According to a list—that of course I found when doing a search (the irony is not lost)—"How to get rid of stress" was one of the top searched phrases in 2021. If you're like me, coming out of 2020, you might have thought that 2021 has to be better. I am determined to welcome 2022 with a great deal more optimism than I had going into 2021. After all, it's what is ahead that matters. Of course, a lot of it comes down to how we look at each moment, and what we do in those moments to turn a tough day, week, month, or year into something positive.
From a book lover's perspective, all one has to do to feel better is read more books. Simple thinking, to be sure, but true. There are many ways to reduce stress that don't involve spending a lot of money (or any money) or spending hours searching the internet every time our anxiety levels take a jump.
These are my 5 Surefire Ways to Smile More, and in the process, reduce stress. It helps to incorporate them into daily life, and hopefully combat stress before it has a chance to overwhelm.
Time in Nature
"Any question you ever have, the answer you will find in nature." Those who have seen The Power of One should recognize that line, and it has always been one of my favorites. Nature holds within all its wonders and beauty the answers to life questions, the calm to everyday stress, and the power of hope within every drop of water, rustle of leaves, and burst of sunshine. The secret? One must listen to what Nature is trying to tell us. Walking in a park, hiking a mountain, or planting flowers . . . the possibilities to commune with nature are vast.
We book lovers already know that reading can cure what ails us. When we need an escape from the world, are stuck in bed with an illness, or have a yen to travel afar from the comfort of home, reading can take us on any adventure we could ever imagine. Don't just take my word for it. Science, and those super smart scientists behind science, have said more than once that reading is good for the mind.
Learning Something New
Whether you want to cook, draw, ski, or climb Everest, learning a new skill keeps the mind busy, endorphins up, and can combat stress. It is tough for stress to take hold of our minds when they are busy with far more productive tasks.
Baking (or Whatever Pastime You Enjoy)
This one can go hand-in-hand with "Learn Something New." While it's always nice to add to our arsenal of skills, it is also relaxing to do what we already enjoy. For me, that is usually baking a favorite treat or trying out a new recipe. The familiararity of measuring ingredients, kneading dough, or listening to the mixer's whirring clears my mind. Do you love putting together puzzles? How about knitting, sewing, or woodworking? Whatever you enjoy, turn to it as a productive and positive way to combat times of stress.
Doing Good Deeds
Stress can stem from one or more of a dozen (or ten dozen) of things, and none of them pleasant. Performing a good deed or act of kindness for someone else is one of the absolute best ways, in my opinion, to combat stress. When one thinks of someone else, and couples that with a kind act, one usually becomes more grateful for all they have, and whatever caused the stress is often minimized in comparison to what someone else is going through. In the process of helping others, we have the chance to lessen the burden of another, bring a smile to their face, or share what we may have more of than them. Killing stress through kindness . . . doesn't get better than that.
Keeping a journal, meditation, yoga, decorating, writing, singing, and so much more could have been added to the list, but if I kept going with every single thing that helps with stress, it would be longer than a Google search list.
Be well, friends, and never stop believing in what you can do to help make the world a better place.
Disclaimer: I am a writer, not a medical or mental health professional, and the thoughts in this post are my opinions, not professional advice.