I live a stone’s throw from Boulder, Colorado. Not only is it one of the most physically fit cities in the nation, but it is also filled with crunchy, hippie types who love to meditate, chant, and bend their bodies into odd positions in all manner of yoga classes. I eat tofu, love to exercise, and believe in the importance of good stress management – but there is one thing I cannot stand – and that is yoga.
I just hate it. I hate the awkward positions. I hate the funky new age music. I hate the silence, and I really hate when that silence is interrupted by the gas that is inevitably passed by my neighbor. But the thing I hate the most is the guilt I feel that I am not a part of the club of yoga-goers who walk around with their lean, flexible bodies and stress-free, self-actualized minds.
Luckily for me (and maybe you too) there are lots of other ways to attain that same level of relaxation that do not involve becoming a human pretzel. Some might be obvious: walking, praying, journaling, meditating. But some of my favorite ways to relieve stress aren’t as common: reading, baking, watching mindless television, gardening, having coffee with a friend, looking at magazines.
When I talk to my clients about finding effective, do-able stress management activities that they can participate in on a regular (hopefully daily) basis, we try to think outside the yoga box. The only requirements are that they:
- Are easy and cheap. Massages are relaxing for everyone, but most of us cannot afford the time or money it would take to get one everyday. Good stress management activities should be close to home and preferably free or very low-cost.
- Are something you actually like. If you hate it, dread it, or feel embarrassed doing it – you won’t.
- Allow you to feel relaxed. This may sound like a no-brainer, but just because one activity makes me feel relaxed, that doesn’t mean it will do the same thing for you. Monitor your stress level before, during, and after the activity and it should become clear whether it is effective.
- Help you forget your worries – or at least put them in perspective. I love reading because I can’t think of anything else while I do it. It gives my brain a break – that’s what a good stress management activity will do.
Whatever you choose, please be sure to find some way to help manage stress in a healthy way. Excessive and prolonged periods of stress can lead to physical ailments as well as mental health problems like depression and chronic anxiety.
Photo by: Localfitness.com.au