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Stress Relieving Activities

The year 2020 has been a pretty stressful one for everyone, which can have a negative impact on our mental health. In this post, I have listed a number of different stress relieving activities to try at home. A few of these activities have been mentioned in previous posts related to self-care, but some new activities have also been added!

Being under pressure is a normal part of life. It can help you take action, feel more energised and even get results. But if you become overwhelmed by stress, it can begin to have a negative impact. Stress isn’t a psychiatric diagnosis, but it is closely linked to your mental health in two important ways:

  • Stress can cause mental health problems, and make existing problems worse. For example, if you often experience and struggle to manage feelings of stress, you may develop a mental health problem like anxiety or depression.
  • Mental health problems can also cause stress. You might find coping with the day-to-day symptoms of your mental health problem, as well as medication, can become extra sources of stress.

Stress can also have an impact on our physical health, with ways including:

  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Upset stomach

There can be many different reasons for this, as stress can often make it hard to sleep or eat well, both of which can affect our physical health. It can also be a result of hormones. When we feel anxious, our bodies release hormones called cortisol and adrenaline. If you are often stressed, then your body may be producing high levels of these hormones, which can make you feel physically unwell, which as a result can have a negative impact on your mental health.

In this post, I will list a range of different activities that I have personally used to help relieve stress. Again, I would like to point out that these activities should not be used as a substitute for professional help, and I urge to speak to someone if you feel you cannot manage your stress. On that note, let’s get started!

I have mentioned the benefits of colouring in previous blog posts, and it is most definitely one of my go-to activities when taking a mental health day. Colouring is a great activity for spiritual self-care, which is all about finding a meaning for our lives, and developing a deeper connection with ourselves -it allows us to discover our true selves. There are many benefits to colouring, including:
Reduced anxiety and stress – colouring has the ability to relax the mind. It induces the same state as meditating by reducing restless thoughts.
Improved Sleep – replacing technology with colouring before bed helps relax your mind before sleep.
Improved Focus – colouring requires focus, but not enough to make you stressed. It allows you to push everything else aside and live in the moment, generating focus.

Meditation is a great self-care practice to become more stress-free and refocussed. There are many different types of meditation, a few we will cover in this workbook, however the effect will be slightly different depending on which exercise you choose. When meditating, the primary goal is to clear the mind and relax. Stress makes us anxious, intolerant and discouraged, which can have a negative impact on both our physical and mental health. Meditating helps rid us of these conditions by making our minds calmer and more focused. Based on one of the oldest religions practiced today, it urges you to purge your thoughts and focus only on the current. Instead of stressing about the past or future, we learn to feel at home in the present.
Contrary to popular belief, meditation is more than not doing anything. Meditation is to focus on one simple point and quiet your mind, eventually reaching a higher level of deep peace and inner calm. Our thoughts help decide our attitudes and how we feel. They can both encourage hopefulness, and discourage it. Because of this, we must be careful which direction we take our thoughts and feelings, so they don’t create negativity. Meditation helps us guide our thoughts into a positive direction, and gain control over our busy minds. Below are three beginner techniques to get you started! For beneficial results, practice one or all activities daily. I would also like to inform you that I am qualified to instruct meditation!

For this exercise, we will be using a candle flame. To begin, be seated on a chair or on the floor with your back straight. Write a few sentences about how you feel. Look at the burning candle in front of you. Direct all of your attention and fix your eyes onto the burning flame.

Feel that your breath is coming from the candle when you breathe in, and is going back to the candle when you breathe out. Only you and the candle flame exist, nothing else. Do not change the image of the candle, and do not think of anything else. If you lose concentration, start again from the beginning.

Do this for about 10-15 minutes. Once done, write down your thoughts once again. Is there a difference?

To begin, be seated in a chair or on the floor with your back straight. Write down your current thoughts. Concentrate on taking breaths and let go of any thoughts. Concentrate on a negative thought (nothing triggering) from the past that is unresolved. Let all of the feeling connected develop. Notice the emotional state you are in while you let them linger.

When they seem to be taking over, halt them. Especially in the middle of a thought. Consider of how you feel only. Don’t judge the feelings, just watch them go by.

Stay in the no thought mode for a few minutes. If your mind starts to wander, push it back to no thinking. Write down your thoughts once finished. Have they changed?

This is a quick one! To begin be seated on a chair or on the floor with your back straight. Write down your current thoughts. Concentrate on your breathing. Don’t change it, just pay attention to it.

