Recent world events have escalated stress levels across the great divide of personal opinion and viewpoint. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the big picture. So, how do we confront conflicting ideas and problematic personalities? How can we manage stress levels hitting new highs on our internal stress-o-meter?
Consider the strategies of creative strength training. The stamina built by implementing these five simple strategies soothes stress, encourages fun, nourishes your inner child, and leads to a happier state of mind.
1. Play with paint or bright-colored markers.
Even people who reject the idea of being artistic have an inherent ability to create. If your mind resists, trick it. Give yourself permission to play, but only for an hour. (You’ll want to keep going!)
Still hitting resistance? Close your eyes. Imagine the happiest times of your childhood. Most often, those are memories of playing, in the dirt, on a bike, with coloring books or games. Need further convincing? Suspend judgment. Just try it. And BTW, adult coloring books are all the rage for a reason. Coloring is meditative. But that doesn't mean you have to have a book to start expressing your inner Vvan Gogh. Just start slapping paint on paper. See what happens. If that’s too scary, try finger-painting. It’s a blast. Buy a set any place that sells toys.
You know what it means at the gym. Apply it to trying something new. If you started with painting, now try writing a poem. Look up how to write a haiku online. It’s easy and there are thousands of examples! The main thing is to reject self-consciousness! For once, let it be all about you.
3. Engage your inner rebel.
Everyone has one. It’s the hard-wired part of human beings that takes charge, given permission. Rebelliousness is an attribute we associate with teenagers. As adults, we sublimate the rebel, to be perceived as agreeable grownups. But that rebel energy enthusiastically tries on new things for size. It also helps keep us from being guilted into doing things we don’t want to do. You have preferences. Perhaps if you were honoring them, you wouldn’t feel so stressed. Think about it.
4. Dismantle your committee.
Do you see faces or hear voices when you’re stressed or criticized? Those are the people who keep you from succeeding or block your enjoyment of success. You might be your own worst critic, but you didn’t arrive on the planet with that mindset. A few people around you, past or present, helped. Sometimes someone WAS mean. But just as often, someone’s on your committee because you want to impress them. Face it. Dismantling the committee is freeing.
5. Write your history.
I teach a class called "Everyone Is Fascinating." It's not a new idea; it's just a reminder. Your life is a timeline of stories. Write a few down. Lists are OK. So are short paragraphs or even a timeline. We’re not going for the Pulitzer here. Can’t think of anything to write? Make a list of the crazy, sweet, odd parts of yourself. Writing reminds you who you are. You can feel good about it and maybe even accept yourself a little more. You've heard the saying, "Know thyself." When you know yourself you feel centered. When you’re centered, you can deal better with stress. It can’t knock you out without a fight.
Bottom line? You can’t change the world around you, but you can change how you react to it. And in order to do that, you’ve got to be present. Make time to play, be centered in who you are, and enlist your inner rebel. Dismantle the committee. These small changes can make a big difference.