Sunday, February 2, 2014

how i relax and de-stress

I'm going to delve into some real talk right now, mostly because this is something that I need to remind myself of constantly: relax. Anyone who is working on graduate studies can tell you that things can get hella stressful, hella fast. As I've mentioned before, moving from a semester system to the quarter system has done a number on my stress level, but I have discovered a few good tricks that get me to chill when I need to. Some of these are obvious (yet I still manage to forget them), and some of these are things that will maybe only work for me - but since I have a tendency to forget things, I better write these things down!

human contact // whenever I'm stressed I tend to turn inwards and keep to myself. Part of this is also due to the fact that I'm pretty introverted so when I feel drained, my default mode is to lock-down. There was one point during last term during which I was so stressed that I basically shut myself in for the week - the only time I interacted with people was during class. My boyfriend came to visit after that time (he's doing grad work in another state, sadly) and gave me a lot of crap about losing my ability to speak, which was actually true. Once you lose your ability to speak coherently, you realize your approach is probably not the best. So I started to reach out to my good friends in my program, inviting them to hang out, get tea/goodies, and lo-and-behold I felt more relaxed! Even though I have class with one of my bffs, we try to get weekly get-togethers with our other friend so we can all laugh/vent/whatever and just have a good break from the academic rigors of our program. Ever since I've made more effort to see the people I know will leave me with a huge smile on my face, I feel less stressed. Funny how that works.

knitting // really any type of hobby can stand in for knitting, but for me the most relaxing thing I can do is sit down, put on a short podcast/tv show and just knit. My favorite thing about knitting, besides falling into a rhythm that eases any mental tension, is the fact that though you may be relaxing YOU ACTUALLY PRODUCE SOMETHING! Especially since this winter has been historically cold, I get to wear my creations all the time - I am partial to textured cowls in particular so in the past month I have made two: one of wool (for the days that are -10) and one of acrylic yarn (for the slightly less cold days). My favorite sites for great patterns are Ravelry and Purl Bee Soho - between these two sites you'll be able to find any type of project you could desire!

Some of my previous knitting-to-destress projects

listening to podcasts, radio shows or audiobooks // I like to listen to podcasts/audiobooks during the day as a way to get my mind off work, but I also like listening to them if I'm having problems falling asleep. I don't know why but I cannot listen to music when I fall asleep, but for some reason as soon as I put on an audio book or a podcast I fall asleep fairly quickly. My go-to audiobook has been the same for the past four years: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy read by Stephen Fry. But a close second has to be any of the Jeeves and Wooster audiobooks. Once in a while I put on a standup album and that sends me off to sleep, as well. For comedy I usually listen to Jim Gaffigan, which I did last night, actually (Mr. Universe). A friend of mine recently suggested listening to The Dead Authors podcast and I cannot believe that it took me so long to listen to them! My favorite has to be 'Chapter 19: The Authors of the Gospels' which had me in stitches the whole time. I also love listening to BBC radio programs; my favorite at the moment is The Unbelievable Truth presented by David Mitchell - Season 12 Episode 3 is one of my favorites!

candles // for some reason candles immediately set the mood from stress to chill. I am addicted to Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Candles - Lavender is my all time favorite but I also have Geranium. What I like about these candles is the fact that they are made out of organic soy and they also kick off a lot of scent - I will say that, as the name suggests, the smell is really 'clean' and not too perfumey, which is something I really like.

painting my nails // I switch up my nail polish either every week or every two weeks depending how much time I have - mostly because there is something very therapeutic about painting my nails. I have no idea why, but I always feel relaxed afterward. Unless I smudge my still-wet nails by accident.

food // Okay, this is something that I can't help but put on the list. I am definitely an emotional eater; if I'm happy I'll eat to celebrate, if I'm stressed I'll still eat. However, I have learned that cooking a meal from scratch is something that takes your mind off any stress, and you feel like you've accomplished something! Plus you get to eat what you've created.

These are just a few things that work for me, but if anyone has any other good de-stressing tips, I am all ears!

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