Practicing meditation is an excellent approach to optimizing your health and overall well-being, and it seems to be all the rage. 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, this is called a worry journal. You can use “ever since” journaling to describe your life after you reach your goals.
It’s one thing to read to learn something that you have to learn, or to advance your knowledge. And, you can also read for pure pleasure. To get caught up in a story and just relax is a wonderful gift to your mind and body.
Adult colouring books are all the rage! 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.
- Knitting, crocheting and wood working (or other crafts)
Using your hands for a craft is a great way to de-stress; a skill that comes in all levels from beginner to advanced. 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 sharing your skill with others around what you create.
- Gentle exercise
Gently moving your body is another great way to de-stress. Activities that are slower and less intensive are ideal. Things like gentle stretching can be great ways to relax your mind and improve your strength and balance at the same time.
- Quality sleep 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. So, getting enough good quality sleep (8 hours is the sweet spot) is important to help you break free from stress.
Maybe you love getting massages? Maybe you love a long Epsom salt lavender bath or lighting toxin free candles? Perhaps you can add your favorite relaxing music to the mix for a pampering evening? Spending some time for regular self-care 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 neighborhood can do the trick. There are deep benefits to being in nature.
- Make time for people and pets you love
It’s so important to spend time with family, friends, and pets whom you love (hello oxytocin!). New research is coming out about the health issues related to loneliness. Reach out and plan to spend time with your close friends, or even offer to take your neighbor’s dog for a walk in the park.
- Deep breathing
There are many types of breathing, but the quickest and easiest one I like to teach my clients is this is quite simple: breathe in through the nose, hold, breathe in through the nose again, slowly and fully exhale through the mouth. You will reset your stress response, and clear your mind for more focused thoughts.
Stress reduction is the goal. How you do it, is not that important. What’s important is that you find what works for you.
Try journaling, reading, gentle exercise, sleep, self-care, active restoration, spending time in nature, and making time for people and pets you love.
Have other great ideas? Let me know what helps you de-stress in the comments below.
Recipe (calming): Lavender Essential Oil
Instructions to inhale directly
Add up to 6 drops of undiluted essential oil to a handkerchief/tissue and inhale occasionally. Use up to 3 times per day.
Instruction for steam inhalation
Add 3 – 12 drops of undiluted essential oil to a bowl of steaming water. Inhale slowly and deeply for 5 – 10 minutes. Use up to 3 times per day.
Tip: Lavender isn’t the only calming essential oil. You can also use angelica, balsam, benzoin, bitter orange, cedarwood, celery, chamomile, cornmint, cumin, curry, frankincense, grapefruit, jasmine, juniper, labdanum, laurel, lemongrass, marjoram, nutmeg, palmarosa, parsley, patchouli, peppermint, rose, rosewood, sage, sandalwood, scotch pine, spearmint, star anise, sweet basil, sweet orange, thyme, or ylang ylang.