Happy Sunday! I hope you all had a great weekend with your family. This weeks's blog topic is Destress: What's One Thing You Do to Keep Or Re-establish Equanimity When Life Is Too Much?
This is a timely post going into the new year, but I couldn't narrow it down to one thing. My go-to stress reliever since my kids were small has been a steaming hot bath. Most of the time, I just needed to de-frag and be ALONE, and we all know how hard that is with little ones. Twenty years ago, I had three, sometimes four, kiddos vying for my attention. Hot baths with the door locked saved me many times and still does, maybe because it became such a routine part of my life. Nowadays, I add some Epsom salts to my water and light a candle, and that winds me down like nothing else.
But! I have other stress relievers too. Sometimes a hot bath just isn't enough. When I need to reset my mind and return to that comfortable place I call stasis, I know that I need to either reconnect with nature or declutter/organize my house--or both. I live five minutes from every store you could imagine, and a few hundred thousand other people as well, so getting out in nature usually means I have to make a short drive. But I know when it's needed, and let me tell you, I find a trail, a stream, a park, or I go to our little spot of land on the top of a small mountain here in Tennessee and enjoy the fresh air and that lovely view.
Other times, I need to re-organize my home. Chaos in the home = chaos in me. It took me a long time to realize this, but once I did, and once I addressed it (which was hard with kids), man was it life changing. The act of cleaning/de-cluttering/organizing is a way that I re-set back to stasis.
Other things I do? Exercise, walk, do a little yoga, or meditate. I recently bought the Asana Rebel app, and I'm enjoying integrating a short yoga practice into my morning routine. I also listen to music for stress relief, and of course, I read. Reading can be harder though, because concentration is a necessity, whereas listening to music requires nothing but plugging in. Music stops negative thinking for me and redirects my brain into creative mode. I get a lot of writing inspiration from music, so it's a cure-all if I need to stop thinking about whatever is stressing me, and I usually get my mind back on writing in the process.
Another big tip for stress relief is something I try to do to maintain equanimity, and that's hydration, electrolytes, and rest. I've read a few studies on the topic of stress and hydration/electrolyte imbalance, but my science degree days are long past. I can, however, vouch for the fact that I just feel better when I'm properly hydrated, drinking electrolytes, and getting proper rest. Good hydration alleviated the constant headaches I used to have along with the accompanying brain fog which created more stress because I couldn't focus.
Electrolytes, for me, are needed because I try to eat anti-inflammatory foods as much as possible, but that means a lot of water loss. I have to stay hydrated and keep the electrolytes going, or I feel awful. And rest? It's critical. I used to struggle to sleep past 4:30am, so 5-6 hours a night was my norm. It wasn't enough. When I'm hydrated and exercising, even if only a 20-minute walk once a day, I rest better, and then I feel much more on top of things the following day. Our brains need hydration and good sleep as much as the rest of our body, so if you feel off-kilter, maybe take a day to get some fluids and just sleep.
The important thing is to know what works for you and then to implement those activities when needed, whether it's an emergency stress reliever or a daily activity that helps keeps stress at bay. I'm all about being preventative versus reactive, but it's important to understand what tactics keep you in stasis and what tactics bring you back to stasis once balance has been compromised.
I hope you have your own list of stress relievers, and if not, I hope this one gives you some ideas. Stress sucks, and it can quickly siphon the enjoyment from our lives. Here's hoping that you have the tools to fight the battle, and that you win.