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What Do You Do to Beat Stress?


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Over the course of my life, I have done different types of things to slow down and unwind. When I was young, I didn't think of stress as something that could be...Well, so darn STRESSFUL!!! I just preferred to do things that I enjoyed. If they relieved stress, then that was just a bonus.

 

Today, I see stress as the enemy. It affects me in ways that are both physical and mental. In the past year, I have begun tracking my blood pressure and also my mood. Both have suffered. My blood pressure used to be extremely low and now it is routinely in the "elevated" zone. There are so many things that I am unable to do for myself due to my work schedule or because I am caring for my mom. I still manage to finagle a couple of rituals into my life to try to combat the stress, though. One thing that I do (almost) every evening is walk in the dark in my mom's apartment while listening to ocean sounds. I find that it is really soothing and helps to put me in a better frame of mind before going to bed. Another is listening to bird sounds for a few minutes in the morning, when I throw seeds out onto the patio. The app that I use for birdsongs helps to elevate my mood, That recording sings, even if the local birds don't feel like breaking out in song. Lastly, I learned to push back and say, "No." For such a little word, it has outsized power. It helps to keep me from taking on additional projects and committing myself to doing too many favors for others. Self-preservation is the first law of nature. I am no good to anyone else, if I don't take care of myself.

 

So... What do you do to beat stress?

 

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When DH was so sick my B/p went way up. Don't know how long it was 210/200. That was a lot of stress. Doctor put me on a new blood pressure med and another med, and it started coming down. Not happy about being on it, but that was way too high. So, the way now I handle stress is to lay back on couch and listen to Christian music. Sometimes I will curl up with a good book and read. It seems to relax me. 

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I listen to nature sounds too. Especially at night in bed. I like thunderstorms. I've made some of my own hour long CD's where I threw in an occasional sound of an Amish buggy driving by. I pretend I'm in Amish country. :blush:    Wish I could find the software I used before they changed me to Windows 10. I could manipulate so many things with it.

 

I made another one of night sounds that I find soothing. Frogs, crickets, cicadas, a fly buzzing by and the sound of a fish jumping in a pond. At the beginning a buggy pulls up to stop to listen in. A person (me :buttercup:) says, "Whoa Buster." Buster whinnies and I say, "Shhh, Buster."  Another whinny and I say, "Buster! Shhh!" Buster gives a little sigh. I threw in a few more horse whispers along the way. Half way through another buggy drives by in the distance. I've spent a LOT of time in Amish country taping sounds to put together. I swear I'm going to get my Windows 7 computer fixed.

 

Also, I take long baths. 

 

I'm considering Yoga. 

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Jeepers, I didn't think about the nature sound CD's. I have a couple but are packed up due to construction. So, I will pull those out when I start unpacking after they are done. They are relaxing. 

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Over the past couple of years with everything that’s been going on with covid, work related stuff, and my moms health failing and also having to take care of my father in law...my stress levels were through the roof. I’ve always had low blood pressure but I’ve had times where it started getting high. I was getting really bad headaches and I’ve also had some big anxiety attacks...something I’ve never dealt with before.

I’ve started saying No when it comes to work...and a huge stress reliever is when I made the decision to retire a couple of months ago (39 more working days to go). I’ll be poor...but I’ll be alive... <_< I listen to You Tube videos that play calming music and have different scenery...I have this thing called a vibration plate that I use daily and it helps me relax...and the best thing that has worked for me is doing something called EFT tapping. I’ve been doing it for several months now and it’s improved my sleep and it helps me to relax when my stress builds up. Spending time outside in my garden and turning off the news are also things that I do as well.

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Dogmom, your story is so similar to mine... I have thought about leaving my job to alleviate some of the work-related stress, but I'm afraid that I'd pick up additional stress by being a full-time caregiver to mom. Instead, I decided to switch jobs and hope that this one will have fewer...complications.

 

We lost my oldest sister to cancer, just before COVID hit. I have one remaining sibling, but she doesn't exactly share the "mom-care duties" with me. She helps out every other weekend. She is also a little tone deaf and makes comments about how I should take a vacation or it stinks that we can't visit our place in Florida. She just told me that she and her friend are going to spend a week in Orlando this summer. (Am I wrong if I wish for 7 days of thunderstorms in Central Florida?)During the work week, I am only in my own home for about 12 hours total. It is sort of like being homeless and I find that to be stressful, as well.

