After a few weeks of discussing sleep habits and identifying our daily stressors, I wanted to give one last little tidbit. In this final installment to my mental health series, I wanted to provide a few strategies for coping with stress. While some coping strategies can be tactile, like going to the gym and lifting heavy weights, the most effective strategies are either auditory or visual.
These are things that you can hear that can be considered calming.
- Podcasts- There is this lady out on YouTube who folds towels (stick with me here). She calls her station “Gentle Whispering ASMR.” ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response, and is defined as a tingling sensation due to a sensory stimuli. So, she broadcasts herself speaking in soft vocal tones whilst doing the laundry. For a lot of people, it actually works! For me not so much (although you should check it out and tell me what you think). I am unfortunately not well versed in podcasts; I have tried several and failed to enjoy them. But if you find something noteworthy, pass the word on!
- Music- My favorite Pandora channel is called “Chill Out Radio.” I love it because it’s super mellow. The songs have just enough of a beat to keep me interested, and lack words from a vocalist that I feel like I have to focus on (don’t get me wrong, screamo music is also stress relieving, but under different circumstances). This is something quick and easy that I can plug into my car stereo (as I spend more time in my car than anywhere else these days) and listen to throughout my day.
- Nature Sounds- Ocean waves are the best because who doesn’t like the beach? This ties into my first visual strategy listed below. Let’s take ocean waves for example. How hard is it to close your eyes, listen to ocean waves, and NOT picture yourself on some beautiful, white-sand beach in the sun with an umbrella drink in your hand? Because that’s the very opposite of stressful.
These are things that you can see that can be considered calming.
- Imagery- This is a bit of a psychology trick, but it is very effective. Like in my explanation above, the goal of imagery is to extract yourself from negative energy and stress and re-insert yourself into a positive and stress-free (albeit made up) environment. But that’s just the point, to visualize yourself in a situation that provides calmness.
- Writing- If I am not working or working out, it’s probably safe to assume that I’m writing. As a visual strategy, I would recommend creating something handwritten. This can be something short, like a poem, or something continuous, like writing the same sentence over and over again. For me, focusing on the way I make certain lines and curves in my letters is soothing. Warning, if you have terrible handwriting, this strategy may be counter-effective.
- Coloring- This is probably the more fun of the strategies. While coloring mandalas can be quite tedious, it’s one of those things that really provides quiet time. Focusing on where lines start and end, and what colors should go in what lines, can easily take you out of a stressful environment and put you into a zone of calm.
I know I’ve covered a lot over the last few weeks, and believe it or not, I still spend every day of my life trying to conquer this mental health thing. But little by little, I find that I’m figuring things out. The best advice I can give? Keep on keepin’ on,