Monday, October 14, 2013

Get Rid of that Stress

Today was a tough day. Terry found out he'll be leaving for work again, for a month this time, and I immediately felt a wave of anxiety wash over me. I know I'll be okay; I've been alone for weeks at a time before and I'll have the cat to keep me company.

But it's never easy to be apart from the person you love, especially for an extended period of time. And when Terry goes to the East Coast, the time difference makes it tough to communicate. He works long hours, and we can usually only talk for half an hour each night before he needs to get some rest.

Anticipating his departure and thinking of the fact that he'll be all alone out there (with the exception of his coworkers, of course, and thankfully they're pretty awesome) made me particularly anxious today. So finally, around 5:30, Terry and I headed out for a little cardio.

We ran for two minutes, walked for one minute, for a total of 30 minutes. It was perfect. I felt myself relax almost immediately in the fresh air as I got my legs moving and got my heart rate going in a positive way. It wasn't an especially difficult workout--we didn't even complete three miles--but I needed it. And of course, it didn't cure me completely. Even as I write this post I'm still feeling bummed that Terry will be leaving. But I also know I have tools and methods at my disposal for tackling whatever stress comes our way in the next few months.

Exercise is my favorite stress reliever. On the worst days, a quick bout of exercise works wonders on my mood and general outlook, and I know the physical benefits even go beyond that. Exercising during the day helps me sleep better at night, which in turn starts the next day on a less stressful note.

But I like having multiple options for relieving stress and mellowing out when life gets a little rough, and I've found a few that work (some better than others, some more long-term than others):

  • Cleaning house. I don't know why, but there's something therapeutic about tidying up, vacuuming, washing dishes, wiping counters. I guess when I can restore order to one area of my life, I feel a little relieved. I'm not the only one, though; friends have told me that cleaning makes them feel more relaxed, too. And is there anything better than coming home to a clean house?
  • Deep breathing. It's a classic technique, but it works. A few deep breaths help me calm down if I'm in the middle of a really rough day. But this one only lasts a little while; some days I find myself taking breathing breaks every five minutes, and I know it's time to try something else.
  • Writing. Obviously, writing is an outlet for me, and sometimes writing helps me vent, get my thoughts straight, or just take a time out. Usually as I write I discover that the problems I thought were so overwhelming are actually minor and manageable. 
  • Cutting back on caffeine. If I notice a few days in a row are a little more stressful than usual, I skip the morning tea. I've already got enough adrenaline from whatever is going on in my life, and I don't need the extra pick-me-up anyway. It also helps me stay calm in the mornings.
  • Talk it out. What's better than chatting with a friend, family member, or spouse about whatever is going on? Usually chatting with Terry or friends or family ends in a good laugh and feeling like I got a big hug. 
  • Ice cream. If all else fails, ice cream is the answer.
Stress and anxiety have been issues in my life for as long as I can remember, but I like to think I'm getting better about finding healthy ways to manage and reduce my stress. And that's what today was all about; here's hoping the rest of the week will be even better.

What's your favorite healthy stress reliever? 


  1. Vodka and soda water with a lime twist. Vodka's fermented potato juice- a vegetable!