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Whether your boss is demanding more from you, or you’re unable to pay all your bills on time, life is full of stressors. April is Stress Awareness Month, and experts and everyday people who have dealt with unavoidable stress in life have ideas for the top 10 unique ways to relieve stress.
1) “Staring at a photograph of nature: sunset, stream, sky. Nature is a natural stress reliever, and a photo will do in a pinch,” said Janet Pfeiffer, the president and CEO of Pfeiffer Power Seminars, LLC, and a motivational speaker and author of “The Secret Side of Anger,” in an email.
2) “Staring at fish in a fish bowl or tank. The poetic movement is very soothing,” Pfeiffer said.
3) “Putting things into perspective. Much of our stress comes from worrying about those things we have no control over (which is pretty much everything). I ask myself, ‘Will this issue even matter in 10 years?’ If the answer is no, I don't worry about it,” Pfeiffer said.
4) “Unplug for a few hours or a few days. Leave the computer off, only answer calls/texts from people you really want to talk to. Journal longhand, make scrap book pages or greeting cards or some other activity where you cut with real scissors, paste with real glue. Let yourself breathe and think and function uninterrupted by the constant bells and whistles of our high tech society,” said SM Johnson, a behavioral health technician at Essentia Health, and an author of adult fiction, in an email.
5) “Write a short (or long) story in which you (or a character you create) do something you'd wish you could do - ride in a hot air balloon, be a hero, run a marathon, get revenge, visit Paris. Use all five senses as much as possible and when you get on a roll, just let the story flow without worrying about plot or spelling or grammar. Don't even worry if it's good. Just get your imagination going,” Johnson said.
6) “Rent the movies that you loved as a teenager or young adult and spend an afternoon reminiscing,” Johnson said.
7) “Pick one small area of your home that could use some organization - junk drawer, a closet, mud room, the left half of the living room, the medicine cabinet, your make-up stash, the refrigerator, the pantry. Put on your favorite music. Throw away everything that's outdated or hasn't been used in six months to a year, and organize the rest. The key is to pick a small enough area that you can manage to complete the organization in an hour, or at most two. If you have items to donate, make time to drop those items off to a charity ASAP - the same day, if possible. Getting control over one small area of your life can be amazingly therapeutic,” Johnson said.
8) “Retrain the brain with positive affirmations and daily reminders. The more positive self-talk we have, the happier we are. We can make our positive self talk into a belief and habit. Each day say positives that work on your negatives. Example: I’m feeling sad and unsuccessful because I have been unemployed for over six months. Each morning when you wake up tell yourself how smart and successful you are. For added support say it in the morning and night. After a few weeks of saying this, it will become a habit and a belief,” said Diane Lang, a therapist, adjunct professor and author who is trained in positive psychology, in an email.
9) Christy Shatlock, Florida-based nutritionist at Cederquist Medical Wellness Center and BistroMD, said in an email that some foods can help relieve stress, such as sweet potatoes, almonds, walnuts and pistachios, dried apricots, spinach and avocados.
10) Dr. Cynthia Ackrill, a consultant, coach and speaker, has a three-step strategy for relieving stress. “I think there are three parts to stress management- reducing the load, reframing perspectives, and building resilience. I work with clients on understanding that much of stress management is energy balancing - balancing how much energy you spend versus how it is renewed. So many stress management techniques sound good but they are not addressing the imbalance so they become just one more thing to do and fail. I have people identify what really feeds their energy and put more of that in life.”