Rollercoaster. Â Hamster wheel. Â Spin cycle. Â Juggling act.
There are days when my life feels like all of the above. Â Those are the days when one of the boys is sick, when eighty student essays are suddenly added to my already hefty grading pile, when the house is an extreme obstacle course of scattered toys and Â I can’t locate a single pair of pants for the boys that don’t have huge rips in the knees and I myself have absolutely no clean underwear in my drawer other than the Â psychologically damaging pair that I last wore when I was postpartum and couldn’t fit into anything else. Â And I just want to leave it all behind and go on retreat for about a month, somewhere where there is silence and no toys or papers and lots of very clean laundry.
A retreat not being practical, though, I have found a few other things that help take the teeth out of my stress. Â I’ll share them here, in case they work for you, too.
1. Â Tea. Â Something about the little ritual of the singing kettle, the steam, the fragrance, the enforced slowness of it all, really helps me unwind. Â And it’s so very cozy, holding a hot mug in my hand.
2. Â Listening to a song by a really really good singer. Â I’ve thought long and hard about this, and I think this works as a stress relief because it makes me think subconsciously about the source of that talent … and that makes the listening itself a sort of prayer. Â One such go-to singer these days is KD Lang, whose voice never ceases to astonish me. Â If you can get your hands on her version of the Roy Orbison classic “Crying,” or on her epic version of the song “Hallelujah,” you’ ll know what I mean. Â Brilliant.
3. Â Burying my face in the branches of the Christmas tree and inhaling deeply. Â At other times of year, I’ll get the same effect from the lavender plant in the front yard.
4. Â Hugs and kisses from my boys. Â Those guys generate a great deal of mess and noise, but when I hug their little bodies, it’s like getting a shot of well-being right into the bloodstream.
5. Â Imagining Jesus putting his hands on my head. Â I’m not quite sure how this started for me; I think it was a few years back, when I was going through a bout of anxiety, and I somehow had this image of Christ gently pressing his hands on my totally unquiet and cluttered head, and it made me slow down and breathe. Â I pull this image out of my pocket now and then, at times when I seem to be in some unhealthy mental spin, and it really does help.
That’s me, anyhow. Â What works for you? Â Do you have any instant stress relief strategies to share? Â I’d love to pick up a few more.