Stress is something we all live with. For some it’s miniature spurts of stress throughout the day, and for some stress is more chronic and long-lasting. Either way, there are plenty of fun ways to relieve stress.
It should go without saying, but stress is a huge problem in our everyday lives, and fun is a great way to relieve stress!
Fun provides a sense of eustress, which is the good kind of stress that keeps you feeling alive and well. Fun also provides an opportunity to cultivate a positive attitude that can help combat small instances of stress you experience daily.
It is also so easy to cultivate fun. While strategies for stress relief like going to the gym or booking a massage can be difficult and expensive to fit in, fun is something that can be achieved through any number of ways.
Here are five fun stress management activities to try the next time you're feeling stressed out!
1. Adult Coloring Books
Have you heard of the new adult coloring book craze?
Art has a proven healing power, and is used across the world as an alternative therapy for patients facing tough diagnoses like cancer. While adult coloring books may not be considered a full art therapy, yet, they still provide great benefits for those looking to relieve stress in a fun way.
If you haven’t tried adult coloring books yet, they are full of incredibly detailed pictures with a plethora of small spaces making up the larger images. When you color, it helps build focus as you concentrate on staying within the lines of each of the smaller spaces that make up the picture.
Inability to focus is often a symptom of stress, so this form of stress relief creates a fun way to attempt to alleviate the negative effects of stress. Coloring books provide an opportunity to focus only on the picture you are coloring, which in itself is a form of meditation.
In essence, those who color are occupying their mind with thoughts of creating a beautiful pictures, which replaces negative and stressful thoughts they may be having.
DID YOU KNOW?
Early studies on the effects of coloring books have found that adults who color exhibit positive changes in their heart rate and brainwaves.
2. Eat Dark Chocolate
Now this is a personal preference, so if you don’t find eating chocolate fun, I apologize in advance. Maybe you don’t like the taste, or maybe eating just isn’t fun for you. But I love chocolate, any way any day.
Eating dark chocolate is a fun way to relieve stress because it allows you to feel like you’re getting away with one of your favorite foods, while also reaping some of dark chocolate’s health benefits.
The flavanols found in dark chocolate have heart healthy properties that lower blood pressure and cholesterol, while also stabilizing coronary artery health.
During times of stress in our lives, our blood pressure instinctively rises in order to meet our brain’s perceived need of assistance in addressing our stressor. In addition to promoting heart health ahead of our stress response mechanisms, dark chocolate works to lower the stress hormones found in our blood.
In a study of mock stressors, an interview and calculating a math problem in front of an audience, it was found that men who had consumed dark chocolate had lower levels of cortisol and epinephrine in their systems.
While dark chocolate holds powerful health properties, as always, it is important to consume in moderation.
Play is a little ambiguous, and can mean many things to many different people, but is such an important way to relieve stress in a fun way. As children, we most certainly knew the importance of play. Games and make believe scenarios (like pretend the carpet is lava!) help children flex their imaginations in positive ways for intellectual development and growth.
However, as we age we lose our passion for play. Time then gets devoted to homework, college applications, college homework, job applications, and then emails and work-related homework. Play loses its place in our everyday lives, we stop making time for creativity and we make more time for pressure.
Play is a state of mind, and can vary between taking improv classes to taking your dog to the park and engaging in a rousing game of fetch. Play, however, is not something that creates negative feelings of competition and additional stress in your life.
Play reduces stress hormones and helps clear your arteries. Adults need, deserve, and probably want play in their lives for stress relief, so you should make a concentrated effort to incorporate more of it into your everyday life - maybe even at work!
4. Find a Furry Friend
Play with a pet, or if allergies are a thing for you, follow some pet instagram accounts full of fluffy friends. Think of this as an informal pet prescription. How can you NOT be happy looking at this?
College campuses across the world, and I’m sure several workplaces, hospitals, and nursing homes are integrating dog therapy as stress relief initiatives. Petting your animals can release feel-good hormones for both of you, while also reducing your personal heart rate.
When you talk to your pets, you probably typically use happy-talk, “who’s a good boy?!” and this positivity in your daily life leads to improved blood pressure rates.
Companionship is also such an important aspect of pets and animals as a fun way to relieve stress. Animals become important parts of our lives, and the importance of their relationships with us should not be discounted. The sense of being loved, and coming home to someone so happy to see you, is a great feeling that can help you displace negative feelings and emotions in your life.
Even if pet ownership isn’t in the stars for you, studies have shown that even brief encounters with animals can have tremendous stress relief benefits.
Have you ever been cut off in traffic or stubbed your toe on the coffee table, and released the F-bomb, and then felt a little bit better? There’s a science behind it.
While cursing is not something normally supported in everyday society, it can be a fun way to relieve stress quickly in really irritating situations. Swearing increases pain tolerance and decreases pain perception. In other words, dropping a curse word helps activate the fight or flight response in our nervous system that has been used to combat stressors for centuries.
It also temporarily creates a sense of control which alleviates anxiety, which stems from feelings of being out of control. Cursing can also help create an atmosphere of humor, lightening the mood after a sudden stress.
We’ve all been in the workplace, and witnessed a coworker have something go wrong only to release her inner sailor, prompting everyone else around to let out a small giggle. It not only lightens the mood quickly, when used sparingly - of course, but it also helps build camaraderie in your close relationships.
While swearing is a fun way to relieve stress, it might not be an appropriate habit to whip out every day at work, so use sparingly. You don’t want to build mechanisms that increase feelings of anger that can lead to more stress down the line.
Find your fun. While some of these strategies might not work for you, it’s important to find a fun way to relieve stress that you feel comfortable with in the face of your future stressors