Much has been written about the many effective ways to manage stress, such as meditation, breathing exercises, journaling, and other well-known strategies. Their benefits are proven, and they’re popular strategies for a reason. New Year’s resolutions often involve them, and adopting them as part of your daily life can add years to it. However, they’re not the only ways to relieve stress, and they may not even be the most effective ways for you to relieve stress.
This is because the best stress management strategies are the ones that you enjoy enough to practice regularly. If you don’t actually have motivation for meditation, for example, or if journaling feels like work, you may not get any of the benefits of these strategies because you just won’t do these things on a regular basis. Stress relievers that are truly enjoyable or that have built-in motivation features may be the best ones for you because they’re perhaps easier to incorporate into your life. Here are some that work well for many people:
Playing With Pets
For those who love animals, there’s a special peaceful energy that comes from taking five or ten minutes to caress a cat or love up a dog. Other types of pets can be great “stress-management tools” as well: Fish, rabbits, and even rats can provide their own soothing benefits. The best pets provide unconditional love and entertainment and stay in our hearts as they help us remember to stay in the moment.1How Having a Pet Affects Your Stress Levels
You probably already know that exercise is a great stress reliever, but creative exercise classes can provide you with extra help. The fun of learning something new can take your mind off your stressors, and the class atmosphere can foster a positive type of peer pressure to keep you wanting to show up – even when you really don’t feel like working out. Zumba, cardio kickboxing, and other classes can take the mind off of stress while helping promote health.
Many people really enjoy baking with their kids — it’s a fun tradition that helps parents and kids bond and stays in the present moment, and almost always ends in something warm and delicious. This can apply to many forms of baking, including classes or cooking with a spouse. Baking provides comforting aromas and soothing, repetitive motions to keep you “in the now” as you’re baking and a delicious reward when you’re done. Put on an audiobook or some music if you don’t have any “helpers” with you, and you’ll enjoy it even more!
Seeking out situations that will bring out the laughter in you can help you relieve stress in a really fun way. Go ahead — be goofy! Consider the benefits to your health and well-being. Maintain a sense of humor about what stresses you, and you’ll be much less stressed by everything that life has to throw at you.
Many people find themselves involuntarily daydreaming when bored at work. But visualizations are actually great for stress management as well, so daydream with pride! Vividly imagine your best memories, visualize your success or walk yourself through a peaceful walk on a secluded beach. Giving yourself a mental break in this way is a quick and fun way to step back from your stressors and start fresh.
By Elizabeth Scott, PhD