If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time (or if you’ve read my previous post about my experience in therapy), you’ll know that I experience anxiety when dealing with romantic partners or when I’m in a romantic relationship.
Even when everything is going well and I know that I don’t have anything to worry about, I can often feel a sense of dread. That sense of dread can sometimes lead to spiraling and rumination that keeps me up at night. But, I have many tools at my disposal that help me cope when I’m feeling stressed out or anxious.
To round out Mental Health Awareness Month, I thought I would leave you with a more lighthearted post that talks about some of my favorite activities that help me to relieve stress and anxiety. Everyone is different in what they like and what they find fun but I hope that this gives you a few ideas to try out 🙂
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Stress And Anxiety Relieving Activities
I’ve been journaling periodically since I was in middle school. Most of my journaling back then had to do with the boys that I liked or my daily life. Now most of the time when I journaling, I do it with intention and specific prompts. Recently, I bought a Wreck This Journal and it’s been a fun way to expand on my journaling. It is interesting prompts like “Press leaves and other found things” and “Pick up this journal without using your hands”.
Reading is one of my favorite things to do, but unfortunately, I don’t have enough time to read for fun as much as I would like to. For me, reading can be a way to gain knowledge, learn life lessons, and escape into a different reality. My favorite genres are historical fiction, fantasy, and science-fiction. If you have any recommendations, especially in these genres, I’d love to hear them.
I think YouTube is an absolute treasure trove of content. I didn’t start watching YouTube until about 2016. Before that, I mostly used it to look up songs or music videos. I can’t really remember what made me really start getting into it, but now that I have, I watch it more than I do regular television or Netflix. I love that there’s always something or someone new to discover as well as the relatability of the content creators. Some of my favorite channels include New Rockstars, Deligracy, EmmyMadeinJapan, and TheTimTracker.
I cook my own meals about 3 to 4 times a week, usually in big batches so I have left overs for the next few days. Cooking relieves anxiety for me because it allows me to get out of my head, experiment with new things (I looooveee trying out new spices), and have something that I can showcase at the end. I started cooking or helping to cook with my parents when I was very young, so I love sending pictures to them of the food that I’ve cooked.
I’ll admit that I’m not the best at meditation. It’s super hard for me to get my thoughts to quiet down, but meditation can be super helpful. The first time I tried meditation, I was in graduate school and writing a paper about mindfulness and procrastination, with the goal of evaluating myself on how being more mindful affected my feelings around procrastination. Needless to say, I’m still a chronic procrastinator but I do find meditation to be useful, you just need to find what works for you. What works best for me is to usually light a candle and focus on it, while letting my thoughts fall where they may.
Stress And Anxiety Relieving Products
Dry brushes/dry brushing is a technique that allows for skin exfoliation and massage. I started dry brushing about a month ago because I decided that I wanted to do something about what I affectionately call my “alligator skin” on my legs. My skin tends to be pretty oily but my legs are an entirely different story. So, I thought dry brushing could help. What I didn’t realize was how soothing I would find it. This is the exact set that I ordered and I’m super happy with it.
Monq Aromatherapy Diffusors
Monq Aromatherapy Diffusors are portable essential oil diffusers. To use them, you inhale through your mouth and exhale through your nose, giving you the same benefits as using room diffusor. I’ve been using Monq for my anxiety for a little over a year now. I tend to use them before I go to bed or throughout the day when I’m feeling stressed. I love the aromatherapy aspect, but I think it also helps because it gives me something to focus on. My favorite blends are Sleepy (chamomile, kava, lavender), Zen (frankincense, sweet orange, ylang-ylang), and Vibrant (ginger, lemon, and spearmint). If you’d like to try it, you can use this link and get 10% off!
I have chronic low back pain that affects me daily both physically and mentally (especially if something happens to where I need to change my routine). Having a massager has been a lifesaver. I even bought one for my mom for Christmas because she has a very labor intensive job and she uses it every day. I also use my massager almost every day and it also helps me save money by not going to a massage therapist every week.
Stuffed animals are one of my favorite things in the entire world. I generally receive 2-3 stuffed animals a year as presents for various holidays from my parents or friends. I’ve had hundreds of stuffed animals over the years and periodically donate them. But, I always keep the ones that have a special meaning to me. My favorite stuffed animal is named Brendan and he’s a snow leopard that I made at Build-A-Bear. I made him with my dad on my 16th birthday. Of all my stuffed animals, he is the one that I could never part with. It is incredibly comforting to have not only something that you made but something that has a lot of meaning with you.
MyIntent Project Bracelet or Necklace
MyIntent Project is a “Catalyst for meaningful conversations and positive action”. With a MyIntent Project Bracelet or necklace (they also have anklets and keychains), you choose a word or phrase that resonates with you. I bought my first MyIntent bracelet when I was going through a break-up and my phrase (really an affirmation) was “Let Love In”.
You’re supposed to wear it until it falls off, which mine did earlier this year. The significance of it is that when it falls off, you’ve reached your goal when it comes to that word or phrase. Since then I’ve bought another bracelet that has the same phrase and a necklace that says “Be Adventurous”. This product helps me with my anxiety because it gives me something to look at and focus on.
So those are 10 fun stress and anxiety-relieving activities that help me cope with the thoughts that sometimes zoom around my head. Did you have a favorite activity or is there anything else that helps you reduce your stress or anxiety? I’d love to know!
Briana Hollis is a licensed social worker and self-care coach. She earned her Master of Science in Social Administration from Case Western Reserve University in 2014 and her Master of Education from Tiffin University in 2019. She has spent the last 5 years working in crisis intervention. Her passion for serving others is the heart of this site. She started Learning To Be Free to assist others in bringing freedom to their lives.
Briana is also the author of The Self-Care Journal for Young Adults.