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Stress busters

We all have stress at one time or another to some degree. These are times when we are challenged and find the most growth. That's the only positive side, because stress is bad for health. It interferes with sleep. It reduces immunity. It interferes with digestion. It increases cortisol, which makes it hard to lose weight. It makes depression and anxiety worse. It decreases healthy neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. It puts strain on the heart. It increases the likelihood for diabetes.

Covid increased stress for everyone. For me, it was a time of prolonged solitude and an interrupted social life. I managed because I have children and my grandchildren were coming along at that same time. I was lucky that I was able to see all of them, which was partly planned as I was considered safe as a result of my otherwise isolated life. I was also accompanied by the voices in my head of the one hundred single people I interviewed prior to writing Blissfully Single. During Covid, I was deep into editing the book and those voices were like my posse. They were my assistants in the goal to bring more joy into other people's lives. I was not entirely alone in my writing project.

One thing about being at home a lot, is that you have control of your environment. And creating an environment that reduces stress is an achievable goal.

Approaching stress reduction by using five senses is undoubtedly a good physical approach to a physically harmful, but normal reaction.

For the sense of sight, I can build a small flowing fountain, a water feature using a small aquarium pump, a big bowl, interesting rocks or pottery or glass. Or I can set up an aquarium, an underwater alternate universe that is soothing to watch. I can light a candle or watch a lava lamp slowly release its colors. I can look at seascapes, like virtual art galleries, or create my own art with peaceful themes. Keeping the light lowered induces calmness. Going outside to star gaze or look at the Moon can be very peaceful. Watching nature like birds at a feeder can focus attention on the present.

For sound, I can listen to podcasts or television or You Tube videos and take classes over zoom for another source of social interaction. I can also sit quietly and listen to meditative music. It can be any genre. As long as the beat is slower than your heart rate, it will be calming Some people like to listen to the sounds of water from raindrops, or ocean surf, or bubbling brooks. Bird song or jungle sounds may be a little more exotic and interesting at times.

For taste, I can sip on herbal teas, peach, chamomile, ginger/lemon, lavender. There are many to try.

For smell, I can use lavender or look into essential oils that promote calmness. I can use a diffuser or a candle or heat drops of oil in water in a pan on the stove. Sage sticks are known to be cleansing. Many people enjoy different types of incense burning.

These all promote mindfulness activities that reduce anxiety and can be very calming.

If you have other ideas for manipulating your environment to create a peaceful ambience, please leave them in the comments to share with us all..

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