Stress. It’s something just about every human being deals with on a daily basis. It can be a gentle whisper or a screeching, piercing scream. Either way, it slows us down and makes us nervous and anxious. Ultimately, it can hold us back from what we desire or have worked hard for.
I am not a scientist who is up-to-date on the latest studies related to stress, but I know it from personal experience. I’ve felt it before, during, and after a performance. I suppressed it before difficult conversations with friends. I let it hang over me over a period of a day, weeks, or even months. I know stress.
What I have learned thus far is that stress will not ever go away as long as I am alive, as long as I live a life of integrity and honesty, as long as I have a desire to work hard, and as long as I am willing to grow and change. As such, the goal is not to try to get rid of stress altogether, but to to try to manage it better.
If I let my stress consume me, I’ll never get anything done. Fear will have taken the best of me. Well, I’m better than that, and I’ve figured out ways that help me relieve stress. Maybe some of these suggestions can help you.
Stress reliever #1: Cats (or kittens)
I am not a dog person, and so I cannot speak on their behalf. To a fault, I am a Cat lover. Cats and kittens are the ninja warriors against stress.
Please watch this video and see for yourself:
Yes, kittens!!!! Maybe you are super stressed. Find a friend who has kittens or visit your nearest animal shelter to volunteer. Being around affectionate, playful, or just plain fluffy creatures will brighten anyone’s day.In my life, I have a cat named Steinway. His existence is well-documented every Saturday, or “Caturday”, at my INSTAGRAM PAGE. He’s a pretty mellow cat and is very affectionate. Just petting my cat when he lies next to me in bed melts all my stress away.
Seriously, there is something incredibly soothing about the sound of a cat purring.
If cats aren’t your thing, consider getting a puppy or some other animal to regularly engage with. The laughter, joy, and comfort you will get will make it all worthwhile.
Stress Reliever #2: Focused Breathing
We breathe every moment of our lives. It is a bodily function that occurs regardless of how aware we are of it. I have found that taking two to three intentional, deep, and slow breathes during times of stress to be extremely helpful. Very quickly, it offers a calming effect over all of my senses.
I also just focus my mind on the breathing and nothing else. By clearing every thing out of your head and focusing on one thing, you create space in your mind for clarity. I find that it helps to do focused breathing in a calm and quiet space, but this is not always possible. Just remember that the more distractions and noise that surround you, the more intensely you need to focus on your breathing.
Stress Reliever #3: Playing an instrument
If I could give a new skill to every human being (and cat?) on Earth, it would be the ability to play a musical instrument. Playing the piano gives me so much joy and is also my personal favorite form of meditation. Melody, harmony, intonation, rhythm, syncopation, movement, musical style, emotion, and a purely visceral (and at times transformative) experience can all intertwine within a musical performance. The creation of sound mixed with passion and emotion is a recipe for a more self-aware and fluid way of life.
Stress Reliever #4: A slow and quiet walk
I have nothing against high-intensity exercise or anything that requires full bodily exertion. but in my experience, there’s something vital that you cannot get when your only goal is to push your physical limits or reach a goal. Those kinds of exercises are great for increasing energy levels, building muscle, and losing weight.
In terms of relieving stress, I favor a slow and quiet walk. Just get up from where you are and take a leisurely stroll for 10 or 15 minutes. Walk around a parking lot, down a street, or through a park. Wherever it is, make it an easy excursion. Don’t climb a bunch of steps and don’t walk too fast. The immediate benefit I get when I do this is more blood circulation throughout my body, as opposed to the tightening in one’s neck or back when stressed out. It is a relaxed way to release tension from your body, and it’s super easy. Just walk slowly. Go ahead.
My suggestions for stress relief lean more towards the easy side. Even with playing an instrument, just learn how to play “twinkle twinkle little star”, and you’ll feel a difference in your mood. The act of relieving stress should be completely easy and devoid of its own stress altogether. Try any, all, or just one of my suggestions. Maybe you can integrate them into your own daily life.
By the way, whatever you choose to keep your stress under control, make sure it won’t lead to any future regrets or unhealthy long-term habits. For example, some people prefer to eat food, drink alcohol, or smoke cigarettes to take that edge off. I have nothing against these options. Just know that they can present some pretty serious consequences over time such as addiction and obesity.