Remember when you were little and life was a bit 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 rightfully left a lot of things behind in your childhood (bad hair cuts, horrible fashions, puberty…) you may have left some pretty awesome stress relieving activities behind too.
Obviously, you can’t get into a time machine and go back to the carefree days of your childhood. But if you’re feeling stressed you can definitely look back and get great advice on stress relief from your younger self.
There are MARVELOUS, carefree, relaxing activities you used to love as a kid that actually have a ton of stress relief to offer you as an adult. And I promise they won’t cramp your style one bit. Are you ready to let out your inner child and chill?
Without further adieu, here are 4 excellent stress relieving activities to try right now. They may be inspired by your childhood, but you should definitely be doing them as an adult.
Why Stress Relieving Activities Matter
Stress is completely normal. We all feel it sometimes. Small amounts are totally do-able. And sometimes even a good thing (a little fire under your butt can be pretty motivating!)
But when stress piles up it can be hard to cope.
Your body has a pretty intelligent way of reacting to stress and protecting you. Think of it as a super, fantastic alarm system that helps to prepare your body for fight or flight by releasing hormones, increasing your heart rate and raising your blood pressure.
Your brain sees the stressor, fight or flight kicks in and you are ready to take down the threat or run away. Boom, magic!
But that alarm is meant to turn off afterwards so you can relax.
Modern life doesn’t always allow that to happen; so many of us exist in stress mode. And that just isn’t good for you…
According to the Mayo Clinic, long term stress can disrupt almost all of your body’s responses and puts you an increased ricks of health problems like:
- Digestive Issues
- Heart Disease
- Sleep Problems
- Weight Fluctuations
- Memory and Concentration Impairment
Stress is also a potential autoimmune disease trigger. And even if you’re autoimmune disease free, prolonged stress affects you emotionally and physically.
That’s why it’s so important that we develop healthy coping mechanisms and make self-care a priority.
Stress management helps to turn off that alarm system and lets you relax. Even if you aren’t feeling stressed right now, we can all benefit from developing some killer coping mechanism. It helps us feel awesome in the stress-free times and makes up more resilient when stress finds us. (source)
Self-Care Shouldn’t Be Stressful
Developing a self-care routine that’s full of awesome, de-stressing activities is wonderful! But if you already have a full schedule the idea of creating a self-care plan and making time for one more thing can sound like a lot.
Here’s the great news, many of these easy stress relieving activities can be done fairly quickly or over time.
Even better, here’s a printable self-care planner. that can help you plan for some you time. Sometimes penciling it in is a huge help.
Now, let’s get our stress relief on:
4 Excellent Stress Relieving Activities
These 4 stress relieving activities are simple, inexpensive and so easy! They may be inspired by activities that we enjoyed as children but they have so much to offer us as adults.
Reduce stress, lower your risk of heart disease, improve your alertness and memory, feel well, strengthen your relationship and more. We’ll dive deeper into it and nerd out together as we look at all of the options.
If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed and need easy options that can help or just want to amp up your self-care routine, these activities are for you. Let me know which ones you’re the most excited about! Let’s take a look:
1. Spend Some Time Colouring
I know I already touched on this before – but I wanted to dive a lot deeper into what makes colouring so good for your mental health! Because it’s flipping awesome!
Colouring made a comeback. And it’s not just for kids anymore. We’ve got tons of grown-up options baby! From entrancing mandala’s, to Holiday themed designs, 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. (source)
How COOL is it that you can meditate while you flipping colour?!
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.
Basically, when we colour we’re:
- Lowering stress
- Fostering creativity
- Increasing relaxation
- Creating a better night’s sleep
- Relaxing and having so much fun
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!
2. Grab a Journal and Doodle
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 those ideas are so wrong! 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. (source)
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 he’s the architectural genius behind works like the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. Wowza! (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.
In short, when you doodle you:
- Enjoy a powerful form of emotional expression
- Bring your ideas to life
- Improve your perception of yourself
- Boost your mood
- Reduce stress and increase feelings of satisfaction
- Become more focused
- Retain more information
That’s one giant list of awesome, right?!
3. Make Time To Play
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. (source)
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. In a group or solo, there’s a ton to gain!
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?
Here’s a quick look at what playing has in store for your health:
- Reduces Stress
- Creates a sense of well-being
- Strengthens relationships
- Stimulates our imagination
- Encourages creativity and problem solving
And that’s just in general! Whatever playful activities you choose to indulge in will add their own health benefits to the list. It’s all win baby!
4. Take a Nap
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 they don’t taste gross – total coffee hater over here haha)
The goodness doesn’t end there either! 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. Yahoo!
A bad night sleep can ramp up stress levels 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. But 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. No thank you! (source)
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 a little summary of what a nap has in store for your health?
- Lowers stress
- Boosts creativity
- Improves memory and productivity
- Helps you learn
- Reduces the risk of heart disease
- Supports your immune health
Need Help Adding Stress Relieving Activities to Your Routine?
I hope these ideas give you some fun, relaxing and easy options for go-to stress relieving activities.
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. Counselors 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 best for you.
It’s always ok to find a shoulder to lean on when you need it.
And if you want to work a little more self-care into your schedule I’ve got you covered with a free, printable self-care planner. Click the image below or download it here to get started.
Your turn: What stress relieving activities work best for you?0 Are there any of these you do on the regular? Which one are you most excited to try? Looking forward to hearing your lovely thoughts!
Health and love,
Thought of the day: You are never too old to relax.
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