When we slow down and really pay attention to what triggers our stress, we get a better idea of how to handle stress reaction. Healthy ways to unwind help you confront your emotions without giving in to them. You’ll need a safe environment to name the emotions, process objectively, and come out the other side with resilience.
Avoid coping mechanisms that are harmful :
Stress Eating – 1.) Denies your true emotions : ie. you are not hungry; you crave love / satisfaction. 2.) The over-full feeling leaves you worse than when you started. 3.) It causes weight-gain that causes guilt that causes more stress.
Computer Games – Escape from reality allows you to deny your emotions, even to the extreme of denying that the stressor exists at all. Time passes without healing, wounds deepen.
Video, Film, Television – Another escape from reality into the imaginary world of someone else’s stress. This is dangerous because we are easily fooled to believe that we can copy coping mechanisms seen on screen and expecting them to work like hollywood magic.
Alcohol – Drowning your worries not only suppresses your true emotions and avoids confronting the stressor, but causes damage to your brain at a time when you need it to process and heal.
Mindfully Choose Your Music – The Carpenters will leave you in a deeper depression than when you began. If you are usually a heavy metal fan you might want to give it a rest when you’re feeling stressed. Be pro-active, don’t let your music choose your mood for you. Personally, I like Christmas music. If you don’t like any soothing melodies then choose silence.
Avoid caffeine and other stimulants.
Choose healthy stress busters that suite you best :
Exercise – Personal training may lend itself better to introspective thinking while competitive sport can sometimes mask anger.
Nap – Don’t underestimate sleep as a way to get a more objective perspective.
Memorize Promises of God – Encouraging Bible verses fortify the soul from the inside out.
Call a Friend – Sometimes you just need to pick up the phone and let the other person rattle away endlessly about their life and the personal connection in itself can be a great pick-me-up. Sometimes you need to take your jumbled up emotions and organise them in a way that makes sense to someone else. When you explain why you got angry, you will learn something about yourself.
Garden – Think about gardening in a symbolic way. Care for the plants as you care for your soul. Imagine pulling your negative thoughts out like weeds.
Journal – Write a little bit each day without editing, do not censor your emotions. Share how you felt about the issue in the past, how you feel today, and also what you wish to do or say about the issue in the future.
Positive Reflection – “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:4-9
Build a Jigsaw Puzzle
Volunteer – By giving of ourselves to help someone who’s needs are greater than our own we see our problems in perspective and feel that life is more meaningful. “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4
Socialize – Make appointments with friends, family and people who are good for you. Get moving.
Pet Benefits – Daily rituals include walking your dog, ping-pong with your cat, cuddle, stroke, talk, enjoy each other’s company. If you don’t have a pet, borrow one ; visit the dog walking park, cat sit for a friend or take a side job dog walking for the neighbors.
Meditation – Read the Psalms.
Laughter – “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22
Cook – Choose a recipe, and enjoy savoring every moment of the preparation, cooking, and eating. Invite friends over to share your masterpiece.
Album – Assemble a photo album.
Stroll – Take time out to smell the roses. Stroll mindfully paying attention to your environment and your reactions.
Pop Bubble Wrap
Seek Silence – Turn off the phone, TV, computer. Soak in the silence. Calm your spirit, focus your mind on the calm.
Art Therapy – Knit, Crochet, Cross-Stitch, Paint, Photograph, Craft, Scrapbook.
Skip Stones – Each rock can represent a feeling. Imagine casting away the feelings that disturb you.
Collage – Take several magazines, cut out images that are soothing and uplifting. Paste together a collage as a constant reminder of positive thinking.
Spa Therapy – Visit the steam room, sauna, jacuzzi, or have a manicure.
Observe – Find a healthy role model and shadow them. Ask how they unwind, take notes, observe their body language. Practice role-playing you responding like they would.
Bucket List – What do I really want from my life? Write a list of meaningful things you would like to accomplish, perhaps things you would like remembered about you after you’re gone.
Live in the Moment – Play I Spy with all of your senses, every event and emotion. Identify them, and evaluate them as appropriate or not.
Let Go – Reprogram your responses to stressors. Be calm, visualize your worst-case-scenario, imagine yourself reacting well. Rather than replaying past failures, it would be more productive to role play future events and envision yourself reacting calmly and successfully.
Acceptance – Admit you feel bad and allow yourself to live with that emotion for a few moments. Why is it bad to feel that emotion? What are you running from?
The Art of Reframing – Write down any negative words that you use to describe the situation. (failure, stupid, worst ever, and so forth) Choose new words. For example, change “failure” to “stumble” ; “impossible” to “challenge” ; “never” to “someday.”