Of course you’re stressed. Everything is awful. You’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, you can’t afford to visit the doctor, you’re single, and all your so-called “friends” are laughing at you behind your back.
Life can be hard. Like, all the time, constantly weighing on you, eating away at what remains of your soul. But take heart! You can’t make life any easier, but you can soothe that stress with a little TLSC: tender loving self-care.
Give some of these techniques a try the next time you’re feeling stressed, which will probably be in about fifteen minutes. If you’re lucky.
We’ve been over this and over this. Meditation is simple, it’s free (except for TM), and you can do it almost anywhere. There are tons of techniques and a thousand ways to learn. Just twenty minutes a day of quietly focusing on your breath or repeating a mantra silently can go a long way towards relieving stress. Best of all, the results spill over into the rest of your life; meditating on a regular basis increases feelings of peace and well-being even when you’re not meditating.
Breathe in. Hold it a little. Now breathe out. Keep doing that, slowly. Pay attention to each breath. That’s about it. Doing this even for just a minute relaxes your mind and your muscles and keeps you grounded.
It’s good for you physically, mentally, and emotionally. Go for a run. Life some weights. Ride your bike. Even taking a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood gets you out of your head and into your body. The benefits are manifold and powerful.
Speaking of getting into your body: a body scan is a great way to notice and relax points of stress and tension in your muscles. Close your eyes and feel each part of your body, starting at the toes and working your way up (some people prefer to work in the opposite direction). Feel, tense, and relax each muscle in turn. In addition to being a form of meditation, a good body scan relieves some of the most noticeable physical symptoms of stress.
We’re still sort of dabbling in meditation-adjacent concepts, but here’s another goodie: practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is a Buddhist concept, but it has plenty of secular value and it’s been scientifically validated as a tool for emotional regulation. Mindfulness is sometimes described as “paying attention on purpose.” Instead of becoming lost in vague, often negative thought, ground your attention in your physical reality in the present moment. Feel your bodily sensations. Let the sounds in your environment fill the space in your mind normally occupied by thought. Learn to observe thoughts as passing objects in consciousness rather than identifying with them.
It’s simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Practice makes perfect.
Listen to Music
Put on your favorite songs if you want to turn off, or try something new if you want to get your mind going. For pure relaxation, experiment with jazz or classical music. Yes, they are old and most of those dudes are dead now, but something about the instrumentation, the lack of lyrics, and the virtuosity of these older works seems to downshift the brain into a mellower gear.
Write It Down
Try keeping a journal or composing angry emails (but don’t send them). Just the act of articulating your frustrations clearly helps to assuage them. Instead of walking around with your mind in a vague state of unease, crystallizing your annoyances into legible thought puts your problems into perspective and makes them seem more manageable.
I meant “light up” like, use some scented candles. But weed helps a lot of people, too.
Get A Lobotomy
If all else fails, nothing beats the old-school charm of a full frontal lobotomy. Keep in mind there will be side effects, including a basic inability to care for yourself or express complex thoughts. But for full-on, permanent relaxation, nothing else comes close.
So wrap yourself in a blanket and have your caretake roll you over by the window. You’re home now.