In many people’s lives they can really back one thing they believe in, whether it be gender equality, racial justice, bullying or something as light as 30-hour work weeks (hurray!). For me, I believe in mental health. I think many issues in the United States of America are pushed under the “crazy” categorization when really it’s in its roots, a mental health issue. Without getting too deep into the mental health issue, these next bullets are how I stay mentally healthy by limiting and managing stress and why I believe they work.
With no doubt (music pun) in my mind everyone finds stress relief with music whether they know it or not. As I am writing this listicle, I am listening to purposeful music to help me focus. The music I listen to for stress relief is hard to slap a genre on but here’s a try: Trance/Ambient/mello-electronica (really easy to remember). I don’t like a lot of words/lyrics in the music I use to calm me. I use the music to take me out of the world or even to a specific location. Throughout four years I have compiled a playlist of all the songs and sounds I find to get me to that place. The list is loaded with the likes of Tycho, Crystal Castles and Emancipator.
I believe (no idea if there is science to back it) that associating myself with a certain color when a specific feeling is desired helps me feel that way. For example, I think the color purple helps me feel mentally unburdened and stress free. Whenever I try to calm myself I use purple lights to create an ambient environment for my head. My Tumblr is decorated with many posts using this glow, or ambience. I follow many blogs dedicated to the exact thing. Every time I turn those lights on, I know it’s time to relax.
Meditation can be what a person wants it to be, in my opinion. What I mean by that rudimentary sentence is that meditation is not limited to guided, or breathe awareness exercises. My meditation is a combination of points above. To feel fully aware of myself on this earth and to completely be in the moment, I use my lights, listen to my playlist and many times burn incense. I need to constantly remind my brain why these element are being presented and it now is automatic to the feeling I am trying to achieve. I believe in my meditation I have almost every sense stimulated (except taste) in a manner that I know gets me where I need to be. I encourage everyone to try many techniques, each person is different and reach awareness differently, that’s the beauty of meditation!
I have always been an athlete but the beauty of exercise is that anyone can do it no matter your athleticism. Ever since I ended my competitive sports career I have focused on lifting weights and bettering my running times. In doing so I found that nothing else matters to me in those moments. In the eight months of my consistent exercise I found that adding weights I can lift, cutting down seconds on my running times and seeing results stimulate my mind in a very specific way. While it is difficult to pinpoint the epicenter of this feeling, I think that it’s possibly because I get to focus on my body and my health solely for that hour or two, there’s something beautiful in that. A bi-product of the focus on my health and exercise is the awareness of my diet. I have been able to focus on what my body needs not only physically but nutritionally.
While probably hyper-specific to me, I find riding very soothing. Funny enough I don’t like listening to music while riding. The sounds, sights and monotony of my wheels hitting the cracks in the sidewalk makes for a nice break from this crazy world. Don’t worry I can’t do any tricks at all besides acting like when I fell down it didn’t hurt. Not too much skill required to longboard, try it out!
Honorable Mention/Guilty Pleasure: Wine:
While I don’t condone alcohol consumption as a stress relief technique, it would be unfair to say that I don’t use it. Cabernet Sauvignon is my poison and although alcohol has some seriously detrimental effects, red wine has some benefits (AKA resveratrol- look it up!).