There are times when my dizzying array of responsibilities seems so daunting that I wonder how I manage to keep up with it all. Work, life, family, friends, romantic interests, hospital appointments, health insurance wars, blogging, social media, my personal business, etc. Needless to say, it sometimes feels difficult to find comfort in times of stress.
When life feels chaotic or I see that I am beginning to put too much emphasis on any one area of my life, I know that it’s time to slow down and do something to rejuvenate my spirit.
People tend to think that taking time for themselves is a huge undertaking that is impossible to achieve. What they don’t realize is that there are really simple ways to decrease stress. The problem is, in order to achieve comfort in times of stress, we have to be fully present in the experience.
What does it mean to be present in an experience? It simply means that if you’re worried about paying your bills on time or you’re worried about whether or not you said something to make your friend angry, you put those worries aside and concentrate on what is happening in the time and space that you presently occupy, using your senses.
Comfort can come from feeling safe, loved, connected to others, or by expressing yourself creatively. As you take action in something you find comfort in, ask yourself if you are fully experiencing the moment of whatever it is you’re doing.
My comforts come in many forms. Below are my top five. Share your favorites with me in the comments section below!
Drinking tea is my primary go to when I feel a bit stressed. There’s something peaceful about taking slow sips of tea, allowing it to warm the body from the inside. According to research done by Steptoe, Gibson, Vounonvirta, et al. (2007), “6 weeks of tea consumption leads to lower post-stress cortisol and greater subjective relaxation, together with reduced platelet activation.” In other words, a decreased stress response in the body. You can read about their study here.
Lately, I’ve been drinking this organic blueberry rooibos tea because it 1) tastes good, 2) is caffeine-free, 3) is high in antioxidants, 3) has minerals that are good for bone health, and 4) improves circulation.
When I have more time to spare, I turn on certain movies that I’ve seen numerous times but include sounds and visuals that I find very comforting. The American Psychological Association’s annual “Stress In America 2009” report states that of the 1,568 adults surveyed, 36% cited movie watching as a stress reliever. You can read about the study here.
Here are a few of my favorite movies.
Over the years, I’ve had so many great animal friends. Petting an animal is a really easy way to reduce stress. According to research done by Anderson, Reid, and Jennings (1992) “Pet owners had significantly lower systolic blood pressure and plasma triglycerides than non-owners.” You can read about the study here.
Here’s a picture of me with my favorite dog friend, Beans.
Nothing can be more comforting than a chat with someone who cares about you and has been by your side through good times and bad. According to Berkowitz (2002) “Study after study has found that social ties reduce our risk of disease by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol.” This is especially true for women. When men are stressed, they prefer to be alone. Read more about this research here.
I’m fortunate to have lots of people who fall into this category. Here’s a little collage of the people who make me feel safe, loved, and happy.
I enjoy being creative. If I find myself stressing out about a project that I’m working on, I stop working on the project and throw myself into an artistic endeavor. According to Curl and Forks (2008) “Art making provided the participants of their study with a significant decrease in stress.” You can read more about the study here.
Some of my favorite creative hobbies include jewelry making, singing, and drawing.
If you know someone who is going through a stressful life event, please share this post with him or her. Show them that there are lots of easy and scientifically proven ways to resolve the stress in their life.
To your comfort and happiness,
JOSEPHINE BILA, M.S.W. has been receiving transfusions to treat a rare genetic blood disorder for over 35 years. Her life experience, advocacy, and schooling helped her become an Expert Patient Representative to the United States Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Special Health Issues. She is an inspirational speaker who has presented to audiences around the world. Her written work has appeared on Yahoo!, CNBC, The Huffington Post, and many other outlets.