Unusual Stress Relievers (Part 2 of 3)

This is part 2 of a 3-part series on unusual stress relievers.

In part 1, we looked at what exactly stress is, the long-term repercussions and some of the best ways to deal with stress when you're on the go. The list included: celery, acute cold exposure, fractals and prosocial behaviour. If you haven't read part 1 yet, you can read it here.

In today's post, we look at how you can manage stress after a scenario has already occurred. If you've had a hectic work day or just returned from the worst school reunion, then you can try the following:

Colouring book
Adult colouring books allow you to focus your mind on the task at hand, crowding out the space for negative stressful thoughts. Colouring is a restful activity and can transport you back to your childhood, when you had less stresses. Of course, if the drawings you’re colouring in are fractal, like this colouring book, then even better!

Flower arranging

This was the impetus for me to write this piece. Japanese flower arranging, or Ikebana, is a way that a family friend winds down after a big day at work. Studies back this up, showing that spending time with beautiful flowers and the act of arranging reduces stressful feelings.

Bath

Sitting in warm sudsy water is pleasant, partially to do with the warm water calming our system (like with the warm hands tip above). Interestingly, though, body position also plays a role; our horizontal condition is thought to mimic our time in the womb. The isolated nature of a bath can also be a reprieve from all the stressful triggers in our daily lives. But be warned, baths have been linked with UTIs. So if you’re a sufferer, choose another item on this list. 

 Baths. Great for stress relief. Bad for UTIs.

Baths. Great for stress relief. Bad for UTIs.

Journal

Like meditation or mindfulness, journaling encourages awareness of our thinking processes so we can better disrupt negative thought patterns that lead to stress.

Some studies have found that personal expressive writing is most effective when done for at least fifteen minutes.

The term ‘diary’ feels gendered but journal has a nice neutrality, meaning both men and women are often happy to take up this form of personal writing.

If you’d like some guidance with how you journal, you can follow these simple prompts in your own minimalist Northbook journal, this classic ruled journal or get this journal with simple prompts on every page. Though not strictly for stress, I’ve heard lots of positive feedback about this Resilience Project Journal.

Go for a walk

Walking briskly doesn’t just cause an endorphin release, triggering positive feelings and reducing your perception of pain. Studies have shown that the effects are longer-lasting. If you exercise regularly, you are better able to cope with stress. If you are walking in green spaces, you are even better positioned to minimise your stress.

And if you are walking with a friend or a pet, your cortisol levels are likely to further decrease. So for best results, walk your dog in a park.

Soothing music

Music has been shown to lower an individual’s heart rate and change their breathing. In this study, subjects each chose a classical piece that they found resonated with them Eg. Opus 30 and their responses were monitored – “the average ratings for emotional intensity and pleasantness were, respectively, 7.4 out of 10 and 4.4 out of 5.0”.

Music’s anxiolytic power is further supported in this larger study.  In this randomised controlled trial they found that playing music in a waiting room prior to surgery significantly lessened stress.

Choose some calming music that you enjoy and let the stress melt away.  

Candles

You can read my in-depth post about what makes candles so effective here. In summary, scented candles can cause a release of dopamine and serotonin and promote feelings of calmness.

 Far left: Burnt fig and cassis, my current fave

Far left: Burnt fig and cassis, my current fave

Consume omega-3 fatty acid
Eat your way to a stress-free you. Sorta. This Black Dog Institute fact sheet outlines the way Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to mood improvement. You can get omega-3 fatty acids in seafood, like salmon, through supplements and in enriched foods (check the packaging) like eggs, margarine and bread. Less effective sources include flaxseed, canola, soybean oils, hemp and walnut oils. This is a mega easy salmon recipe if you want to bake some at home. It’s also nice with lime and coriander.

Vapor disks

Vapor disks, also known as shower soothers, go on the bottom of your shower. When the water hits, calming clouds (effervescent vapors) are produced, which you then breathe in to relieve your stress (or cold). You can bake and freeze your own here or buy this Eucalyptus and Peppermint Shower Tablet, this Shower Steamer set or this Good Common Sense Shower Tablet that I just ordered.

Do you use any of these tips currently?

Whenever life feels a little hectic, I up my omega-3. I love going for walks and I love baths (but I HATE getting out of them). I’m also super into candles as you probably already know. 

Tell me what you do to deal with stress or what idea on the list you’re going to try!