November 2nd, or rather, the first Wednesday of November is National Stress Awareness Day. Stress is universal and impacts everyone, of all ages, at some point in their lives. It can be temporary and minor, or something more consistent and severe too. Thankfully, there are many stress busters out there – many ways to relieve and help overcome stress.
Did you know that stress can be good too? Psychologists have a term for it – it is called “eustress,” and is different from the bad stress in a few ways, like missing the element of fear. Good stress is the stress we experience while preparing for a party, or planning for a trip, before heading out to the stage when we are graduating, or getting ready to perform (even when with a group). It can help us be prepared for what is to come, to focus, and lends a level of excitement too.
However, where there is good, there is also bad. And when stress is bad, it can impact us negatively. So we need to help ourselves when this happens by using various tools and tips available to us, like these
Unique Stress Busters (and They’re Simple to do!)
First, I can vouch for each of these methods as I have used them one time or the other, sometimes to relieve stress, and at other times, to simply feel better than I was feeling before (even when not stressed). So you could also call them happiness boosters!
Secondly, each one is easy to do, requires not much effort, and depending on what you choose to create or play, can be done with things you already have (or needs nothing at all, except your commitment to feel better).
So let us dive into these 6 unique stress busters that will work for all ages.
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Go For Guided Imagery
This is meditation with a twist! It is basically picturing your “happy place,” and taking it up a notch by feeling it too. There are many guided imagery scripts that will help through the process, while being mindful of your breathing and your senses. Or if you are so inclined, simply do it yourself. As for me, I have pictured a library, a favorite beach, my backyard, and my childhood home, among others, for this exercise. Each one leaves me feeling better, even if I visualize or follow through the process for just a couple of minutes. Do it for 5 to 10 minutes to feel even better!
So, close your eyes, and find your ‘happy’!
Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation
So what is it? Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is a stress management technique developed by American physician Edmund Jacobson in the 1920s, and involves tightening and relaxing muscles throughout the body in a specific sequence. It helps you identify tension in your muscles while releasing it as well, thereby relaxing your body. Research shows that this also helps with providing other benefits, including helping to reduce emotional stress.
Affirmations are Amazing
Affirmations are positive statements and sayings that you use to encourage yourself and to boost self-esteem. They can help you keep negative thoughts at bay, to reduce stress, feel more confident, and better about yourself. When we repeat affirmations often and regularly, we help sculpt our mind to be stronger, happier, energetic, and well, better in every way; kind of like how exercising regularly helps us sculpt our bodies to be better.
So find the affirmations that you like, and that work for you. Write them down, read them out loud everyday, surround yourself with those positive words (maybe a poster or two, or the background on your phone or laptop), and soon you will find that those affirmations ring true! For affirmations can help us change, motivate us, and help us realize our goals.
- Affirmations should be in the present tense. “I am” “I do” “I have”
- Choose affirmations in alignment with your goals to be more effective.
- They should be positive, as in “I am strong” is positive; while “I am not weak” is negative
- They can be specific or generic; but being specific can have its benefits. Compare the generic “I am healthy” to the more specific “I am making smart choices in my diet” or ” I am full of energy”.
- Remember to keep them realistic at the same time
- We should be-lieve, be consistent, and be proud of your affirmations.
- Write them down, keep them in a visible place, read them out loud everyday, and remember to use them anytime you feel any negative thoughts creeping in.
The process of creating something is healing and joyous in itself, and the end result can be so very satisfying (no matter how it is :-)) So go ahead and create something, maybe a drawing or a delicious dish; a painting or a poem; click a pic and frame it, or make a clay sculpture; start a scrapbook or journal; or simply pick up one of those many beautiful coloring books, like Johanna Basford’s World of Flowers!
Play! It is definitely not work, right? And play can help us relax instantly, easily, and bring joy as well. It can be a game of any sort, maybe something like basketball by yourself or with a friend; maybe hopscotch too (I know I still enjoy this!).
