourself relax by curling up on the couch or porch swing and getting caught up in a story.
Adult coloring books have become very popular lately. And no, not “that” kind of adult. We’re talking coloring pages with lots of intricate details and itsy bitsy areas to color in. Something that can take hours. Although you can always choose to let your inner child out and nab one of your kids coloring books. Sometimes its fun to be silly and keep things simple. The idea is the same no matter which coloring book you choose. Focusing on your creation and performing repeated movements help clear the mind.
Knitting or crocheting (or other crafts)
Yarn crafts like knitting and crocheting are a great way to de-stress and is available to all skill levels whether you are an absolute beginner or an old pro. You can choose a simple pot holder or a king sized blanket. The pattern, size, and yarn are all up to you. Once you get the basics down, yarn crafts are a great way to unwind. You can relax your mind and create some heart warming gifts that are extra special because they came directly from you.
One of my favorite ways of de stressing (after meditation of course) is with gentle body movements. Slower and less intense activities are ideal. Walking, yoga, stretching, tai chi, or qigong are all great ways to move the body and relax the mind. They also help to improve your strength and balance at the same time.
Sleep in or take a nap
Lack of sleep is a major and one of the most common causes of a rise in your stress hormones. Too much stress and too little sleep go hand-in-hand. If you want to break free from the stress roller coaster without having to meditate, getting enough good quality sleep is vital and non-negotiable.
Spending some time pampering yourself regularly is great for the body, mind, and spirit. Everybody needs some “me” time. And you absolutely deserve it! When’s the last time you had a massage or a mani/pedi? Maybe a long bath or lighting some candles is your thing. Add some relaxing, soothing music to the mix for a really relaxing evening.
Spend time in nature
While a calm, beautiful beach or mountain cabin sounds absolutely amazing, you don’t have to go on vacation or plan a getaway to relax. Even spending time on the grass in your own back yard can be beneficial. And if you want to get away from the house, visiting your local park, playground, or walking on a wooded trail in your neighborhood can do the trick.
Make time for people and pets you love
We all know how important spending time with family, friends, pets, and the people we love is. But we often let life distract us. Starting today, make those that are important to you a priority. Research is now showing how health issues can be related to loneliness. So reach out and plan to hang out with your besties. If you don’t’ have a pet, you might even offer to take your neighbor’s dog for a walk. And don’t forget to invite your neighbor! 😊
Our goal is to reduce our stress levels. How you do that is not really important. Finding what works for you, be that meditation or gentle exercise, is what’s important. Everyone is different so no one thing will work for every body.
Try journaling, reading, coloring, knitting/crocheting, gentle exercise, sleep, pampering yourself, spending time in nature, and making time for people and pets you love. You won’t know which one works best for you unless you actually do them.
IF you have other great ideas, let me know. I’d love to hear how what helps you de stress.
P.S. You might want to give essential oils a try also. I’ve added a nice calming recipe below to get you started.
Recipe (calming): Lavender Essential Oil
Instructions to inhale directly
Add up to 6 drops of undiluted essential oil to a handkerchief/tissue and inhale occasionally. Use up to 3 times per day.
Instruction for steam inhalation
Add 3 – 12 drops of undiluted essential oil to a bowl of steaming water. Inhale slowly and deeply for 5 – 10 minutes. Use up to 3 times per day.
Tip: Lavender isn’t the only calming essential oil. You can also use angelica, balsam, benzoin, bitter orange, cedarwood, celery, chamomile, cornmint, cumin, curry, frankincense, grapefruit, jasmine, juniper, labdanum, laurel, lemongrass, marjoram, nutmeg, palmarosa, parsley, patchouli, peppermint, rose, rosewood, sage, sandalwood, scotch pine, spearmint, star anise, sweet basil, sweet orange, thyme, or ylang ylang.