Feeling Fried? Find Ways to Relieve Stress

Janet Grant

Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

Each of us is wired differently, but one aspect we all have in common: Certain activities relieve stress. When life overflows with tension, we need to make a conscious decision to partake in stress-relief. But often, instead of pursuing some action that will minimize the affects of stress, we become so bound up in the situation, that we stop doing what helps us.

For me, the list of stress-buster activities is pretty short.

  • Exercise.

My dog, an Australian Shepherd, lives for stimulation. Give him a job, or he’ll find his own work–usually gnawing on a baseboard, tearing up a rug, or de-stuffing a toy. Given his disposition, I’m pretty much required to walk him. Oh, the miles we’ve covered together. Being out in nature gives me time to take a deep breath, pause from concentrating on whatever is producing stress for me, and a chance to take pleasure in the change of seasons and small things like spotting a heron fishing in a lake.

  • Reading.

Studies show that individuals relax 10 to 15 minutes after starting to read a book, magazine article, or the newspaper. As a matter of fact, the relaxing effect kicks in sooner with reading than in with almost any other activity. I read in bed because it causes my mind to shift from the day’s events to the book’s events. And then I slip much more readily into sleep.

  • Laughing.

Laughter often is the best medicine. First, it helps us to realize that humor can be found in almost any situation. Second, it makes us stop frowning! Funny how something so small can reset our mental and emotional barometers.

  • Water.

I find water inherently relaxing. Apparently I’m not alone in this. Just thinking about a water fountain’s tinkle causes most of us feel more tranquil. When I slip into a swimming pool, stress slips away. Same goes for the toasty water of a bathtub–enhanced by the relaxing aroma of lavender bath salts.

I’m feeling relaxed just writing about relaxation!

What relaxes you? Have you been availing yourself of what you know relieves your stress?

Feeling stressed? Here are some common stress relievers. Click to tweet.

The writing profession is stressful. Ponder what relaxes you. Click to tweet.

26 Responses

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  1. Those are some excellent methodologies, Janet. Thanks for sharing them.
    * I find that I don’t often feel stressed, and that’s always puzzled me…especially now, as I’ve gone through what was the most singularly physically awful week of my life. Pain you can’t get used to, and can’t escape…it should be a major stressor, but it’s not. I can attribute the lack of stress to one thing – connexion to the transcendent.
    * I don’t mean prayer, or specific Scripture meditation, though I know that many people find their refuge in these. For me it’s more of a centering on the entire life of Christ, what He taught as a whole, and more importantly, who He was and IS.
    * Life as a Christian has to be focused outward, both in setting a personal example of faith, and in encouraging others, and especially in helping them toward the Light. When one buys into these (and it helps me that my ambitions and temporal hopes are being burned away), there’s little room left for stress.
    * They say that faith displaces fear; I don’t find this to be the case, as I’m plenty scared of the pain tomorrow may bring. What actioned faith DOES do is displace navel-gazing. When I’m trying to find ways to be a support to others, I find that there’s little room left for my problems, and what’s more, my personal issues become a kind of grist for a finely-grinding mill that I can use in this ministry. I’m hurting and I’m frightened, yes, but the effort I make in trying to transcend the fell effects of these twin demons becomes the steps onto which I can guide others’ feet.
    * In the end, stress dissipates in the harshly purifying light of duty. As Al Sever wrote, in his stunning memoir “Xin Loi, Viet Nam”, describing the revelation he gained from a near-death experience:
    “There had been no rights while living, only obligations and responsibilities.”

    • Andrew, I’ve never heard that – that faith displaces fear. John tells us that “perfect love casts out fear,” but the faith thing intrigues me. Now that I think about it, this might be a reference to what Jesus told Jairus when he learned that his daughter had died. Jesus responded to him saying, “Do not be afraid. Only believe.” So, in that case, faith and fear are put together. Cool thought, brother! Let me chew on that one awhile.

  2. Amen to your list, Janet.
    * Sometimes a good cry is better than a good laugh–a book or movie that brings me to tears is good for my soul.
    * And my journal . . . for me, things look less scary scrawled on a page than flitting about in my head.