 

My blood pressure is particularly concerning because my late sister was diabetic and had high blood pressure. As a result, she lost most of her vision and passed away 10 years later. This is something that I am particularly fearful of. I have found one thing to lower my blood pressure, so that has been good. I have been taking niacin pills for the past 2 weeks and my readings have been lower, though not as low as I'd like. I've been trying to avoid being put on BP medication. 

 

I like the idea of yoga and meditation, but I would probably need more of a guided meditation because it is difficult to clear my head and not make a grocery list, to-do list or get distracted by something else.

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3 hours ago, themartianchick said:

I like the idea of yoga and meditation, but I would probably need more of a guided meditation because it is difficult to clear my head and not make a grocery list, to-do list or get distracted by something else.

I have some guided meditations by Belleruth Naperstek. I find her voice and imagery to be soothing and effective. My grief therapist recommended her recordings after our son died and my situation at work was fraught with high stress. 

 

I don't have this one, but it looks like it might be a good one for you. 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/188140594X?ref_=cm_sw_r_cp_ud_dp_ZBJGCMDZY6NEWWSDKHKX

 

 

Edited to add - Here's another one in digital format specifically for stress and anxiety attacks: 

 

https://www.amazon.com/Guided-Meditations-Help-Anxiety-Panic/dp/B09X1Y9GXD/ref=sr_1_13?crid=2S2Y6AEEMRHK9&keywords=health+journeys+guided+meditations+digital&qid=1650419470&s=books&sprefix=health+journeys+guided+mediations+digital%2Cstripbooks%2C51&sr=1-13#audibleproductdetails_feature_div

Edited by Cricket
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Things I do that help me deal with my stress (working mom and full time homeschooling with HIGH anxiety so it's a constant need to work on this)

1) Try to get at least 7-8 hrs sleep a night

2) Aromatherapy- I use essential oils a mix of lavendar, lemon and peppermint especially soothing to me

3) Classical Guitar or Violin/Cello music. I love this and it instantly lifts my spirit and soothes me

4) I figured out how to get my work to let me work from home. This eliminated my commute and also lets me pace my day.

5) Meal planning- knowing what is for dinner and being able to thaw it ahead of time if needed helps a lot

6) Spending time in nature- just sitting in a forest, or taking a hike or gardening helps me

7) I almost forgot- I use a breathing technique called 4 square breathing- in count of 4, hold count of 4, out count of 4, pause before inhaling again for a count of 4. SUPER helpful for me to regulate when I'm anxious

 

I grew up meditating (both my parents were TM teachers) and it is a tool I know I can use if I want to but the above help me personally more. I do enjoy doing yoga but I don't really find it relaxing more challenging :D

Edited by Becca_Anne
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Becca Anne, I'll try that four square breathing technique. I use controlled breathing when my asthma starts acting up. 

 

Oh, and I have used good old Rescue Remedy for decades. Back when I would have PMS and now for high stress. 

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 The kitchen is my happy place and whenever I am stressed, upset or bored, I cook something or go do some gardening. Bread is great, but the biggest stress buster is to make a big batch of meatballs from scratch, or stand and stir a pot of risotto. Weeding and generally pottering around in the garden does the job as well. Doing something because you want to, rather than because you have to I think is the best stress buster. 

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Martianchick, I see absolutely nothing wrong with hoping that nice rain system drops necessary rain in Florida. :)

Here is a link to a YouTube video of the tapping I do. I’ve never been good at meditation either but for some reason this works for me to keep me focused...it’s probably the tapping part. I listen to one to help me fall asleep at night...I never finish it because i fall out before it’s over.

https://youtu.be/Sqe3h3l8a7w

 

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Sometimes when I need to fall asleep fast I count breaths. Inhale one. Exhale two. Nothing measured or timed. I used to count higher but I'd doze off and have to start all over again. Then I figured I'd just go to 2 and save the aggravation.   In 1, for however long it is and out 2, for however long my body decides. I suppose I'm not thinking about the breathing but about the number.

 

I have a terrible time falling asleep. I have gone over 48 hours without sleeping many times. When it gets that bad I have to take an Ambien for a coupe of nights in a row to get my rhythm straightened out. Nothing else works for me. I either get really bad nightmares or restless leg syndrome. Both keeps me up even longer. 

