Remember when you were little and life was a little less stressful? Ok, a lot less stressful? Adulthood came with a ton of freedoms, but it certainly amped things up in the stress department too. And while you left a lot of good things behind in your childhood (bad hair cuts, horrible fashions, puberty…) you may have left some pretty awesome stress relieving activities behind as well.
Obviously, you can’t get into a time machine and go back to the carefree days of your childhood. But you can embrace some of the carefree activities you used to love as a kid. And they can help to support yourself in so many ways!
Here are 4 awesome stress relieving activities from your childhood that you should definitely be doing as an adult.
Sometimes the idea of creating a self care plan and making time for one more thing can sound like a lot. But many of these stress relieving activities can easily be done fairly quickly or over time. Plus, finding ways to relieve stress is in your best interest – stress can have a major affect on our overall health after all. There’s also a free self care planner that you can download, which helps you create a realistic self care plan that works around your schedule. Booyah!
Let’s get our stress relief on:
Colouring made a comeback. And it’s not just for kids anymore. We’ve got tons of grown-up options baby! From intricate, entrancing mandala’s, to holiday themed goodies, to colouring books based on your favourite novels (I may or may not have everything Sarah J Maas has to offer…)
While you may have retired your pencil crayons years ago, it’s time to consider jumping back on the bandwagon. This trend doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. And there’s a reason for that.
Colouring might lower stress, amp up your creative energy and even helps with relaxation and sleep.
According to Psychologist Gloria Martínez Ayala: “The relaxation that [colouring] provides lowers the activity of the amygdala, a basic part of our brain involved in controlling emotion that is affected by stress.” (source)
But colouring provides us with more than just an opportunity to relax. It gives us a creative release with no stakes, a rare treat.
Janis Timm-Bottos, an Associate Professor of Creative Arts Therapy from Concordia University says that colouring can even be a form of meditation, as the repetitive rhythm of colouring calms and distracts the mind.
Not to mention, most of us associate colouring with positive childhood memories. According to Janis “It was a time when you didn’t have to do things in a certain way because you were playing” (source). Revisiting positive childhood experiences can help to make us feel pretty damn zen.
So pick up some pencil crayons, grab a colouring book and get ready to relax. Embrace that sweet moment of creative freedom. Feel free to make the grass purple, the sky green or even colour outside the lines. Be a creative rebel and have fun!
I know doodling has a bad rap as a waste of time, and is often seen as a give-away that someone has totally tuned out, but hear me out. Because doodling is truly pretty awesome and the stigma surrounding it needs to go. Why?
Doodling is actually a powerful intellectual tool and it may even help you retain more information.
Kids don’t just doodle because they’re bored. They do it because it’s a completely natural part of human development. Think of doodling as a visual language that helps you bring your ideas to life and retain the information around you. And, super bonus, doodling is a simple stress relieving activity that anyone can easily do, regardless of artistic skill.
Sunni Brown, leader of The Doodle Revolution – a growing effort to debunk the myth that doodling is a distraction, explains why we need to do away with all the doodle hate in her fantastic Ted Talk.
She sees doodling as a way to ignite your entire mind. Sunni explains that creating spontaneous marks help you think. And doodlers tend to retain up to 29% more verbal information than those who don’t. Why? Because doodling can actually help to keep you focused.
Surprisingly, doodling engages all 4 learning modalities (auditory, visual, kinestetic and reading and writing) and can even add an emotional element. This is basically memory making candy for your lovely brain.
But there’s so much more goodness to be found in doodling.
Doodling can help to bring your ideas to life.
When the creative itch finds you, doodles can be a quick and easy way to get your ideas on paper. And once your doodle is done, you can get to work on bringing your ideas to life.
Sound too good to be true? This is actually how Frank Gehry rolls. And remember, he’s the architectural genius behind works like the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health (source). While his doodles might not make sense to anyone else, they make sense to him. And, at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.
But how does doodling fit into your self care routine?
Doodles deserve to be one of your go-to stress relieving activities. Not only is it a tool for emotional expression, studies also showed that it activates the brain’s reward pathways (source). Doodling can improve your perceptions of yourself, help to regulate your mood and even make you feel good.
