01 Jun 10 Quick Stress Relievers for Exhausted Creatives and Others
Much as we’d like to be calm all the time, sometimes we need quick stress relievers to get back to sanity. This can be when we are trying to be relaxed workers, parents, or friends, as well as when we are trying to carve out time for ourselves to be creative. When we are stressed we usually know that we need to relax, but can’t think – in the moment – just where to start. Here are my top ten easy things to try:
This needs no special equipment or preparation. Sit in a comfortable chair or lie down. Calm yourself by breathing in deeply through your nose, then out through your mouth. As you feel calmer, repeat a phrase over and over to keep your mind busy, and to let all other thoughts float away. (There are many apps to help you meditate, but my favorite is the Insight Timer.)
2. Breathe Deeply
For a short period, sit and simply breathe deeply. Breathe down deeply into your stomach, then breathe out again. Count the breath in for four, pause, then breathe out for a count of eight. Pause again, then repeat for about five minutes.
3. Be in the Moment
When you are stressed there are too many ideas fighting for attention. Give yourself a brief timeout by simply looking at your hands, your surroundings, the view out of the window. Don’t try to analyze it, just look, breathe, and pay attention to what you are focusing on. Give yourself five minutes of just being present, not trying to control or react to anything. It is oddly calming.
4. Ask for Help
Sometimes we get so caught up in our stress, we can no longer see the problem clearly. If this is the case, talk to a friend or relative. It is old school and not particularity radical, but sometimes a new perspective on what is bothering you will offer a gleam of hope that the problem can be solved.
5. Scan Your Body
Sit or lie somewhere comfortable. Starting at your feet, just mentally scan your body. If you feel tension, try to relax that area. Work your way all the way up or down, and see where you are tense and what specifically you are feeling at that place. Oddly, you often get a phrase appear in your mind that helps you understand the problem better…
6. Try a Warm Face Cloth
Remember how good the heated facecloths used to feel at the end of a long flight? Dampen a facecloth with water and microwave it for 30 seconds or so. Check the temperature isn’t too hot, and then place the cloth over your eyes and relax as it cools.
We all know how good we feel after we’ve had a good laugh. Find an old TV episode that you love, a video online, or simply make yourself start to laugh. Make sure it is a really deep, belly laugh, and keep it going as long as you can. You’ll feel better when you stop.
8. Play Calming Music
Create a playlist of music and/or sounds that help you relax. If you are short on time, Spotify has some lovely playlists to try. Turn it on, sit comfortably, and let your body rest.
9. Move Your Body
If time is short, go for a quick walk around. Go up and down stairs, take the long route to another office, take a walk around the parking lot – even walk in place as you work. Whatever you can do, it will help bring your stress down. Even a series of shoulder rolls, head rolls or arm swings will work in a push!
10. Be thankful
When we are stressed we aren’t very grateful or thankful, so when things are quieter, such as when you are settling down to sleep, run through the things you are grateful for. If you have time make a list of things you are grateful – maybe on your phone for easy access. It is difficult for us to be simultaneously stressed and grateful, so take a gratitude break when things get a bit out of hand.