A gathering of ideas to create calm and release stress

Everyone has ways to relieve stress and let go of all anxieties, even if it only lasts a short time. Right now, we are all worried – about this global pandemic, our family members and our friends, our students and our jobs, the economy, the never-ending social distancing.  Like a good book, we look forward to reading a satisfying ending. The hard thing right now is not knowing when we will return to some state of normal. Many times, we play the “What if….?” game, and that only serves to elevate our stress level.

Here are some of the things I do or might try to lower my blood pressure and calm my heart. I decided to brainstorm a simple list in my writer’s notebook and share it with you:

  1. Read a good book!  Right now I’m reading American Dirt and The Glass Hotel (fiction) and Sapiens, The Library Book, and The Body Keeps the Score (nonfiction). I recommend Where the Crawdads Sing and Just Mercy  if you have not read these SAPIENS by Yuval Noah Hararitwo books (Loved them!).
  2. Light candles when you are having dinner or perhaps when you are taking a bath.
  3. Bring freshly-cut flowers into the house from your gardens if possible. I am waiting for my huge lilac bush to burst into bloom. I will share some cuttings with my neighbor Kate (who I miss seeing!).
  4. Reach out through social networks. This Friday my friend Nancy arranged a Zoom meeting with all our Eta sisters (Alpha Delta Kappa) since we will miss our state convention at the Penn Stater end April (canceled) and our last meeting/cookout in May.  Thank you, Nancy!
  5. Use your phone and call friends or send an email. What about snail mail? When was the last time you sat down and wrote someone a letter?  We just sent a bunch of birthday cards with notes inside to my brother-in-law for an April birthday we cannot celebrate together.
  6. Be present. When you take a walk, think about the sunshine on your face or the light breeze that whispers spring to you. Observe the blossoms, the colors, the sounds.
  7. Meditate – It is not something I do, but I am going to try it. A friend suggested to sit in a chair with both feet touching the floor, closing my eyes, and breathing in and out slowly while reciting a mantra internally. I think my mantra may be, “Today is an extraordinary gift, and I am going to enjoy it.”  Maybe a little wordy, but I can always revise later.
  8. Laugh more!  My husband says I am too serious. He tries to make jokes, and I am learning to appreciate them. We all need our sense of humor right now!
  9. Exercise.  I am walking the stairs more than usual and we’re starting to take more dog walks. I just started doing my exercises for tendonitis. I learned them at physical therapy about three years ago. They make me feel like I am improving strength and balance.
  10. Write, write, write!  I am doing several kinds of writing these days. I write with my co-author Brenda Krupp three times a week from nine to noon. That really anchors me. Another writing team collaborates each Sunday. I try to write in my writer’s notebook each day. Do you have your own blog?  Maybe now is a good time to start one.
  11. Take out albums and look at old and new photographs. Look through computer files. Take your camera along with you on walks. Photograph your pet(s). Share your pictures on facebook or twitter.
  12. Do some creative cooking.  I am not great in the kitchen but I made chili yesterday and want to create a great salad fit for a fine brunch using a recipe from Country Living magazine. Yes. I am starting to read recipes and imagining the dishes I could create!

Making lists is a comforting practice for me. I amke “To Do” lists all the time and especially like it when I can cross things off my list. Other lists are great to stimulate thinking such as “Things That are Pink in April” and “Things That are Blue in June.”  Tomorrow, I think I will post about list-making and share some examples. Be well!