And hey, since you’re retaining more information and bringing more of your ideas to life, you may just find yourself feeling less stressed and a little more satisfied. So doodle away darling.
Recess and play dates may be a thing of the past, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be making play a priority. The need to play is something you’ll never outgrow. There’s this idea that once we reach adulthood we have outgrown our playful needs. But this couldn’t be any further from the truth.
Play is essential, regardless of your age.
And since play can apply to so many different activities, it’s totally adaptable to your likes and needs. Plus, this means you have a whole slew of goodness to add to your roster of stress relieving activities.
How exactly does playing help to relieve stress?
Playing can trigger a release of feel good endorphins, giving you a sense of well being as well as reducing stress (source). And since playing is usually a group activity, it can strengthen relationships and help us create tighter bonds with the people we love.
Super bonus! Play stimulates our imagination and encourages creativity and problem solving. We often learn best when we’re having fun, after all.
Play is hard to define – it’s extremely adaptable to our likes and interests. Which means that it’s something everyone can enjoy. And since it’s also good for our minds, our bodies, and our spirits, play is something we should take with us into adulthood.
We all need to indulge in entertaining, stress relieving activities that we enjoy.
So whether it be escape rooms, Lego, board games, tag, finger painting, video games, or anything else… give yourself permission to play. Heck, make up your own game. It always worked well for the Marshall in How I Met Your Mother. Anyone up for a game of marshgammon?
Naps are amazing! And they definitely shouldn’t have been left on the mats they had us rest on for nap time in kindergarten.
You know who’s tired, under slept and subsisting off of gallons of coffee? Most of us! Seriously! Americans alone drink around 400 million cups of coffee a day. A freaking day! (source) And with a Tim Hortons on almost every block in my hometown, I don’t imagine Canada is light on the coffee either.
But guess what else can easily make you feel more alert and energized? Naps!
And it doesn’t end there. Power naps boost creativity, improve memory and productivity and even help you learn. Super bonus, regular power naps can even reduce your risk of heart disease (source). And, of course, they help to reduce stress.
A bad night sleep can ramp up stress levels (increasing fight or flight hormones) and even hinder your immune function. But throw a power nap into the mix and you can undo that damage and even boost your mood (source).
So how can you nap like a pro?
If you want to get the best out of a power nap, there are a few things you need to know.
Sleep has 5 stages:
- Stage 1 – light sleep. Your muscles start to relax, but you can easily be awoken.
- Stage 2 – 15 to 30 minutes into the sleep cycle. You’re more detached and real sleep kicks in. Body temperature drops, brain and muscle activity slow down.
- Stage 3 and 4 – Approximately 45 minutes into the sleep cycle. This is deep sleep, breathing slows, muscles relax, brain activity decreases significantly.
- R.E.M. – 90 minutes into the sleep cycle. Rapid eye movement. You’re dreaming; your brain is super active but your muscles are paralyzed.
When we nap, our goal is to wake up energized and alert. And we can only do that if we wake up before we reach stage 3, or after we’ve completed an entire sleep cycle (source).
So a good power nap is 20 to 40 minutes long. Unless you have 90 minutes to spare, don’t rest any longer… or you could feel sleepier and groggier than you did before you started. Basically, the exact opposite of what we’re going for.
And if possible, try and nap before 3 o’clock. If you push it too late you might have a hard time catching some z’s later that night.
Need help making self care a priority?
I’ve got you covered with a free self-care planner. Click the image below or download it here to get started.
I hope these ideas give you some fun, relaxing and easy options for go-to stress relieving activities. Stress can effect your whole body and prolonged stress can have negative effects on your health. Stress is even a pretty big autoimmune disease trigger. And even if you’re autoimmune disease free, prolonged stress affects you emotionally and physically.
Learning how to cope with stress is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. But if your stress becomes too big to carry, remember that you don’t have to handle it alone. Counsellors or therapists can not only help you get to the root of the problem, they can also help you discover the stress relieving activities that work for you. It’s always ok to find a shoulder to learn on when you need it.
Your turn: Share the stress relieving activities that work best for you in the comments.
Health and love,
Thought of the day: You are never too old to relax.
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