5 Ways to Relax and De-Stress That Aren’t Escape Habits
Escape habits. We all have them. Whether it’s watching an entire Netflix season in one sitting to distract yourself from the stress of work or drinking a whole bottle of wine to take the edge off of your anxiety, there are plenty of ways we all escape from the parts of our lives that we don’t feel like facing.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a glass of wine and a movie. But the trouble comes when we overindulge in things like social media, unhealthy food and altered states for the purpose of escaping the low vibration feelings of stress, sadness or boredom in our lives.
The truth is, when we use our escape habits to run from these feelings, they’re still there on the other side waiting for us. And, while we may be temporarily avoiding negative feelings, we’re often simultaneously keeping ourselves from real, positive feelings like joy, gratitude and love.
The good news is, there are plenty of ways to care for yourself after a hard day at work or relax when your thoughts are spiraling that don’t involve avoiding everything in your life. Better yet, many of them even help you face and process the things you’re trying to escape to begin with.
Here are 5 ways to spend your time consciously and stay present in your life, while also addressing underlying worry and stress.
Meditate: Meditating for even as little as three minutes a day helps clear your mind of stressful circular thought patterns and worrisome ruminations. There are many different styles of meditation with different visualization and breathing techniques. I recommend starting with an app like Headspace for beginners, starting with their three-minute trainings and working up to 30 minutes a day.
Create: Whether you enjoy writing, painting, baking or even just whipping out your kid’s crayons for some coloring book time, creating something has the benefit of giving you a deeply immersive singular focus, much like meditation. We are constantly overstimulated and distracted such that we rarely have an opportunity to get into a meditative flow state, which is that wonderful feeling of being so deeply engrossed in something that you lose track of time.
Move: There’s a reason yoga is such a popular holistic practice, and it isn’t just the toned abs and glutes. When we move our bodies, we help move the feelings we’re holding in them, too. Movement practices, whether it’s yoga, running, dancing or hitting the gym, help reduce the tension and tightness in areas where our worries tend to manifest, like the chest, shoulders and stomach. You’ll also come out on the other side with a healthy dose of endorphins, too.
Connect: We are social creatures, with a strong need for community and connection. Unfortunately, many of our modern day ways of socializing don’t always provide us with the level of feeling seen and heard that we truly need to feel connected to others. Try calling (not texting) a friend and asking them to share how they’re really doing. Ask your partner or roommate if you can talk over dinner instead of eating in front of the TV. Reach out to someone who’s been on your mind and tell them why.
Journal: Taking a moment to put words on paper when you have a lot going on helps to organize your thoughts and make you feel more clarity about a situation. There are no limits on what you can journal about. You could write about what you’re grateful for to improve your mood, or who you aspire to be to motivate you, and so on. Grab a pen and paper and journal at any time of day, prompted or unprompted.
Try working all of these activities into a week, swapping out some of your escape habits for time spent on these. Notice how you feel before, during and after these activities where you are staying present vs. those where you’re escaping. If you notice a positive difference, build a few of these into a daily routine to keep the momentum going.
Geri Paige Butner is a life coach, business coach, and speaker who helps people create a life and work they love. Follow her on Instagram or join the email list to gain access to valuable firestarters for life and work.
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