I know a number of people going through stressful situations right now, and I also have some stress. It’s important to take a little self-care to reduce stress and its effects.
Below is a list of 10 ways to reduce stress and lift a low mood. Most of them involve distracting yourself from the cause of stress. When you have some problems and issues, you may have to schedule some time to think out creative solutions. Often though, our thoughts on our problems are not constructive and are just worries. Learn to recognize when your thoughts are constructive or worries. Worry is not helpful, and often we worry over things over which we have no control.
You may or may not be a person of faith, but it is very stress relieving to turn over situations you can’t control to Someone who can.
Exercise is healthy both mentally and physically. Exercise releases feel-good chemicals like endorphins, serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Runners sometimes talk about a “runners’ high.” I like dance exercise which has a number of benefits. It is good exercise for your brain, since it involves learning choreography. Some studies seem to show it can help prevent Alzheimer’s. There may be social benefits if you go to a class, which may also help your mood. If you dance or do other exercise to music, you will also be ticking off two items on this list at once.
3. Do something creative.
Doing creative things is a fun outlet for self-expression and emotion and helps to relax you. Both visual art and writing can have therapeutic benefits. Both visual art and writing have been scientifically proven to help people with trauma and negative emotions. You could sketch, scrapbook, journal, do creative writing or participate in any number of artistic hobbies. You could even combine writing and visual art in an art journal. Adult coloring books have been trendy for a while, and some doctors are recommending them to their patients for their therapeutic benefits. Even if you don’t feel you’re Michelangelo, you can play with colors and enjoy an adult coloring book.
4. Read a good book.
Reading for fun in a quiet atmosphere is also relaxing and an escape from stress. The same may not apply to reading a computer manual or a textbook. When a friend read my novel, Action Men with Silly Putty, he wrote to me saying, “I laughed so hard that I may not have depression or anxiety anymore.” It was nice to hear, and I considered it quite a compliment. If you’re in a low mood, be selective with your reading. This may not be the time to break out Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, (as much as I like that book, play and movie.)
5. Listen to music.
Music can also play a part in emotional well-being. Speaking from experience, I believe the right music can aid sleep and be therapeutic for migraine pain relief. As with books, be selective with your listening. I remember reading how some teenagers committed suicide after listening to songs that seemed to encourage it. Some people are also very sensitive to songs in a minor key that have a sad sound. Listen to songs that are uplifting or encourage a cheerful or peaceful mood.
6. Talk to someone.
Sometimes, it just helps to talk to someone about your troubles. If you have such a someone in your life, you have found a treasure. Some may try to help you solve your troubles. Others may just listen and sympathize. It may just be helpful to know you have an ally who understands your feelings.
7. Make an effort to think on positive things.
Yes, looking at cute animals like the ones above is good for your health. Cuddling one, if you have a pet at home, is even better. It isn’t just cute animals that put positive thoughts in your brain. Sometimes, when I am stressed, I look at my Pinterest collections of inspirational quotes, uplifting Scripture verses and photography of nature scenes, flowers and animals. It’s good to remind yourself of hope and beauty in the world.
8. Read up on uplifting news and acts of philanthropy.
Headline news is full of tragedy, crime and controversy, but there are other stories. Focusing on negativity in the world can be depressing. As a reporter, I was often informed of churches and other organizations and their philanthropic efforts. They help the hungry, the homeless, orphans, abused children and animals and victims of natural disasters. They advocate for and raise funds for disease research. For every issue you can imagine, there are people helping to make things better. It’s better to focus on this aspect of things.
9. Watch and/or listen to comedy.
Laughter isn’t just frivolous. It’s actually good for you. Laughter relieves your stress response, soothes tension, improves your immune system, relieves pain and improves your mood. Watch or listen to some comedy in your down time to help relieve some tension. Sirius radio has a comedy station or two that you can listen to during your commute.
10. Do something kind for someone else.
Doing a kind act for someone else can feel very satisfying. It helps to get your mind off of yourself and your own difficulties. Going through some difficulty can also encourage your sympathetic feelings for someone else also going through a hard time. You can tick two items off this list by creating a handmade card of encouragement for someone you know.