Don’t Stress Out About Meditating? Here are 9 Other Ways to Break Free From Stress
I know, I know. Meditation is the secret sauce to take your wellness up to the status of the elite gurus. It’s the “be all, end all” for the health of your entire mind-body-spirit. It’s the absolute must-do that is the only path to beating the infamous health-buster called “stress.” At least that’s what all my Facebook sponsored ads tell me.
The trouble is – I hate meditation.
Don't get me wrong; practicing meditation is an excellent approach and it can surely amp up your health and well-being. Meditation is great for relieving and dealing with stress, and all of the issues that come along with it… if you don’t have kids, or a career, or the need to eat or bathe. JK…. But seriously. Who’s got time for it? And honestly this “stress reliever” stresses me the F out. This is probably a self-fulfilling prophesy, but that is another conversation for another day with my therapist.
The whole purpose of meditating is to calm the mind and emotions and relax our physical body too. The thing is, meditation is not the only way to get there.
Let’s talk about some of the other things to try if meditation is not exactly your thing. I’m giving you permission to let go of this idea that your life needs to be filled with these perfect moments of Zen and instead to look inwards to what feels calming and empowering to YOU! Not guru Chandra on your FB feed.
Spending some time every day writing out your thoughts can help to relieve stress. There are lots of ways you can use journaling to relieve stress but my favorite is to “brain dump” my thoughts down and identify one thought that isn’t serving me. I write out how that thought causes me to feel and look at replacing that thought with a new one that serves me better. The key is it still needs to be a thought that you could believe – just a better choice.
It’s one thing to read to learn something that you have to learn, or to advance your knowledge. And, you can also read for pure pleasure. To get caught up in a story and just relax. I am deep into the thrilling saga of Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers. No spoilers, people!
Adult colouring books are all the rage! Not *that* kind of adult (but I mean, whatever floats your boat), but colouring pages with lots of detail and tiny areas to colour in. Something that can take you hours. You can always opt for something simple, like kids colouring pages too. The idea is the same. Repeated movements and focusing on the art you’re creating can help to clear your mind.
KNITTING OR CROCHETING (OR OTHER CRAFTS)
Knitting, crocheting or other yarn activities are a great way to de-stress; this is a skill that comes in all levels from beginner to advanced. You can choose a quick little rectangular scarf to make, or a detailed sweater, or a festive holiday dickey. You can choose the pattern, size, and yarn. Once you get into the flow of these skills, they're great to do when you're feeling stressed. Not only can they relax your mind to focus on your work, but you can end up warming yourself or others with the products you create.
Gently moving your body is another great way to de-stress. Activities that are slower and less intensive are ideal. Things like walking, yoga, stretching, or tai chi can all be great ways to relax your mind and improve your strength and balance at the same time. I can’t tell you how much I LOVED prenatal yoga when I was pregnant… like to the point that I often wonder if it would be weird if I signed up for prenatal yoga even though my baby is 3 years old.
SLEEP IN OR TAKE A NAP
A common cause of increased stress hormones is lack of sleep. Too little sleep and too much stress go hand-in-hand. So, getting enough good quality sleep is important to help you break free from stress without having to meditate.
Maybe you love getting massages or mani/pedi's? Maybe you love a long bath or lighting candles? Perhaps you can add your favourite relaxing music to the mix for a pampering evening? Spending some time to pamper yourself regularly is great for your mind, body, and spirit. Treat yo’self!
SPEND TIME IN NATURE
You don’t have to head away for vacation to relax in nature. While a calm beautiful beach or cabin in the woods may be amazing, you don’t have to go that far. Even spending time on the grass at your local park or playground, or walking on a wooded trail in your neighbourhood can do the trick.
MAKE TIME FOR PEOPLE AND PETS YOU LOVE
It's so important to spend time with family, friends, and pets that you love. New research is coming out about the health issues related to loneliness. Reach out and plan to hang out with your besties, or even offer to take your neighbour's dog for a walk in the park (hint hint – if any of my neighbours are reading this – my dog is waiting for you).
Stress reduction is the goal. How you do it, be it meditation or otherwise, is not that important. What’s important is that you find what works for you.
Try journaling, reading, colouring, knitting/crocheting, gentle exercise, sleep, pampering yourself, spending time in nature, and making time for people and pets you love.
Have other great ideas? I would love to hear what helps you de-stress! Email me your faves at firstname.lastname@example.org
CALMING ESSENTIAL OIL BREATH
Instructions to inhale directly
Add up to 6 drops of undiluted essential oil to a handkerchief/tissue and inhale occasionally. Use up to 3 times per day.
Instruction for steam inhalation
Add 3 - 12 drops of undiluted essential oil to a bowl of steaming water. Inhale slowly and deeply for 5 - 10 minutes. Use up to 3 times per day.
List of Calming Essential Oils
Lavender isn't the only calming essential oil. You can also use angelica, balsam, benzoin, bitter orange, cedarwood, celery, chamomile, cornmint, cumin, curry, frankincense, grapefruit, jasmine, juniper, labdanum, laurel, lemongrass, marjoram, nutmeg, palmarosa, parsley, patchouli, peppermint, rose, rosewood, sage, sandalwood, scotch pine, spearmint, star anise, sweet basil, sweet orange, thyme, or ylang ylang. (to name a few).
Stay away from synthetic or low quality oils. I like using Sage, Eden, or Young Living Oils. Don’t have a go to for your essential oil needs? Shop here.