Stress is a life sucking state. It leads to obesity, illness, and exhaustion physically, but it can also take the joy out of the activities you love to do. Not only that, but you might have found that chronic stress has sapped you of your ability to be creative, to think out of the box. Which might just add to your stress all the more, since you’re less able to innovate at work.
So if you need to defeat the stress monster and train your brain to be more creative again, you might want to try these activities:
1. Keep a diary.
Can’t rant and rage to your officemates? Don’t want to spread the nega to your friends or significant other? Pour it all out into the pages of a journal or diary. Once you’ve vented your rage on the pages of your journal, you might just find that there’s something to be learned. Once in a while, reread your entries and see if there are any patterns of bad behavior you might be able to do away with, as well as good things you do that you might want to perpetuate.
2. Doodle, paint, or sketch.
You don’t have to be a good artist to reap the benefits of indulging in an art attack. If you’re at work, just take a scrap of paper and start doodling. Or if you’re more into painting, you can pick up a set of watercolors and make something more vibrant. You can sketch people in your life or scenes from your favorite books or movies or just about anything. Letting your brain focus on more artistic endeavors will help ease the part of it that’s bored or stressed out by the routines and left-brain tasks required by your work.
3. Cook a meal.
You might think that the last thing you want to do at the end of a long work day is slave over a hot stove, but there’s something calming about the process of measuring out ingredients and mixing them together. It will also help you clear your mind of work, and if you have a partner to share your culinary tasks with, all the better, as cooking time will turn into bonding time. Plus, when the delicious aromas start to fill your kitchen and you finally get to sit down to a yummy meal you prepared yourself, you might just find the effort has eased any stress you came home with. Not sure what to cook? You might want to check out our list of batch cooking recipes as well as healthy salmon dishes.
4. Write a story.
Have someone you can’t stand? Why not murder him or her—on paper? Write a short story representative of your feelings of stress, anger, exhaustion, and so forth, then indulge in a happy ending. It doesn’t have to make sense; it just has to make you feel better. And if it does make sense, well, you could be looking at a way to earn extra income by submitting your stories to journals and websites or entering contests with them.
Find a quiet spot to clear your mind and dream about where you would want to go and what you would do there, if you could only get away from it all. Dream about the hot guy who might give you a back rub to ease your stress (and if he has David Gandy’s face, no one has to know but you). Dream about what you would be doing with your life if money was no object. Just focus on happy thoughts and visuals, and you’ll find that just five or ten minutes might just do the trick and refresh your mind.
6. Work with your hands.
Have a garden you can design or tend? Or maybe you know how to crochet or knit, but just haven’t done it in a while. Maybe you are adept at quilting or cross stitching or you know how to make your own clothes. Don’t underestimate the soothing effects of these activities, many of which you can do while watching TV or having a comfortable conversation with family or friends. In fact, why not get them in on the action too? And if you’re crafty, this is yet another thing you can turn into a potential side business.
7. Read a novel.
Take yourself out of your here and now and transport yourself to another life, another place, even another world, with the help of a book. Not only will reading afford you some quiet time, but if you allow a story to engage your mind, it will stay off the things that stress you out, like the fight you had with your guy, the annoying officemate, your terror boss, the piles of work you have to do, and so on.
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Liana Smith Bautista is an article writer, web content manager, manuscript copy editor, and blogger—and she thinks it's awesome that she earns her living marketing on her love for the written word.