Friday, September 16, 2011

Create Something with Your Hands, and other Tips for Reducing Stress

This has been a busy and stressful week.  I've felt like I'm getting sick for the past few days, have worked long days and late nights, haven't seen my daughter much at all, and still, yes, still, have boxes left to unpack from when we moved in.  When laundry piles up, and dishes go unwashed, and I have tight deadlines seems like my best attempts to be the gladdest thing, and look at the glass as half full, and appreciate what I have--just don't cut it.

So, what do I do on weeks like this?

Here are the five things I've noticed myself doing to reduce my stress level (and I think they're pretty consistently things that I turn to when I need a happiness boost, as well.):

1.   I create something with my hands.  - I love to create things. I love crafts.  I like to build things out of whatever I can find.  I like to hang pictures on a wall or paint a shelf or wrap a present well.  This week, on one of my busiest days, when I felt like I was furthest away from "living my priorities," Flanna and I went outside for a few minutes, took a piece of bamboo that had fallen during a storm, and created a teepee.  Nothing fancy.  Just bamboo and some string.  But using a saw and some ribbon to turn one long piece of bamboo into something new and fun for Flannery was really rewarding and quite a mood lifter.

2.  I listen to music I love. - Not new music, but music I've heard over and over for many years.  For me, there is great comfort in knowing every word and note to a song, and listening to it on repeat, even!

3.  I clear a surface. - Just cleaning off one table, or one shelf, or one area in my living rom can really help me feel calmer and less anxious.  I'm messy by nature, so it seems counterintuitive that clearing a surface could bring me such peace, but somehow, it does.

4.  I eat chocolate.  - Dark chocolate is best.   And not too much.  Just one or two bites will do.  Any more than that, actually, and it cancels out the mood boost, for me.  Overindulging just makes me feel yucky about myself, so I really do stick to a tiny bit.  (I'm a moderator, so that works for me.  But if you're an "abstainer," this one may not work for you, I think.)

5. I read a book to my daughter. -  Some of the best times I've ever had as a mom have been sharing books with my daughter and niece.  Tonight, I read "Amelia Bedelia goes Camping," with them, and I have to say, it was probably the best part of my day.  Super fun and super silly.  Plus, such wonderful figurative language and vocabulary!

And now the crazy busy week is over, and I get to spend some quality time with my daughter and niece,  and I finally have a bit of time to attempt some more unpacking and organizing at home, and maybe even to clear another surface!  So things are getting better all the time.

What do you do when you're overly stressed, to help reduce your anxiety level?

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