 

Relax my muscles on the bed and breathe in and think 1.   Breathe out and think 2. 

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On 4/19/2022 at 11:31 PM, out_of_the_ordinary said:

Magnesium helps me.   I'm magnesium deficient and magnesium helps us deal with stress (among hundreds of other things).    I keep rereading The Magnesium Miracle by Dr. Carolyn Dean.  

So, I have to laugh at this one!

Not at the idea of taking magnesium, but because I share the same name as Dr. Dean! I have come across her work online, but never read any of it. I do take magnesium and found that it helps me to sleep and also helps to slightly lower my blood pressure. Magnesium is a mild diuretic and allows the body to purge some excess water and apparently, being slightly dehydrated reduces the blood pressure.

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On 4/19/2022 at 9:50 PM, Becca_Anne said:

Things I do that help me deal with my stress (working mom and full time homeschooling with HIGH anxiety so it's a constant need to work on this)

1) Try to get at least 7-8 hrs sleep a night

2) Aromatherapy- I use essential oils a mix of lavendar, lemon and peppermint especially soothing to me

3) Classical Guitar or Violin/Cello music. I love this and it instantly lifts my spirit and soothes me

4) I figured out how to get my work to let me work from home. This eliminated my commute and also lets me pace my day.

5) Meal planning- knowing what is for dinner and being able to thaw it ahead of time if needed helps a lot

6) Spending time in nature- just sitting in a forest, or taking a hike or gardening helps me

7) I almost forgot- I use a breathing technique called 4 square breathing- in count of 4, hold count of 4, out count of 4, pause before inhaling again for a count of 4. SUPER helpful for me to regulate when I'm anxious

 

I grew up meditating (both my parents were TM teachers) and it is a tool I know I can use if I want to but the above help me personally more. I do enjoy doing yoga but I don't really find it relaxing more challenging :D

Thank you, Becca_AnneI do try to get enough sleep, but I have had difficulty in defining the term "enough.

Lavender and peppermint are 2 favorites that I had forgotten about. I should dig some of my old oils out.

Working from home is not an option for me right now, but I will eventually return to my consulting business and set my own hours and workspace!

I can't remember when the last time was that I planned a dinner that wasn't a special occasion. Usually, I just cook whatever is quick and easy.

I have never heard of 4 square breathing, but I am intrigued!

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  • 5 weeks later...

So...I've got two lists - one I've done, one I would like to do.

 

Things I've done:
1) Get enough rest! If there's any chance of getting 8-9 hours of sleep, I take it. If I deal with insomnia, I try to wake up as late as I can to "make up for it" and not get sleep deprived...if neither of those work, a 5-20 minute nap helps!

2) Get in nature. Fresh air, the sound of a tiny waterfall, trees swaying in a gentle breeze, sunlight, light exercise (slow to moderate walking)...all of it.

3) Eat. Eggs, avocado toast, chocolate, nuts, salad.

4) Drink. Water, tea (green, raspberry, etc.), hot chocolate, kombucha.

5) Comfort! My favorite socks and/or slippers, a warm sweater, a weighted blanket, a longer hug, an encouraging word, calling a friend, candles, a video about my favorite animal(s), music to suit (or change) my mood, deep breathing, aromatherapy, humor...anything that'll uplift me a bit.

6) Read. I'd put it in #5, but books are too versatile to not be in their own category...so. Books of lists (I have a....few. Haha!), calming journals, a light mystery read...whatever floats my boat at the time.

7) Light! Sunlight, firelight, candles, low lighting, grow lights (opposite of all the softer lighting, but sometimes I just need that gentle "shock" of light).

8) The Word of God. Whether I find wisdom in a Proverb, comfort in a Psalm, "lists of how to live" (https://www.openbible.info/topics/how_we_should_live_our_lives, https://www.openbible.info/topics/how_god_wants_us_to_live, etc.), etc....His Word is sufficient for EVERYTHING.

9) Talk. With the Lord, with my family, with my friends...to myself...if not with my voice, then with my pen(...cil). It can help me process, learn, bounce ideas off others (or myself, if I'm having hypothetical conversations in my head/on the page), etc.!

10) Delegate what I can! Cleaning, cooking, child-care (for when I have kids)...if someone's offered to help, accept the offer graciously, humbly, and gratefully. They want to help, and I need it. No shame in asking for or accepting help!

