What are some good methods for relaxation when you have anxiety and depression? Several articles, books and blog posts have been written on the subject, each with their different views on relaxation methods for those troubled in heart and mind. Studies have been done, certain diets prescribed, and I sometimes get the feeling that what people want is a one-size-fits-all solution to their stresses.
There isn’t one. No stress relieving exercise is going to be perfect for everyone. Eating or avoiding certain foods isn’t going to work for everyone. The only “everyone” factor to stress is that everyone has it. So how can you reduce your stress levels?
I don’t have the answer for you, but I can tell you what relaxes me and why. How can this possibly help you in your struggles, you ask? Well, when you’re trying to figure out what relaxes you, the best thing to do is to think about what has helped you in the past, and not only that, but to see what other people are doing to try different methods you haven’t tried before. I’m only one window into discovery for stress relief (wow, that sounds pretentious, but I hope you know what I mean). Check out what other people are doing. Follow blogs that focus on stress relief. Look up some Youtube videos. Google “stress relief.” There are a million different methods out there, and the only way to find out if they work for you is to try them!
I’m not going to lay out all my stress relief techniques in one post, mostly because I’m trying new things, and I haven’t quite figured out if they help yet. I prefer the time-tested methods I know work for me, and I don’t like sharing them until they become such. But here’s a couple that really help to chill me out.
This may sound weird to a lot of people, but drinking coffee puts me in a state of peace I find hard to describe. There’s nothing more comforting than sitting down with a nice cup of java, lightly laced with cream and sugar, and taking that first, invigorating sip.
But what about the caffeine? Doesn’t that aggravate your anxiety and make you jumpy? If you drink too much, it does. I tend to drink coffee in much greater moderation than I did years ago. My stomach just can’t handle large amounts of acidic foods and drinks, and this includes alcohol (which I will never include on this list because it’s a depressive and doesn’t really relieve stress). However, it’s not the coffee itself that calms me down. It’s the act of drinking coffee. Let me explain.
Coffee has always been a part of my daily life, starting from when I was really young. My Papaw (that’s southern for ‘Grandpa’) introduced me to it at the tender age of seven months. Before you start freaking out, it was only a teaspoon at a time. This was southern tradition for all the kids, and it continued on with my brother and sister, having no ill effects on any of us. My whole family consists of coffee drinkers (except for my mom and sister; we think they may have been adopted), including my dad’s side. Every time I would go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, they would make coffee. I was always sure to have a cup. So, there’s a lot of nostalgia in sipping coffee for me. It brings back family memories and warm conversation. It’s the drink of choice that my family and I connected over.
You’ve all seen a yoga class or two. Maybe you were in one, or maybe you saw one on TV or through the studio’s window. You’ve seen the grace and flexibility that sometimes surpasses the skill of a prima ballerina, figures bowing over, flipping their legs over their ears like it’s as effortless as tossing a towel over their shoulder.
I am NONE of those people.
I’m the one doing warrior pose (I don’t even know how many there are) with shaky knees and that drunk girl waver, which usually results in me toppling over like a dork. I’m not good at yoga, but that’s okay. You don’t have to be good at something that relaxes you. I suffer from bad back, neck and foot pain. I even have special shoes called ZCoils for long days at work or when I’m going to be walking around a lot, so comfort and relief for me are of great importance. My mother was actually the one who suggested yoga as a pain relief exercise. So we bought a couple of yoga DVDs, a couple mats, and we started our first session thinking it would be easy.
UM, NO. It’s not easy. The first session kicked my tiny little butt, but WOW, did it feel good to stretch those muscles! I could feel deep down in my muscles how stiff and inflexible they were. Several joints popped during the process, and I fell over several times (I have balance issues), but it was fun! For someone who has trouble doing regular exercise routines because I weigh so little, I felt like, “Hey, this is something I can do! AND I feel less stressed already!”
I generally stick to the AM/PM yoga DVD, which has two routines: 1) for the morning, to energize you, and 2) for nighttime, to help you sleep. Once I build up my muscle strength, I’m going to try the other DVD which has a special stress relief session. The only thing keeping me from doing it now is that the instructor is FAST. I barely have time to do the first pose before he’s on to the fourth one. That’s the rotten thing about at-home DVDs: you can’t tell the instructor to slow down! I just don’t have the money to go to a yoga instructor, even though there’s one only half a block down from my house. I could literally walk there in less than 30 seconds.
Ah, that feeling you get when every muscle has been stretched and all that tension leaves your body. You just feel better afterwards. I’m not a fan of the spiritualism that accompanies yoga; I’m a Bible-believing Christian, and Eastern mysticism or buddhism (I’m not sure what yoga identifies with exactly) is not something I want to include in my life, especially not my exercise routine. I tend to ignore any of the unwanted spiritual elements and just think of how grateful I am to God that he’s helped me to find something that alleviates my stress and pain.
Once again, these methods aren’t for everyone. These are just a couple I want to share with you in case either of these helps anyone. As far as the coffee, it can be any drink that creates a calming sensation or makes you comfortable, whether it’s coffee, tea, warm milk or just plain water. It can be a food that brings back wholesome memories of when your grandmother used to make it for you, or a snack you’d eat on cold, wintery nights while you were snuggled in a pile of blankets by the fire. A word of warning though: anyone with an eating disorder should avoid this method, as it could cause further problems, especially those who tend to overeat because they find so much comfort and calm in food that they eat too much, which leads to health problems.
Yoga is something anyone and everyone can do. There are many yoga programs out there, anywhere from yoga for pain relief and strength building to yoga for children and seniors. If you want to find a yoga routine that’s good for you, head on over the The Happy Depressive, run by the lovely Miss Brianna. She’ll let you know what’s the right yoga routine for you!
I’ll be posting more on relaxation methods in this blog in the near future. I hope this has helped you to get some ideas to help you relax. If you would like to suggest a relaxation method, or just an activity you enjoy that relaxes you, please leave it in the comments section! I’d be happy to hear from you!