Five Ways to Relieve Stress
Updated: Mar 31
Hello all! It’s been a while since I last wrote.
My blogging mojo has been AWOL since the start of the year and I’ve not really known what to sit down and write about for you all. I think a lot of us have found the beginning of this year difficult, with the pandemic and lockdowns stretching out of Christmas and into spring, so I’m not being hard on myself for stepping back on this one.
Here in the UK we are just about beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel, with the vaccination programme in full swing and lockdowns starting to ease.
To be honest, it’s a bit of a double-edged sword for me. I can’t wait to see family and friends and meet people for coffee or go and sip a pint in a beer garden (when the sun returns of course) but I’m also apprehensive. I can count the number of times I’ve left the village in the past year on one hand.
I’m a little unsure how I’ll feel about busy shops and crowded events now, especially as I wasn’t mad keen on them in the first place. I am not ready to jump head first back into things as they were as quickly as possible – and thank goodness I don’t have to. I’m very grateful for that.
I promise this is all leading somewhat tenuously to the subject of my maiden 2021 blog…
Returning to pre-plague normality may be a relief for many, but it could also be potentially overwhelming and stressful for some. I’m going to be taking it slowly and making sure I keep my boundaries in place.
Since 1992, April has been recognised as Stress Awareness Month and this year it coincides perfectly with the UK reopening post-plague. As such I’ve brought together five tips on relieving stress and looking after yourself, with a slight arty lean to them of course!
1. Carve Out Hobby Time
Sounds like an easy one for a professional artist, I’m sure! Sadly that’s not always the case as I turned something I love into a business, d'oh! So I also have to ensure I make time to create art just for me.
If you fancy taking a little time out for some easy art, you could check out a range of colouring pages freely available to download and print.
Sitting and colouring in may not sound like much, but it allows you time out to focus on something simple and calm down for a while. Just taking a step back from the noise.
If you’re not a fan of just colouring in and would like a more structured approach to art as a hobby I recommend Letterbox Lessons from Hodgepodge. Tara has created a gorgeous tutorial course providing her step-by-step process of creating a pencil drawing of a Robin. The lesson includes a draw along video, step by step written instructions and all the arty paraphernalia you will need to create your very own Robin! I believe there’s a watercolour letterbox lesson in the works too, so keep an eye out for that!
2. Connection & Laughter
This one has been a little more difficult over the past year but hopefully will be returning with gusto as the summer approaches! Our village pub isn’t reopening until May, so I’m still very much on the meeting friends via zoom journey…
Kitey hosts a virtual gathering three times a week where you can rock up with your crafty hobby of choice and have a chat with like minded souls.
Join them on Tuesdays and Sundays at 2pm, or on a Friday evening with a cocktail! All completely free and very friendly.
3. Write it Down!
Journaling can be great for clearing your head and stopping the ceaseless circles of thoughts from driving you to distraction.
I know journaling sounds a bit grand and intimidating if you’ve not done it before so I’m going to let you in on a secret… It’s just writing stuff down in a notebook. Nothing fancier than that!
Get the thoughts out of your head and on to a page.
Whether it’s following set journaling prompts, art journaling and doodling or just a complete brain dump it can really help.
I try to write Morning Pages each day, as suggested in The Artist’s Way, which is a stream of consciousness type of writing in the mornings. Just to clear my mind ready for the day as I drink a cuppa. I never read it back. Just let it flow out of me (sometimes it’s a fight and doesn’t want to flow to start with) and then move on with my day.
Even if you feel a bit daft to start with, it can really help to work through things that have been niggling at you for a while.
Yes, even going for a walk at lunchtime counts. Move a little bit and get some air.
It’s not necessary to go the full bootcamp, train for an Iron Man, “no pain, no gain” mentality – unless that’s your bag of course, then have at it.
But getting moving does help with those happy brain chemicals. I’ve taken part in RED January for the past few years as many of us find that month hard. While I have never tried to Run Every Day (what madness is that?!), I did get active everyday and the community around the event is very supportive and continues to be so throughout the year. Check out RED Together for more information.
Letting our bodies and minds rest will help lower our stress levels as well as setting us up for the next day.
Covid has seen a rise in sleeping problems and even strange dreams, as discussed on Grayson’s Art Club in March. I have struggled with my sleep for a long time and have tried many ways to improve my slumber.
Having a bedtime routine is great for adults as well as small humans it seems!
Less screen time before we want to sleep, no caffeine late in the day and meditation, or gentle stretching with breathing to help us wind down ready for the duvet.
Even just deciding to go to bed earlier and ditching the Revenge Bedtime Procrastination mindset can be a great first step.
Now, I know most of this sounds like common sense but with lockdown days merging into one and routines evaporating into the aether it’s been easy to let the basics slip away.
As the UK moves towards whatever the future holds I know I’ll need to make time for these five things to help keep me on an even keel and ready to tackle whatever nonsense comes next!
For more information on Stress Awareness Month check out: Stress.org