11) Move. Walks, stretches, light(-ish?) to moderate pilates...dancing...movement helps physically, emotionally, mentally, and sometimes even spiritually!

12) Get something done! Accomplishing a task I want to accomplish can help...if that means I make a list and put "brush hair" on it just to strike it off, so be it.

I think overall, everything narrows down to engaging my senses...Sight, sound, scent, taste, touch. And engaging my mind & body in general...

 

Things I'd like to try:

1) Routine stretching

2) Journaling (more consistently..?)

3) Pranamat (Can anyone tell me more about this acupressure/acupuncture type thing?)

4) Meditation (primarily on God's Word)

5) Learning a new language (In the process!)

6) Cooking, baking, gardening, etc. (more often)

7) A blog (Oh, help me), freelancing (why is public writing intimidating to me?), pen pals...the overall thought being writing.

8) Take a few classes - dance, herbalism (all natural remedies!!), fancy cooking(??), sign language, etc.

9) Fermenting!! I think learning it would be a fun stress reducer, and taking care of myself would help!

10) "Detoxes". Social media, screens in general, junk food (hey, I like chips and salsa!), etc.

11) Habit tracking (food, water, sleep, dreams, etc.)

12) Budgeting, meal planning, etc. (I do, but I do so as a stay-at-home daughter soon to be stay-at-home wife...I'd like to "re-"start all these homemaking skills as a wife, and not in this in-between stage of life).

13) Volunteer (again)! Sometimes helping others helps me get my mind off my own never-ending list of things to do, worry about, etc.

Overall, this one is more...varied? Still very self-care related, but also more about cutting things out, learning, and helping and/or providing for others. <3

(P.S., I'm keeping up on all your great ideas! ^_^)

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Joyfield Redhead, some of what you post I am already doing. I sit for a while during the day to just relax and read my Bible. I listen to Christian music as that relaxes me, I mostly listen to that in the evenings to unwind. And yes, when I feel stressed out, I walk around house doing things that need to be done and talk to the Lord while I am doing it. Got more into that habit after DH's passing. Working in garden is a great stress reliever, and I need to get out there and do some weeding. One of the things I ask the Lord is to let me have a plentiful garden. I talk to him as I am planting my seeds asking him to give me a good crop if it is in his will to do so. I stay so busy these days that I really haven't had time to think about being stressed out, but I know that I do get that way sometimes. I like a lot of the ideas all of you have mentioned. I am going to have to try some of those as well. I do have a couple of meditation tapes but are packed up due to construction. GS did find the DVD's and has been watching those, but the meditation tapes must be in box with the CD's. I will find them as I can get things put away again.

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Stress comes equally from 'good' and 'bad' events.   A wedding is just as stressful as a divorce.  I'll start out by acknowledging my crazy.  I am VERY crazy.   I have a therapist, I have a psychiatrist, I am on medication.   It is a functional issue, not a 'better living through chemistry' issue.  I'm OCD, agoraphobic, social anxieties through the roof, tics, and a few others.   I create some of my own stress because.....I'm crazy.   

 

Ways I manage it:

Therapist

Zoloft Rx (seriously the only reason I'm alive.  best treatment for agoraphobia/ OCD!)

Journaling

Art/ crafting --drawing, painting, crochet, writing, planners (I do the whole decorating with adult stickers thing)

Cooking -- for myself and others.   I love doing things that make other people happy and I'm good at cooking.

Reading -- some for myself and some for the baby.   I used to read one fiction book a day for decades.  Now I do roughly 1-2 non fiction a week and 1 fiction a month. 

TV / Movies   I stream videos that I like.  Some kid friendly, some not.  Currently Encanto and Westworld.   I have a love/hate relationship with 'we don't talk about Bruno no no no....'  Bruno is in my dreams.  It used to be 'LET IT GO.......'     Disney is evil and awesome at the same time.  

Bath supplies.   salts, bubbles, soaps, scents.   also face masks, etc.   

Video games.  Computer and phone.   Animal Restaurant.   Dungeons and Dragons Online, Jigsaw puzzle, Solitaire, etc.

Family game night --Catan, connect 4, Taboo, etc.

Nature sounds app on phone  --rain and thunderstorm.  

If all else fails....Vodka.  Better living through chemistry is the last resort.  :sassing:

 

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