Thursday, November 19, 2015

The #1 Way to Reduce Stress

I've struggled with stress, and anxiety for years.  I have this compulsive need to be perfect and if I can't do it perfectly then I just sit around and worry about it.

After lots of research, and talking with others I have discovered the truth to reducing stress.

You must find what makes YOU happy and do it.  

The other night I received a text for a friend asking me if I was going to make our monthly book club.  I told her I wasn't.  A. I hadn't read the book and B. I thought it was the week before when I had food poisoning and one of the kids had yet another virus.

She responded with, "Find time to go to the beach."

Well, of course, I couldn't do that.  But it got me thinking about making something "like" that happen. So the next morning I packed the gym bag.  I dropped the 3-year-old off at preschool and for the first time I took the 1-year old to the gym with me.

I put on the only swimsuit I had and dove into the pool.  I swam laps for the first time since high school swim team.  It wasn't perfect, but it was me alone in the water.  The only sounds were my breathing and the splashing.  For 25 minutes I had no stresses, no worries, and a peace literally and figuratively washed over me.

I topped off my swim with a few minutes in the sauna.  With my eyes closed, and my swimsuit on I could imagine that I just finished a swim in the ocean and it was a hot summer day.  I had actually found time to "go to the beach."

I left with the gym with a happy kid who had fun playing with other kids his age, a bag full of wet clothes, and a whole new attitude about how to face my day without stress.

Today, I went back and while I swam laps I reflected on happiness.  For years I had tried to do what worked in making others happy.  Not once did I think about what made me happy.  I hate running, I hate gym classes with peppy instructors, and I hate watching a clock.  But the sound and sight of a pool, a lake, an ocean, or even a creek calms me.  I love hot summer days where you walk outside and it's like a big fluffy blanket surrounds you.

I learned that finding time to do what makes me happy (or my own version of it) can give me the brain power to tackle my day without the needless worry and stress.  You might not be able to lunch at a European cafe, or relax at a spa.  But a bistro table on the back patio or a nice bath with candles may be what you need to get that feel.  It may be just the not-so-perfect way to get exactly what you need.

So what about you? Is stress taking over you day?  Have you found what makes you happy?  What ways have you tweaked what you need in order to fit it into your daily world?

Photo: Puhha/dollar Photo Club


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