There are many ways to unwind and relax -- taking part in sports or exercise is a great choice, meditation can help combat anxiety, and simply spending time with those who make you the happiest can help you let go of stress.
But if sitting in the lotus position isn't quite your cup of tea, and getting sweaty away at the gym doesn't appeal, sometimes the best way to release worry and tension, is to do something that will simply let you see the physical manifestation of what you've created. In other words, an activity that allows you to witness the results of your efforts and track your progress.
You might say to yourself, "I’m not creative at all – I can’t do anything like that", but you might surprise yourself. To some, the idea of being creative revolves around the image of writing lines of poetry or holding a painting on a canvas. Of course, these are good examples of being artistic and expressing emotions, but they aren’t the only ways. There are methods of being expressive and creative that you may not have thought of, yet can still help you to get things off your chest in a positive way.
Venting, as the name implies, is all about releasing pent up emotions. As is sometimes all too apparent, for many people social media has become the first port of call to vent frustrations and share feelings across their network of friends, both positive and negative. The problem with social media, though, is that its immediacy can result in public statements that we may regret. Blogging, on the other hand, is much more considered and can bridge the gap between friend and stranger, encouraging a more considered level of communication and offering the chance to build ties with people who have similar experiences, which in turn can challenge feelings of isolation.
Starting out on your own blog adventure isn’t actually that difficult, and once you start uploading blog posts, it essentially works as an online diary. Writing down your thoughts and feelings is hugely beneficial for your mental health; sharing them on an online platform and social media might seem daunting at first, but the more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll feel having people read your words. The idea is for people – no matter if they’re strangers or acquaintances – to empathise with your experiences. Once you share, you’ll be surprised how many people go through similar struggles.
Yes, it might seem very odd at first to suggest picking up a colouring book (something you probably haven’t done since you were five), but be open to the idea. Many people staunchly believe in the concept of colouring books for adults, as they simply allow someone to empty their mind of all thoughts and focus on nothing but the image; somewhat akin to meditation, only more hands-on. Plus, after you’ve completed the drawing, you’ll have something quite beautiful to show for it. Check out these colouring books and see for yourself.
Music and Photography
These might be hobbies you dabbled with as a kid but never really pursued them fully. Perhaps you became bored or didn’t have the time anymore, but now could be the moment to revitalise one or both of these interests. The goal doesn’t have to be anything more than playing for your own enjoyment, or to work towards a set goal simply for the sake of personal accomplishment. Making space for "me time" is what’s important. No one expects you to be Jimmy Page as soon as you pick up a guitar, nor will they expect you to best Ansel Adams after taking your first photograph. Music and photography help you shut off your thoughts for a while, and let you focus on creating something that you believe is good, no matter what anyone else thinks.
Finally, the thought of cooking may well bring up images of Gordon Ramsey yelling at you for overcooking the salmon on Hell’s Kitchen, but in reality, cooking is far more relaxing than this. Like everything on this list, the idea of cooking is grounded in having something to show for your effort at the end of it all. You get the advantage of doing something that takes your mind off matters, you learn new skills, and then you’ve (hopefully) got something tasty after the effort. Jamie Oliver’s cookbooks and YouTube series allow beginners to get to grips with cooking, and he’s far more chilled out than Ramsey, that’s for sure.
Image: Flickr/13Moya Photography