It does not always have to be a physical one; you can even pick a board game (could be something fun like the Hues and Cues I featured a while ago ; or even a little ridiculous like Poo Pocalypse. Or you could choose or this feel-good one called Totem that is a great family game night game.
Dancing yourself silly can also be a form of play, or relive childhood days by building a fort or pretend play! Or play some music – well, if you play an instrument, you can do that, or simply put on some music (Well, here, I really used a different connotation of the word ‘play’ with music, but music is a great stress buster too!)
Hug a Loved One (or Ask For One)
A hug can work wonders. A Bollywood movie – Munna Bhai MBBS – uses this tagline/oft-repeated line – Jaadu ki jhappi – meaning magical (Jaadu ki) hug (jhappi). And it is so true, a hug is magical. Well, it is also scientifically proven that a hug can help release pheromones – the happiness hormones.
Focus on Your Senses
Simply be; breathe deep; smell a favorite scent – maybe a perfume, an essential oil, or even coffee; squeeze a stress squishy or mold playdough; practice yodeling (it is fun!) or listen to your voice as you read out a favorite book out loud; relish some dark chocolate; close your eyes and focus on the sounds around you, wherever you are; find a beautiful painting to admire, or something in nature; do cloud watching; the list is endless. The point is to focus on your senses.
h/t, References, and Further Reading
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) for Anxiety (Healthline)
- InnerHealthStudio for Guided Imagery Scripts
- The Benefits of Guided Imagery and How To Do It (Healthline)
- What are Affirmations and Why You Should Use Them? (Strive.co)
- 31 Powerful Affirmations (medium.com)
- Check out this website Project Semicolon.
Books Are Stress Busters Too
Of course, I will be among the first to tell you that books are great stress busters. While reading in itself helps you relax, here are a few non-fiction books today that talk about stress and how to deal, in one way or another. I have read all of these books, many fully and some partly (like an essay from the book elsewhere, or just skimmed through the book to get an idea). Skipping the reviews -and just adding quick comments on them for this post, but be assured that these are books I recommend wholeheartedly.
- The Happiness Project: I read this even before it was a book; when Gretchen Rubin started her blog which eventually became the basis for this now ‘everywhere’ book.
- Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff . . . and It’s All Small Stuff. This book is small, and powerful.
- Who Moved My Cheese? We were actually given copies of this book at work a few years ago; almost “required reading” for us! But it is worth it.
- It’s All Absolutely Fine: Life Is Complicated So I’ve Drawn It Instead. A surprisingly witty and delightful approach to the serious issue of mental health.
- Think Like a Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day. Jay Shetty is a global phenomenon and reading this book shows one of the reasons why.
- Mindfulness for Teens in 10 Minutes a Day. I looked into this book while trying to find ways to help my own teens deal with the everyday stress that high-school brings with it, and it was a worthy find.
- You, Happier: The 7 Neuroscience Secrets of Feeling Good Based on Your Brain Type. The cover caught my attention, as did the title; and I am glad they did. It is a fascinating read into our brains, and also reaffirms that our happiness is ours to make.
- 50 Ways to Feel Happy. I read this book, thanks to NetGalley, a while ago. It is geared towards young children but will work for everyone.
- A Monk’s Guide to Happiness. Filled with wisdom and tips from a monk who teaches without preaching and guides readers towards happiness!
Related Stress Busters Reads
- A Little Music to Lift Moods & Worry Worries
- Dear Diary – Here is a Day For Wonderful You
- 10 Little “Anythings” That Can Make Anyone Happy, Anytime
And Now, the End of This Stress Busters Post
Dear reader, which of these unique stress busters will you try out for yourself? You do not need to be stressed to try them out, for as I mention, they will help you feel better always. So if you are fine and dandy, you will feel finer and dandier! And what about the featured books? Have you read any of them? If yes, your thoughts on them? If not, which one would you pick for yourself?