  3. Janet, stress. I seem to have a lot of stress right now. Just life things and figuring out how to balance the things that need doing and the things I want to accomplish.
    *One thing that relaxes me is to get out and take a walk with my camera. I love finding beauty in my environment and photographing it. There’s something about breathing in fresh air and seeing God’s beauty that is stress-busting for me.
    *And, talking through things with a friend can be stress-relieiving as well.

    • Janet Grant says:

      Jeane, and being outdoors also exposes us to the sun’s light (even on a cloudy) day, and that is beneficial in many ways. I read an article over the weekend that being outdoors helps the melatonin in our bodies to know when it’s time to be awake and when it’s time to slip into sleep.

  4. I love your list. Laughter, sharing struggles with another, and laughing more … these help to keep me going. I love walking around our property, taking pictures, talking and laughing with my girls, soaking in a hot bath … And well, my calendar says it’s the first day of spring … I’ll play the glad game with that … “it helps sometimes when things aren’t going so well.” 🙂

  5. I’ve been reading as well, Janet, that reading reduces stress. Just another reason I need to fit more of it into my day, right?

    • Janet Grant says:

      And, if you’re torn between reading and some other activity, it gives you an excuse to let reading win.

      • Jason Sautel says:

        It took me years to understand why my stressors seemed to be different than the majority of people I know. I never fit into the normal spectrum and what would normally stress people out is second nature for me, but normal situations rapidly wear me out and cause stress. When I was going through the medical process of becoming an Oakland Fireman, it was brought to my attention by one of the Dr’s that I had something called asperges syndrome. Come to find out, it actually helped me get the job because it is a personality trait that supposedly fits well with this line of work. Anyways, when I feel the stress of this fallen world along with those in it beating me down, I head up to the Eastern Sierras, scamper up one of the “fourteeners” (14,000ft+ peaks) and get into God’s word. As for the day to day stress of being a daddy, husband, person, I just head upstairs to my “mancave” and pray for a bit. The greatest stress releiver for me is an 1890’s Victorian in West Oakland fully involved in fire that is getting ready to run the block and being the first fire engine on scene, haha!

      • Ahh, Jason, I have a grandson with Asperger’s Syndrome, and I can totally see how it fits with your work and also why things stress you/him out that seem inconsequential to me.

  6. Stressed? Pfffft. Neh-verrrr.
    Let’s see…our daughter is getting married in May in a courthouse wedding, thus all the traditions I thought would happen, won’t happen. The one that breaks my heart is my husband walking our only daughter down the aisle. I’m fine with just about everything else, but wow, that one weighs rather heavy on my heart.
    One son is moving, one is planning a trekking expedition to South America. Which is cool and great, but he’s got a horrid beard and hasn’t cut his hair in 10 months. Yes, he looks like a hippy. I will make him put a Canadian flag on his backpack. Baby son, who’s almost 6 feet tall, is hoping to get his first job this summer, volunteering at camp.
    But, thank heavens for knowing Jesus. Otherwise, I’d actually try and solve all this worry by myself. Not to say I don’t, but His love is a banner over it all.
    So, what to do?
    I do have stress relievers-walking, seeing friends, etc, but something new has come our way. We’re the caretakers of a 1931 Buick Straight 8 sedan, and have decided to join the provincial antique car club!
    John went to their monthly meeting yesterday and discovered that we have the only 31 Buick in the province. He said it was a blast, and yes, he was one of the youngest there. A mere boy, at 55.
    I LOVE antique cars, and now this will be something he and I can do together. All our other hobbies and interests are somewhat solitary, but I’m excited about us being the team with the ’31 Straight 8. We’ll get to travel all over with the car, and be in car shows.
    Never in my life did I think I’d be in a car show!
    I feel like a kid in a candy store!

    • Janet Grant says:

      Jennifer, it seems being part of the antique car club has all sorts of benefits, including making new friends. And any time we do something new, that’s stimulating and helps us to forget our everyday woes.

  7. Carol Ashby says:

    Several things de-stress me. The quickest is playing the piano. Even more so when I’m playing hymns or praise songs and singing along. Another is watching the birds and yard turtles at the pond in the back yard. Probably many people relax with music or animal watching.
    *I do have an odd de-stressor. I have several ancient history courses (mostly Rome because of the period of my novels) from The Great Courses. Each lecture is 30 min. I love to watch one of those while I clean up the kitchen and wash the dishes. Handwashing dishes is relaxing, anyway, and adding something interesting to think about while I do it is even better. I’ve wanted to learn New Testament Greek for years, but I never found (made?) the time. I now have the course DVDs and plan to mix those in with the history ones.

