In some situations, I find it pretty hard to relax.
There’s not really a measure for what kind of situation will push the internal freak-out button in me, and there doesn’t seem to be any sort of logical correlation between such situations, either. I’m ridiculously impressionable – sometimes, listening to sad or angry music alone will get to me – kind of like this meme of Jesus:
Other times, it can be social situations – though, again, the hand of anxiety strikes very randomly, as I’m pretty good on most occasions (particularly with the presence of alcohol. Thanks, alcohol). I’m not the quietest person, so making small talk is not usually a real issue for me – unless the stress-bells toll.
Other times, I’ll start to freak out about all the thoughts bubbling away in my brain. Do you ever feel like your thoughts have a weight, and the more you get wound up about something, the more it stockpiles, into a dirty huge mess of bracken sitting right in the centre of your brain? I swear that thoughts can be hefty – the meaner the thoughts, the heavier they are, and that’s why you feel tired when you’re in a negative mood – from lugging around all that extra weight all day.
Personally, I find the following to be great anxiety-vanquishers – so I thought I’d share them with the skittish sailors of my readership. I hope they help.
Adult colouring books
You’ve likely heard of this colourful craze that’s currently taking over the nation. Adult colouring books have hit the shelves of Waterstones and WH Smiths with more force than Fifty Shades of Grey (this is what I tell myself, anyway) and everybody is lapping them up.
My burgeoning attempts to colour.
This tells me two things –
- a) people love – I would argue need – to be creative
- b) a lot of adults are probably more stressed than they let on.
The methodical process of colouring and the excuse to sniff felt pen fumes with the ardour of a drug addict (kidding) make this activity an incredibly relaxing enterprise indeed. It’s no coincidence that taking a walk on the creative side keeps anxious thoughts at bay, and adult colouring books take this walk to the next level – scaling mental mountains and valleys, making relaxing EXTREME.
Just try to keep inside the lines.
Incense and oils
I’ve always found great comfort in smells. I love smelly things. I love fresh cut grass (who doesn’t). I love the way toast smells (the sweet, sweet gas of a carb). I love it when my boyfriend drinks beer and has stinky beer-man-breath (I wish he would drink more, but I suppose his organs matter more than my whims and fancies).
It’s a great injustice, really, that I’m allergic to bubble bath – I end up having the most depressing baths in the world – totally soulless, bubble-less, joyless dips. I’m essentially a frog in a very clean pond: making odd burpy noises, sitting and doing not a lot while being heavily associated with France.
This is why I often turn to incense and oils to give my nose (and brain) the smelly perks it so desires. We have about three incense holders in our house and an oil burner, and several candles – if we lit them all at once, our house would probably explode and bubble over like a failed experiment in a witch’s cauldron. It looks ritualistic as all heck in my living room but damn, it smells good.
One of the many incense posts in my flat.
Huffington Post even says there’s a science behind the sniff: cinnamon sharpens your mind, pine scents can alleviate stress, citrus will help you get energised and vanilla helps you to calm the frick down. I wonder when the new Cinnpinecitilla perfume’s coming out?
Milky drinks (avec or sans alcohol)
Milk is the lactose-y juice of the Gods. I love milk, a lot. Not cold milk, straight from the carton or bottle – no. I love milk with a kick. Milkshakes or lattes or ovaltine or hot chocolate or Baileys coffees (a love which was ignited in me courtesy of my sweet mama, who would force-feed me one or two after a particularly tiring or gruelling day at college, way back when).
A crazy-good hot chocolate I had from Hotel Chocolat (fittingly) on a trip to Edinburgh this year. Recommend x 56036843068340.
There’s a great comfort in holding something warm in your hands when you’re feeling stressed. A great coffee can honestly be the highlight of my day (my life isn’t always that exciting). If you’re feeling a little low, try wrapping yourself up in a bunch of comfort-wear (socks and scarves e.t.c.) and making yourself a hot beverage, perhaps without alcohol but certainly with milk.
Unless you’re lactose intolerant – then oh boy! You should go for soy.
Games with plinky-plunky music
If you’re already stressed out, perhaps re-downloading Slenderman (after deleting it 10 times, because you get scared looking at the icon on your desktop, but then you forget how awful the experience of playing it is over time and try it again anyway) or opening your abandoned Outlast file is not the best idea. Not only will you still feel bummed, you’ll be fucking screaming on top of that. Not the best combination.
I recommend a nice game with plinky-plunky music instead. Such as:
- a) Child of Light
- b) Never Alone
- c) Final Fantasy: A Realm Reborn (the MMO I’ve just started playing, you can run around and beat up sassy looking cacti, it’s amazing)
- d) Domestic Dog Simulator
- e) Cat Goes Fishing (In the words of Shia La Boeuf, “JUST DO IT”. I’m so happy I finished my degree before I got this game. It’s ridiculously therapeutic. I’m too embarrassed to tell you how many hours I’ve clocked up playing it).
These are all brilliant and fairly simple games to indulge in when you’re feeling shitty: no exertion, pure entertainment and them calm feels.
There’s no better therapy than nature. Even getting outside your door for two minutes to sit on your porch and drink your milky beverage (please refer to “Milky drinks (avec or sans alcohol)” for further details) works wonders. Natural sunlight and feeling the wind on your face, and the how-did-they-get-there twigs in your hair, and soft, smushy soil underfoot, are incredibly likely to give your soul that little cuddle it needs, and your heart an extra skip of positivity. You don’t mess with Mother Nature – but she’s also integrally kind.
Perhaps you should keep a journal.
We live in a nation of excellent “bottlers” where the general consensus is not to overshare – something that can be good, but also bad if you’re containing lots of bad juju that you need to get out. Journals are a great way to suck up such juju – you don’t need to worry about it thinking you’re self-obsessed or demented. Your journal does not care in the slightest. In fact, it does not have any thoughts: it just helps you to iron out yours. So say anything you want.
You don’t have to express yourself through writing, either. Journals are platforms that you can jazz up in a myriad of creative ways: make it colourful and artistic. Pinterest is jam-packed with inspiration on this topic – I’ll let you scrutinize my board as an example (and there’s way more out there).
You could also invest in a pre-twiddled-with journal geared towards positive thinking – for instance, the One Line A Day journal. You write one line a day (as the title may suggest) every day, for five years, and while you’re filling it in see the lovely things that happened to you in previous years on the same day.
Or, if you’re more of a rebel without a cause type, why not get a Wreck This Journal? You do exactly what it says on the tin. Wreck it. Some people have had some pretty good ideas:
OR, if you hate journalling entirely and want to watch the world burn, why don’t you just buy a journal and throw it in the fire, as that seems to be where you get your kicks and maybe it will help you to chill out for a day or two.
Looking at pictures of animals
My most recent scrapbooking endeavour.
Must like artistic journalling, really. Scrapbooking is the old king of the “cut and stick” enterprise, and looking at all your old photos and pictures you like and all that shit is a great mood temperer. It’s great to get things off of digital and do it with your hands, too, before they turn into flacid paws you can’t use at all due to having not written/drawn/scrapbooked in 5 or more years.
Any more suggestions? Feel free to comment with your own blues busters and stress reducers. I’d love to hear them!