Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Top 10 Stress Relief Strategies From Your Inner Child

[Today's article is a reprint from stress.About.com. I have added a few comments enclosed in [ ] brackets.]

From Your Guide, Elizabeth Scott Created: June 21, 2007

About.com Health's Disease and Condition content is reviewed by Steven Gans, M.D.

As kids, certain stress relief strategies came naturally. As adults, however, we may have forgotten how to relieve stress, and find ourselves consumed by it. Looking for new stress relief strategies, you may want to look back to the 'good old days' when you knew how to relax. Read about the adult stress relief strategies related to our old childhood pastimes, and click on the links for more information on how to incorporate them into your lifestyle today.

1. Daydreaming

As a child, most of us spent time just making up stories in our heads. Day-dreams about fun times, being the best at something, or just lying in a beautiful field are all things most kids know how to create, and do so naturally. Your inner child can keep that creativity alive while reducing stress, increasing wellness, and creating inner peace with guided imagery and visualizations, both proven methods that can easily be part of just about anyone’s stress management bag of tricks.

2. Naps

As a small child, you either loved them or hated them, but chances are, you took naps. Sadly, many adults associate napping with laziness or lack of drive. However, curling up in a comfortable chair or even lying your head down on your desk for a quick snooze brings relaxation as well as increased productivity and health benefits. Not everybody can fit it into their lifestyle, but if you can find a way, working a nap into your schedule really pays off. Your inner child will thank you.

[Michelle adds: Many corporations are on-board with the recent research into the increased productivity benefit of naps and offer lounges with cots or comfy chairs where employees can catch a few zzzz's. If your company doesn't offer this, drop a note into the Suggestion Box. A smart employer will implement the suggestion and thank you!]

3. Getting Hugs from Loved Ones

Most likely at some point in your childhood, when you faced stressful times, a hug from Mommy (or another loved one) was enough to make it better, or at least help you feel safer and calmer. Sometimes we forget the power of touch and social support as adults. Next time you’re facing hard times, don’t forget to get emotional support from friends.

4. Playing with Pets

When kids play with animals, you can see the pure love and affection that they share. If you had a pet as a child, you probably remember that animal as a buddy, whether it was a hamster, dog or horse. But as adults we sometimes forget to connect with our animal friends. Pets have been shown to reduce blood pressure better than medication, increase healthy lifestyle behaviors, and sometimes give better social support than humans! Let your furry friends help make your inner child happy again.

5. Singing

As kids, we sung tons of songs, from The Itsy-Bitsy Spider to whatever was on the radio, with little self-consciousness. But how often do you sing as an adult, or even hum or whistle? See if you can get more music in your life and express yourself loudly, quietly, publicly or only in the shower. Don’t worry about being on key, just enjoy yourself. Singing can be a beautiful, fast, cathartic and free stress reliever that just about anyone can enjoy.

[Michelle adds: Absolutely true, though as one who is tone-deaf and can't sing on key to save my life, I usually sing only when at home alone. Another great thing about singing is that it often leads to that other great stress-reducing activity….dancing!]

6. Playing Games

As kids, we always played games. From Chutes and Ladders and Twister to Clue and Go Fish, we knew how to have fun. As adults, we may find ourselves too busy to play games, but don’t underestimate the stress-relieving benefits of a quick game of Boggle or other fun games. And now that you’ve grown up, your inner child can play these games right on your computer!

[Michelle adds: Sudoku…..I am totally hooked on sudoku and play a couple (or more!) games a day. Here is a website that offers free, online puzzles in a variety of difficulty levels. http://www.websudoku.com/ Enjoy!]

7. Drawing, Painting, Sculpting

Just about everyone drew pictures as a kid. However, expressing what’s inside with crayons, pencils or finger paints shouldn’t just be a pastime of kids and a lucky few adults who become professional artists. Whether you doodle with pens while you take a break at work, or buy some artist supplies and go wild in your spare time, working art into your life can help you process emotions, express yourself, relieve stress, and leave you with something to frame, or at least hang on the fridge.

[Michelle adds: if, like me, even your stick figures look weird, there are still artistic options to be enjoyed. I enjoy mandala coloring for one, and have dabbled in Chinese brush painting, both very relaxing pursuits. Also, "art" can extent to other creative endeavors like poetry and creative writing, or craft projects. Just have fun with it!]

8. Writing Notes

As we got older, some of us kept diaries, and we probably all enjoyed writing notes to our friends. These are still good stress management techniques to practice as adults. The health and stress management benefits of journaling have been demonstrated by research, and you can journal about your emotions, record your dreams, or keep a gratitude journal. And if you want to write notes to friends again, you can visit the forum, connect with others, and share your thoughts.

[Michelle adds: Another great way to share your thoughts and opinions via the written word is through email lists. You can easily find a list to join with people who share your tastes and topics by visiting Yahoo!Groups http://groups.yahoo.com/ or Google Groups http://groups.google.com/. Do be careful though; not all groups are created equal and problems can crop up. I suggest you create a free Yahoo! or Google email address to use when subscribing to email groups. If a particular group doesn't work for you or problems arise, you can always leave and try another.]

9. Team Sports

We all remember sports teams as kids. Whether it was tee-ball, soccer, dodge ball or hide-and-seek, playing active games in a group has some great benefits for kids. As an adult, physical games can offer the health and stress management benefits of exercise, and the group involvement can ensure that you’ll keep at it. You can join an adult softball league, play racket ball at your gym, or enjoy other games that are available in your community. Let your inner child come out and play!

[Michelle adds: If you aren't up to the level of activity suggested by these sports, go for something less vigorous but just as good: join a martial arts or qigong class, join (or start your own!) walking or hiking group, participate in a swim aerobics class in your area. These choices satisfy the need for both exercise and social interaction, and they're fun!]

10. Imagining The Future

Do you remember your answers when asked the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And, how are you spending your time now? If you have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to sometimes revisit the question. Are you really doing what you feel you were meant to do? Ask yourself what your ideal life would look like, and then take steps toward that ideal. A good start would be to take the 10-week free e-course on Living a Low-Stress Healthy Lifestyle, and go from there.

[There are two other very beneficial things to do, too. They aren't free, but if you are stressed out, you may need the input of a professional. Consult a Life Coach to help you get on track with where you want to go in life, or visit a Stress Management Consultant like me, someone who has studied and understands the underlying causes of stress and what to do about them. My online or in-person consultations help you recognize all the areas of stress in your life – many can be hidden or unidentified – and help you find ways to relieve stress holistically while creating the happy and healthy life you imagined! Contact me at bewellwithmichelle@yahoo.com]


Geraldine said...

This was very interesting M. Simple steps can be powerful. I am back to doing yoga and also stick to my rule of 'shut down the stress list' as of 6pm every night, but I know I should be doing more to keep calm. Your posts are so helpful. Fun to read and very informative too. Thanks!

Michelle said...

Hi Geraldine,

More and more, I'm finding that the simple things are much easier to do, cost less, and are better for you.

Glad you liked it!

Geraldine said...

Hi again M, YOu've been tagged!!!

shariqq md said...

Thank you very much, I was in need for this. You saved my day.


Sandra Williams said...

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Thank you For Sharing this article.
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