Concentrate on your breaths going in and going out. Keep the concentration on your breath, and do this for about fifteen minutes.

Very gradually take your concentration of your breathing and come back to normal. Write down your current thoughts. Have they changed?

It’s the twenty first century, and let’s face it, everyone has a smart phone! But did you know that turning it off for at least 30 minutes a day can have a major positive impact on your mental health? Here is a few reasons why:
Sleeping: Turning your smart phone off before bed can actually help you sleep. Any form of stimuli right before bed can affect the way that you are sleeping through the night, and unplugging can relieve you of any temptation to connect before bed.
Reduced Stress: Turning off your smart phone can also reduce stress. This is because you don’t have to deal with a constant flow of information being sent to your device.
Staying focused: Stepping away from your smart phone and taking a small break from social media can help you stay focused on your goals. It helps focus your mind on the more important things, instead of thinking about people’s comments and who viewed your last Instagram story.
Reconnect: Taking a phone/social media break is the perfect time to reconnect with yourself and others.
Taking breaks from social media and smart phones can be one of the healthiest boundaries you set for yourself, and is an extremely beneficent form of self-care. You don’t have to disconnect for long, just thirty minutes a day has been proven helpful!

Puzzles are another great way to relieve stress and challenge the mind, which is an important part of psychological self-care. The way we think has a major influence on our psychological wellbeing. Psychological self-care is all about keeping control of our minds and challenging them! It helps us feel clear-headed and engage with professional challenges, which has a positive impact on both our professional and personal lives. A healthy and balanced psychological self-care routine is key to improved mood and anxiety.

Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers—and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress. There are many different forms of physical activity that can help reduce stress, some of my favourites include:

  • Walking – when I feel overwhelmed with stress, I often take a walk to the river or anywhere in nature to take my mind of things that are stressing me out. I try to avoid busy places (if I can) as this personally stresses me out even more. I try to stick to nature.
  • Running – I would be lying if I said I was a frequent runner, I am most definitely not! But, like walking, when I feel my stress starting to overwhelm me, I like to take a run or jog around the block.
  • Mountaineering – I think I have mentioned this on the blog before, but I am a qualified mountaineer. When I am up the mountain, any mountain, I feel a sense of relief. The climb alone makes me feel accomplished, and you definitely can’t beat a mountain view!
  • Swimming – ever since I was a child, I have loved swimming. It’s the only activity that relaxes me more than walking, and again is a great way to take my mind of stressful feelings.

Listening to music can have a tremendously relaxing effect on our minds and bodies. Musical preference varies widely between individuals, so only you can decide what you like and what is suitable for each mood. Personally, I prefer to listen to a song that relates to my current mood, as it allows me to think more clearly and better understand the emotion I am currently feeling. As I said, music is personal choice, but here is a list of songs I prefer to listen to when stressed (I know, some are a bit obvious).

Anyone who knows me personally would have often heard the words “I just need to listen to some John, and I’ll be fine”. For as long as I can remember I have been a fan of John Mellencamp, and the way he tells a story through his music. Pink Houses is one of my personal favourites, and seems to uplift my mood when feeling either stressed or over emotional. It’s not exactly a dancing tune, but definitely one to belt out.

Back in 2018 George Ezra released this absolute feel good tune. This classic ‘banger’ has the just the right melody to get your body moving. When feeling a loss of control or having a rather bad day, I listen to this song and go for a nice walk. It instantly puts me in a good mood, and before I know it I’m running home to be in the comfort of my private bedroom, dancing around without a care in the world.

Personally I have never been a big fan of the British Pop-star’s music, but there is something about this song that makes me feel motivated and ready to make a change in my life (even if only for the 3 minutes the song is on). It’s definitely one to belt out, and I find it’s the perfect song to listen to whilst angry or stressed.

This may come across as a bit of a cliche, but this is a perfect song to listen to whilst stressed. I love listening to songs that relate to my mood perfectly, and this is definitely a great song for that. Ironically, I feel stressed, listen to this song which is all about feeling the stress of adulthood, and it seems to work. I feel calmer, almost as if listening to this song for 3 minutes is a release of emotions.

And that’s it for this post!

You may have noticed that lately I have been including some digital freebies in my posts, mostly from my Etsy shop! In this post, I wanted to include some digital affirmations (you can print them out and place them in frames, that’s what I do). I have attached four affirmations, two colourful and two simple, so you have a few to choose from!

Thank you for taking the time to read this post, and I hope everyone is well!

-Amy

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