It’s holiday time again!
“The most wonderful stre-essfull time of the year…”
While there is so much that is great and magical about the holiday season, it can also be the super-stressful. There are a lot of powerful stress-relieving methods one can use like taking a yoga class, gardening, therapy sessions, etc. But I want to make mention of some of my favorite quick de-stressors that only take a few minutes and can be done easily just about anywhere.
I call this my Stress Buster Tool Box. Each one of these tools can help just a little bit and are so quick and easy. Use several of these tools together throughout the day, and you can make a significant difference in your stress level.
- Write it down! This is one of the simplest, yet most powerful tools for coping with stress and anxiety. When I find myself stressing or obsessing about something (as a perfectionist, this happens a lot during my day…) I pull out a little index card and write it down.
- Don’t forget to fill propane tank for BBQ
- Worried that our teen stays up too late, won’t develop a good work ethic and won’t succeed in life
- Dog needs food
- Losing friends over political differences
Of course, this list helps me remember little things I need to get done, but the real power in this exercise is this: it removes the big issues from my “inner conversation” and brings them into reality. When an issue is allowed to “stew” inside your head, it tends to spiral out of control, growing bigger and bigger on its own. Pretty soon, the “our teen stays up too late” becomes “she won’t be able to get a job and will be on welfare the rest of her life”. The mind just starts thinking of the worst-case scenario! There is something about writing it down (or saying it out loud to a friend or just to yourself) that helps bring things back to reality. I find that halfway through writing down these thoughts, I often chuckle and say to myself, “how many times did I stay up late as a teen? Of course she’ll find a career that makes her happy”….
- Practice Gratitude. This is simple and SOOO easy to do. There is something very powerful about focusing on what you are thankful for. And the real power is in the PRACTICING of it. Do it daily. It could literally take you 10 seconds each morning while you are waiting for the shower to heat up. I bet after just a few days, you would find yourself purposely spending more time in gratitude as you realize how nice it makes you feel.
- Having trouble falling asleep? If stress is keeping you awake at night, use this simple trick that helps me often. Don’t let your mind wander in worry about taxes and viruses and car payments. Instead, focus on a simple pleasant task that you would really like to complete. This could be about a hobby, travel, or anything that makes you smile. Maybe a project like building a treehouse. For me, I like to build and race model sailboats. I will think of a particular part of my boat that needs fixing or upgrading. Then I will try to think of every little detail, and how the parts might fit together, and what color I might paint it. I just go into as much detail as I can. This lets my tired brain turn off all those other “worry switches”, and with just a few “happy switches” turned on, I will soon drift to sleep. Sometimes I’ll think through a menu for a party. This is different than meditation, it’s almost the opposite. We’re not “opening the mind” and thinking about flowers blowing in the wind…. I actually try to “close” the mind from anything not related to my chosen subject, and I use as much brain power as I can in visualizing fixing my boat so that I stop thinking about my taxes.
- Take a Walk. Just a brief walk in the morning can give you a little bit of stress-relieving exercise, and a nice few minutes to let your mind relax. You could do your gratitude practice or your “say it out loud” tools from above. I will walk with my wife most mornings, and we will both share what’s worrying us and what we’re grateful for.
- Take it easy with alcohol and pharmaceuticals: Millions of Americans will self-medicate with booze and pills to help them feel better in times of stress. While it may feel effective in the very-short term, it is not the healthiest choice in the long run. This is where I suggest CBD as a much safer, yet potent, alternative. Many people find that a few daily doses of CDB can make a big difference in their anxiety and stress. Since there are no serious side effects to worry about, I think CBD is a much better choice than the bottle!
- Give a compliment as the first part of every interaction. Could be at the coffee shop, “Good morning, I like your shirt… And I’d love a double-espresso”. Could be at home, “Good morning sweetie, I love how you organized your bedroom”. You take it to the next level and give compliments to people that will never hear them, “Hi driver of the red truck, that was a really gutsy move back at the freeway onramp”.