Interrupt the patterns of stress, and invoke your innate capacity to rise above it all, and transform it all. These readily available stress relief solutions are prompts for your creative side, and pathways to feeling better fast.
“Nobody’s going to do your life for you. You have to do it yourself, whether you’re rich or poor, out of money or raking it in, the beneficiary of ridiculous fortune or terrible injustice. And you have to do it no matter what is true. No matter what is hard. No matter what unjust, sad, sucky things have befallen you. Self-pity is a dead-end road. You make the choice to drive down it. It’s up to you to decide to stay parked there or turn around and drive out.” – Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things
When it comes to stress, or really anything in life, assigning blame to other people and events outside yourself will never bring you into the state of being you’re striving to attain. You’re the one who must refocus on the aspects of life you’re trying to amplify; in the long run, nobody else can do it for you.
What you choose to magnify around you is an extension of what you’ve prioritized inside you.
Stress affects people in different ways; our triggers, breaking point, and how the stress manifests will all vary person to person. The question remains: When the stress shows up outside, how can we show up on the inside?
For me, stress relief is an evolving door. A certain approach may work for me better today than it did yesterday, depending on the situation and my own level of awareness, so I’m constantly playing with new pathways to peace.
I’ve written about natural ways to relieve stress before, and how eating certain foods or practicing certain breathing exercises can help, but this list is different because it focuses on new, creative solutions I haven’t mentioned before.
Some of these stress relief techniques may seem a bit alien to you, or sound silly even, but in my experience they’re practical methods for calming down. I hope you enjoy experimenting with one of them the next time you need a little on-call assistance.
10 Creative Stress Relief Solutions Worth Trying
Thank a higher plan for taking care of the things you can’t let go.
I created a “Universe Box” a few months ago, and I’m loving it for one reason: It gives me a sense of being supported when I really need some outside assistance. If I’m resisting something, procrastinating, or worrying about things I can’t control, I write a thank-you note to the Universe for taking on my problem and transforming it for me.
Smell some crayons.
Studies suggest aromatherapy can be a helpful way to relieve stress; certain aromas (like lavender) are consistently shown to reduce stress. Here’s a creative twist, though: open a box of crayons, and out comes the scent of your childhood.
Apparently, a small study from Yale University shows the scent of Crayola crayons to be one of the top 20 most recognizable scents to adults, and it has been shown to reduce blood pressure by 10% (though I couldn’t find that study; if you do, please let me know).
Visualize a peaceful place in your mind and go there.
Guided visualization can help reduce stress and ease anxiety. When I feel super stressed out, I have a place I can always retreat to if I close my eyes:
There’s a waterfall pouring down into a serene, natural swimming pool with a little island in the middle of it. If I climb the cliff and reach the top of the waterfall, there’s a meadow with an endless number of wildflowers. If I walk through the field, the ocean comes into view.
I’ve gotten more and more specific with how my “sacred place” looks, sounds, smells, and feels, and it truly helps.
Get creative when you close your eyes, and create the place you want to see.
Think about laughing.
You may know that laughter can reduce the physical effects of stress. Here’s the really interesting thing: just thinking about laughing helps. I haven’t found any research on this (yet), but it works in my own personal experience.
Thinking about someone’s contagious laugh, or back to a time when I found humor in a situation, helps me transcend the low energy I feel now; I feel lighter and I might even smile (or laugh) thinking about the memory.
Laugh at the crazy thoughts.
Here’s another way laughter acts as a form of stress relief: I actually laugh at the insane thoughts I think. Those thoughts might be any variation of these: “I’m so stupid,” “I’m not good enough to do this,” “I’m not attractive,” “What I want is impossible,” “Everything works for them and nothing works for me,” etc.
Laughing at the ego’s tiny, mad ideas lightens my mood in an instant, and lifts my perspective so I can see past the insane comments that are self-defeating and usually totally inaccurate.
Look at your thoughts, on paper.
It doesn’t matter if you’re “good” at writing–you can reap its meditative and reflective benefits. When you extract the worries, doubts, and fears from your head and put them on a piece of paper, it puts you in a more objective position; you’re looking from the outside in. Writing things down can be healing, and eye-opening, in this way.
Can you write down one sentence–one word, even–that describes what you’re feeling? Get it out. Release it.
Watch the fish swim.
Watching fish is extremely beneficial to your mental and physical well-being. I don’t have pet fish, but I do have tiny pet shrimp (my EcoSphere Closed Aquatic Ecosystem was a cool birthday gift), and I love taking breaks to see what they’re up to (which usually isn’t too much).
Give your senses a break from the stressful stimulus, and look into the world of simplicity.
Listen to understand, not to reply.
I’m not necessarily referring to listening to other people (though this certainly can diffuse a stressful interaction). I mean this in a more expansive way: Listen to life. Try asking life itself these questions, aloud or silently:
“What are you trying to tell me right now? What am I being shown? What is here that I might need to see in order to move past my blocks, once and for all? What might this be directing me to? How is this happening for me, not just to me?”
Here’s the important followup: Do not answer your own questions. Ask them only, and then go about your business and stay open to the answers that come. They will come–maybe not in a time frame that suits your ego, but at the right time.
Take a shower in low lighting.
Some days call for a long shower with less visual stimulation. I sometimes play a guided meditation or relaxing music while I’m taking a shower in low lighting. It offers a break from the brute force of the world outside my windows. Being in this “destimulating” experience interrupts the stressful patterns of the day; it’s a restful pause.
Ask, “How may I be of service?”
Wayne Dyer used to say that the ego’s mantra is “What’s in it for me?” and the mantra of the higher self is “How may I be of service?”
When we start to ask the question, “How may I be of service?” we begin the process of answering that question through our energy, words, and actions. We become a light to others, and ourselves, when we invoke the nature of the highest self.
When it comes to stress, research shows the incredible buffering effects of relationships. Close connections reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol and trigger the flow of feel-good neurotransmitters (chiefly oxytocin) in the brain. Touch literally makes us feel better, and so does giving.
It seems that supporting others is one of the best forms of stress relief. If you want to live a longer, healthier, and more fulfilling life, get generous.
To quote the multi-talented Rabindranath Tagore: “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”
By the way, this video about lobsters shares a fantastic way to look at stressful situations (it’s under 2 minutes and worth the watch).
Please share your thoughts, positive practices that encourage stress relief, helpful things you’ve learned from stress, and any inspiring experiences with me in the comments.
Share this post with someone who might appreciate, and try, one of these stress relief solutions.
Replenish your spirit, and serve from the overflow.