    • Janet Grant says:

      Carol, I wish I knew how to play the piano. As long as one didn’t strive for perfection, I think that would be a great way to focus your thoughts on the beauty of music and God.
      I used to be a birder, but that’s fallen by the wayside. Your comment makes me wonder if I should reinsert that into my life…

      • Carol Ashby says:

        But true musicians always strive for perfection, and the closer we get to it in the performance, the higher our spirits soar.

      • Janet, I taught myself to play the recorder–it is cheaper and more portable than a piano (Hubby gave me a lovely wooden one for my birthday–it has a great back-to-nature feel). And any old hymnbook is my sheet music. “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” is the perfect antidote to stress.

      • Janet, I laughed when I read your response. I, too, would love to be able to play the piano. I took three semesters of piano in college and cannot play a thing! I have come to understand that I cannot have my left hand doing something different than the right. They can mirror one another, but cannot be doing distinct things. Poor Dr. Service gave me Cs in my piano classes when I deserved Fs. I rationalized it by saying, “But you try SO hard!”

  8. Sue Harrison says:

    Water! What a great idea and totally new to me. I’m under a great deal of stress due to verbal abuse by an elderly relative. I’m his primary caregiver and have no options to escape except through reading and exercise, which are sometimes also impossible. I can surely take a few seconds for a glass of water!! Thank you, Janet.

  9. I have discovered that I am at my best when I’m doing something creative. My latest creative endeavor is calligraphy. I have incorporated it into my quiet time, but I also use it to wind down at the end of the day.

    I also enjoy finding new things to make with essential oils–room spray, perfume… (My family refers to this as mixing potions–“Jeanette is mixing her potions again.”) Fragrance does wonderful things for my mood, and I love giving these things as gifts! Once, after a difficult appointment, I went home and tried making body butter. The sense of accomplishment made me feel so much better.

    Walks work too, and I love to ready, but there is just something about getting my hands busy that makes me happy.

  10. Peggy Booher says:

    I feel more relaxed just reading your list, Janet!
    *Walking outside is a great stress-reliever for me, either in the back yard or on a nearby trail, though the trail is better because I can go farther. It seems as though I can feel the tension going out of me as I walk. I am more open to receiving from the Lord in the outdoors. I know when I haven’t been outside enough–things get on my nerves quicker.
    *Reading, writing in a journal, looking at pictures, feeding/watching the birds, coloring (simple pictures, not the detailed adult books), going outside to take pictures, reading favorite blogs, listening to instrumental music, calling a friend, and adding inspirational quotes and articles to my “Favorites” notebook (a simple spiral notebook) are other ways I have to relax.
    *Unfortunately, as you mentioned, sometimes I get so bound up in a problem, I don’t take time to do at least one of these activities. Then the ensuing anxiety, etc. makes me realize that it’s imperative for me to let the problem go and pick up one of these activities.
    *This year I committed myself to walking more and being more sensitive to times when I need to let stress go. I know I’ll be better off for it.

  11. Looking at the scenery while walking my dog, reading a good book, laughing, inventing a new recipe. Janet, I’m with you on most of those.

  12. So many wonderful suggestions above … but the one I cannot employ is reading. I simply cannot read when I am stressed or agitated. What I find most helpful is coloring. I know that’s so odd, but I do find that coloring in a children’s coloring book relaxes me. The other is to lay on my back on the floor, between the stereo speakers, listening to good music e.g. Mannheim Steamroller, or something from Windhim Hill.

    • Peggy Booher says:

      Damon,
      I’m with you in coloring in a children’s coloring book or an adult one that is simple, not detailed as so many of the adult coloring books are. I also enjoy listening to Mannheim Steamroller and similar CDs.

      • Oh Peggy, we are kindred spirits – I can just tell!! 😉

        Yes, the super detailed books don’t work for me. I need the simple ones of fire-trucks and beach balls – taxi-cabs and farm animals.

        Have you had the privilege of seeing Mannheim Steamroller live? If not, and you get the chance, put that on your bucket list!! It is the memory of a lifetime. I saw them in Kansas City on their Fresh Aire VI tour, and again in Tacoma, WA for a Christmas concert. Wow … just wow …