How to combat stress and anxiety the fun way

Your life is stressful -

  • You worry about the future and ruminate on the past.
  • It feels like it’s been going on for a long time.
  • You don’t know how it started or maybe you do (bad period at work, anxious parental role models). It might be one thing or ten things.
  • You might be frustrated with yourself for stressing over tiny inconsequential things.
  • You’re fed up of it and want rid of this stress and anxiety
  • Where do you start?

Start where you are

For whatever reason, known or unknown you feel like you’re crumbling under the weight of stress and anxiety. There might be things you can do to get some of those stressors out of your life (change job, make amends with someone) but while you’re feeling this way those tasks can feel like rolling a stone up hill. First thing’s first, you need to relax.

The natural antidote to stress

Relaxation is the natural antidote to stress and anxiety. Try feeling anxious and relaxed at the same time and you’ll see what I mean. It might feel frivolous to take time out to have fun and relax when you’ve got so much going on but it really does help. Even if you don’t feel like it give it a go.

Whether it’s fly fishing, reading a book or phoning a friend for a chat, find what you like and do more of it. Do the things that absorb your attention and take your mind to a more pleasant place. Maybe there’s an old hobby you’ve always meant to pick up again or there’s something new you’ve always wanted to try.

Man painting

You might not feel like doing these things at first and it might take you a couple of goes to get into it but you’ll notice the benefits. If you don’t know what to choose look for something that’s completely different from your day job.

It doesn’t have to be low energy, in fact exercise is great for combating stress. You could try hiking or trampolining. You could even decide to learn an instrument or a new language. Try one thing, change your mind if you like and try something else.

Finding the time to relax

If you’re struggling to find the time before or after work is there something you can do at lunchtime or during your commute? Making a point to get together with colleagues for lunch and chat about stuff not related to work. Have a lunchtime walk around the park or around the block while you call a friend.

Read a book on the train or listen to a language download. You don’t have to have an hour or two to spare, 10 minutes here and there can make a big impact. I love reading articles on the train, it’s the main opportunity I get to learn.

The point is to find what you enjoy and do more of it. Something you can engage in fully and give your mind a rest from chewing over the usual daily grind. Painting mandalas on rocks or doing aerial yoga, it doesn’t matter. By engaging in something fun and absorbing you’re giving your mind a rest.

When you’re relaxed more of the time the parts of life you find stressful gradually feel smaller. And once they’re down to a manageable size you can look at doing something about them. You might even find they resolve on their own when you’re more relaxed about them.