A few years ago, before I put distance between me and stress, two things happened: the stress boiled over and already strained relationships; and I discovered running.
Well, actually I became a runner months before; it was the RELIEF in running that I discovered.
It was unbelievable! Between lacing up my sneaks (unable to think clearly, frustrated, irritated, pissed off) and an hour later (sweaty, thirsty, knee aching a bit but CALM), I experienced a total attitude adjustment!
Have you ever felt a major relief from stress just by doing something you love?
My outlook on my stress, my ability to now think clearly and make decisions was such a surprise to me the first time it happened, I thought it was just a fluke.
But every time I came back from a run – whether it was three miles or 10 – I felt relief. I felt calmer. It didn’t take away my stress, but it lessened how my body reacted to it and helped me to deal with it in a more productive way.
Running became my outlet.
How about you?
WHAT’S YOUR OUTLET?
What activity or activities mellow your mood? What habits have you created to help you handle stress better; calm your anger; work out your frustrations; move past your irritations? Don’t think it’s important? Of course it is.
In relation to exercise, research studies have shown that aerobic exercise has a direct effect on improving your mood. I can definitely vouch for that. (Refer to previous paragraphs)
I can also vouch for any claims that regardless of what activity you choose to do: gardening, hitting a punching bag, collecting stamps, refurbishing boats, antiquing, or a host of other activities, if it offers a sense of relief AND enjoyment, it will definitely improve your mood.
Your outlet is your choice.
And there’s no time like the present!
Let’s look at a few outlets and their benefits that have proven effective for me. Perhaps they might spark an idea for your own attitude adjusters.
RUNNING – There’s no bs-ing that “runner’s high” claim. I can’t speak on running enough but that’s because I love running! I love the mental and physical challenge – it’s not always easy to get my runner’s mind to encourage my 50-plus body to cooperate. 🙂 But getting sweaty and breathless helps distract me from whatever anger, irritation, frustration or blah moment I might be having. I feel the same about weightlifting, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), and step aerobics. Pushing my body hard (but safe) is what my mind NEEDS in intense moments to keep me from thinking about anything except getting through the workout.
YOGA – Yoga is a quieter but still effective outlet for me. It’s the meditative breathing. My yoga practice is calming and transforming – helping me to find my center; the place in me that thinks before responding; remembers to breathe when staring hostility in the face – not always easy tasks for my quirky and sometimes explosive Aquarian personality. But when I carry my practice on the mat out into the world, I notice a significant change in my own mindset. Read that again: MY OWN mindset. I’m not practicing to change other’s actions; I’m practicing to change my response.
ART – I consider any creative project a form of art: painting, drawing, writing, crocheting, knitting, cooking, sewing, and the list goes on. And I consider art a major mood-mellowing outlet. It’s not my first choice when my mind is in a major frazzled state. I need to calm down first and intense physical plus breathing exercises do that. Art takes me further into a zen state to maintain that calm. Now I will say that crocheting – because of the repetitive actions of making the same stitches over and over got me through a number of frustrating nights when I worked as a private duty nursing assistant. It’s that busy hands thing. 🙂 When my hands are busy, my mind goes on automatic – thinking (instead of talking) it all out and then putting the solutions in little categories for me to deal with later.
Have any of these outlets worked for you?
If not, let me know in the comments what hobbies/workouts/creative moments/ do work for you ok?
Here’s to our mental health!