I know! Meditation is the secret sauce to take your wellness up to the status of the elite gurus. It’s the “be all, end all” for the health of your entire mind-body-spirit. It’s the absolute must-do that is the only path to beating the infamous health-buster called “stress.”
Don’t get me wrong; practising meditation is an excellent approach to optimizing your health and overall well-being. Meditation is great for relieving and dealing with stress, and all of the issues that come along with it. But it’s not the only way to get there.
The whole purpose of meditating is to calm the mind and emotions and relax our physical body too. And there is always more than one way to get there.
Let’s talk about some of the other things to try if meditation is not exactly your thing.
Spending some time every day writing out your thoughts can help to relieve stress. You can use journaling to list the things you’re grateful for, this is known as gratitude journaling. You can use it as a “brain dump” to get all of your thoughts and ideas out of your head to soothe your mind. There are so many different styles of journaling. I recommend using the book “Let It Out” to help you find the style of journaling that suits you best.
It’s one thing to read to learn something that you have to learn or to advance your knowledge. But it is pure pleasure to get caught up in the world of a story and just relax. As someone who is always seeking personal and professional growth, I fell into the trap that I should only read for productive purposes. Giving yourself permission to read for enjoyment, even if that means popular YA fiction or a re-read of Harry Potter (have you seen those illustrated versions?!), is a surefire way to tap into a joyous break for your mind.
Adult colouring books are all the rage! Not *that* kind of adult book, but colouring pages with lots of detail and tiny areas to colour in. Something that can take you hours. You can always opt for something simple, like kids colouring pages too. The idea is the same. Repeated movements and focusing on the art you’re creating can help to clear your mind.
When was the last time you were silly? As adults, the number one thing we forget to do is play. We’ve learned that there is no time for play or that is wasted time. But this side of our soul needs to be nurtured. Play card games or board games with friends and family. Run, jump, play fetch, or even frolic with your pet. Let small children in your family suck you into their imaginative world. Put on your favourite album and dance. Get goofy, laugh and be free.
Knitting or crocheting or cross stitching
Knitting, crocheting or other yarn activities are a great way to de-stress; this is a skill that comes in all levels from beginner to advanced. You can choose a quick little rectangular scarf to make or a detailed sweater. You can choose the pattern, size, and yarn. Once you get into the flow of these skills, they’re great to do when you’re feeling stressed. Not only can they relax your mind to focus on your work, but you can end up warming yourself or others with the products you create. My personal favourite is cross stitching because it requires little skill but satisfies a lot of time. These activities are also great distractors for late-night cravings!
Gently moving your body is another great way to de-stress. Activities that are slower and less intensive are ideal. Things like walking, yoga, stretching, or tai chi can all be great ways to relax your mind and improve your strength and balance at the same time. Find a YouTuber that you enjoy (I like Brett Larkin for when I actually do yoga) and binge on movement.
Sleep in or take a nap
A common cause of increased stress hormones is lack of sleep. Too little sleep and too much stress go hand-in-hand. Getting enough good quality sleep is important to help you break free from stress without having to meditate. I know how common it is to have sleep problems so this suggestion may be frustrating. I share this in case you feel as though taking a nap is not “enough” in terms of stress-busting tools when compared to meditation.
Maybe you love getting massages or mani/pedis? Maybe you love a long bath or lighting candles? Perhaps you can add your favourite relaxing music to the mix for a pampering evening? Spending some time to pamper yourself regularly is great for your mind, body, and spirit.
Spend time in nature
You don’t have to head away for vacation to relax in nature. While a calm beautiful beach or cabin in the woods may be amazing, you don’t have to go that far. Even spending time on the grass at your local park or playground, or walking on a wooded trail in your neighbourhood can do the trick. This is my absolute favourite way to de-stress.
Make time for people and pets you love
It’s so important to spend time with family, friends, and pets whom you love. New research is coming out about the health issues related to loneliness. Reach out and plan to hang out with your besties or even offer to take your neighbour’s dog for a walk in the park.
Stress reduction is the goal. How you do it, be it meditation or otherwise, is not that important. What’s important is that you stay open to trying all of the above suggestions and more until you find what works for you.
Even better, combine a few of these suggestions to get some seriously personalized stress management techniques like I did in the picture of this post. Nature + gentle movement + time with friends + playing = no stress!
Have other great ideas? Let me know what helps you de-stress in the comments below.
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