Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ten Cheap Ways to Relax When You Have Too Many To Dos on Your List

By Pat Stoltey (originally published on April 19, 2011 -- but during the holidays, we can use all the de-stressing tips we can get)

1. Stand up. Take four boxing jabs that do not connect with a living creature or anything hard enough to hurt your hand. Sit down. Repeat ten times.

2. Spend exactly one hour on a priority project, then pat yourself on the back for making outstanding progress. Go to the kitchen and get a cup of coffee or a glass of ice water (or whatever), and stand at the window for five minutes to watch the weather. Repeat as needed. You never know what the weather might do if you aren't paying attention.

3. Spend thirty minutes to an hour doing a chore that will raise your heart rate. I took my box cutter to the garage and spent an hour cutting cardboard for the recycle bin. It's harder than you think, but I feel good (and I didn't cut myself, either).

4. Stand with your back against a wall. Make sure your heels, butt, and shoulders touch the wall. Suck in your gut and try to press the small of your back to the wall. If you can actually do this, don't tell me because it will make me feel like a wuss. Hold. Relax. Drop your head to stretch your neck and touch the back of your head to the wall. Hold. Relax. Repeat the lower back and neck stretch five times. Roll your shoulders.

5. Get up very early. Brew a pot of Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer herbal tea. Drink it iced or hot. While you drink the tea, sit quietly in a chair and think. Relax your shoulders. Close your eyes. Don't drop the tea in your lap. When you finish the tea (not the whole pot, silly), check the sunrise. Admire it. Take a picture.

6. Examine your To Do List and pick something you don't really have to do. If your personal life and your career will not suffer, cross the item off the list. There. Doesn't that feel better? For best results, do it again.

7. Take a ten minute music break. Put your favorite CD in your boom box. Sit still and listen or sing along. Get up and dance if you want to. A little Friends in Low Places will lift your spirits. Oh, what the heck, make it a thirty minute or more music break and play the whole CD.

8. Yell. Okay, first wait until everyone is out of the house. Then holler as loud as you can. I personally don't care what you say when you yell, but if your neighbors can hear you, you might want to yell song lyrics or something similar that won't offend or alarm. You only need to do this for a minute.

9. Buy a small drum and learn the basic hand positions and rhythms (or not...it works even if you have no idea what you're doing). Take occasional five minute drumming breaks. It feels great. If you're sticking to a strict budget, buy a kid's tambourine. Or use a waste can turned upside down. Be creative. The point is, pound on something and feel the beat (but don't hurt yourself).

10. Stop working. Think. Why are you so stressed? Can't say no to new projects? Your husband is practicing Morse code right across the hall? You left your holiday baking until the last minute and your company arrives tomorrow? Whatever the reason, own it. You got yourself into this mess, you need to work your way out of it. Now go to the bakery and buy goodies. When you get home, pull the plug on hubby's noisy hobby. Take a deep breath. Then another deep breath. Doesn't that feel good?


Jan Morrison said...

This is just what the mind-doctor ordered. I am going to tack this to my wall toute suite.

Cindy Keen Reynders said...

Nice, Pat! I love it.

Anonymous said...

This is perfect. I love how active most of your suggestions are. I've been having a hard time waking up early and claiming my "me" time lately, but I think it might be time to reset the alarm and give it another try. Now that the kids are home, it's especially important for me to take a minute of quiet before I add my own shouts to the general clamor filling the house.
And music breaks (with dancing) are ALWAYS good - gets the heart rate up and gives you the mental break you need to keep going!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Hi Jan -- I guess the secret is to keep moving...although I did a lot of that while I was getting my house in order and now my back has twinges...

Thanks, Cindy.

You're welcome, thinkbannedthoughts (I love that name) -- Music breaks definitely help my mood.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's why I go to the gym a couple times a week! Helps me de-stress.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Alex -- Getting back to the gym is exactly what I need to do, but it probably won't happen until my company leaves on the 27th.

Susan S said...

Awesome advice, Pat. I'm going to sub coffee for the tea, but other than that...these are ALL on my list!

Jemi Fraser said...

Great advice! My favourite way to destress is to listen to music or watch a favourite movie/show :)

Okie said...

that's a great list. love it. :)

Wicked Stepmother said...

I laughed out loud reading these...and it helped...laughing always does! I look forward to this list being reposted again next April so I don't have to search for it! :) Happy New Year!