For our self-regulation course at the MEHRIT centre we were recently challenged to create a top ten list of our favourite no-cost stress reducers. Here's my list. Please share your list on Twitter and tag me @lisacran. Thanks!
Exercise – whether it’s going for a run or doing some heavy work in the yard (two days ago I tore out the flagstone path) I find that physical work gives me a much needed break from the mental stress of studying, reading and writing
Eating healthy – my husband travels frequently for work and is usually gone for two weeks at a time. I’m not always motivated to make healthy meals for just me but after a few days of poor meals I feel lethargic. Eating healthy is an easy way to reduce biological stressors for me. And if I am hungry I am very cranky and miserable so eating healthy will reduce stressors for people who have to deal with me.
Fresh air – getting outside, breathing the fresh air, and focusing on slowing down my breathing. When I was working at the board office, a group of us in the program department decided we would take a 15 minute walking break each morning and afternoon. It didn’t always happen, but usually someone would do a quick walk around the office around 10 and 2 asking who was going for a walk. Otherwise it was easy to spend the whole day in your office!
Listening to the waves – we recently moved to our ‘retirement home’ on Lake Erie. Opening the door and listening to the waves helps me to relax
Birds – usually watching the birds at the birdfeeder, especially the little hummingbirds, is quite destressing but right now the blue jay is screaming for breakfast
Campfires – there’s a firepit at our new home. Sitting outside in the evening, listening to the water and watching the fire is free destressor. No checking emails, reading articles at the campfire.
Drink more water - At work, I used to keep a refillable water bottle on my desk and drink two bottles of water each day. When I retired, I got out of that habit and found I was often dehydrated.
Be social - Our new home is on a private, unpaved road and many of the homes here are summer homes/cottages so it would be easy to isolate yourself out here. I make an effort to visit with the neighbours beside me each day and I’m looking into signing up for a book club at the local library. Otherwise, with John travelling for work, I can see how it might get very lonely out here in the winter.
Prioritize and focus – this is hard for me. If I’m working on my doctorate then I feel like I’m not spending enough time on the house and my family and this course. If I’m spending lots of time with my family then I feel like I’m falling behind with my coursework. It’s an ongoing battle to remind myself to focus on what I’m doing instead of being distracted thinking about other things I could/should be doing.
Self-talk – I use self-talk to encourage myself to focus, and to remind myself to use the other strategies listed here.