Prepared by: Ashleigh Grange, R.H.N. | AshleighGrange.com
How do you deal with stress? Do you cultivate a flower or herb garden? Or maybe spring cleaning helps keep your anxiety at bay? Perhaps you nurture a robust sourdough starter in the hopes of baking up a perfect tangy loaf? These are examples of creative stress relief strategies that coupled with a healthy diet, physical activity, and adequate sleep can help us address stress. Whether it’s from our finances, family, job, or other sources, stress negatively affects every system in the body. Luckily, the following practices can inspire creativity, a skill we can all access to help relieve stress. Consider integrating one or more of these activities into your self-care routine to enhance your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health and well-being.
WritingWriting can be one of the most effective creative stress relief strategies, especially since you can write things you wouldn’t dare say outside the privacy of your journal. There are no limits! You could write about your day or your goals. You could doodle or draw to express how you feel. You could choose a few words or an inspiring quote to act as an affirmation. Use it to guide you as you face challenges throughout your day. The science supports it! Practices to try:
- Use your journal to do a brain dump of all the things that are stressing you out. Then, on a new page, list all the things you’re grateful for right now.
- Do an Internet search for writing prompts and choose some that resonate with you. Here are some journaling ideas for stress and anxiety to consider. https://www.theodysseyonline.com/journal-prompts-anxiety
CookingFood projects with simple ingredients and clear instructions can be a stress-free way to get creative in the kitchen. Mindfully kneading dough, stirring soup, and chopping farm-fresh vegetables are easy ways to effectively relax. For some, these activities can even act as “moving meditation”. Feeling brave? Maybe you want to try a new cooking technique. Or cook a dish without a recipe, relying only on your intuition and imagination. If it works out, maybe it will be the first recipe in your future cookbook! Practices to try:
- Ferment a probiotic-rich food like sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi, or kombucha. Fermented foods are simple to make and provide unparalleled digestive and immune support. All you have to do is be patient and wait!
- Experiment with a new cooking technique by making ghee, or clarified butter with an irresistible nutty flavour. Or maybe spending a Sunday afternoon baking artisanal whole-grain bread is more up your alley.
Art TherapyWhether you like to draw mandalas, paint with watercolours, or photograph local wildflowers, you can use your artistic talents to express yourself. You don’t need to be an award-winning artist for art to help calm and centre you. The fun is in the creative process. And letting your imagination run wild has proven health benefits! Practices to try:
- Follow a tutorial for painting anything from flowers to fantasy art or print adult colouring pages and have fun with them.
- Make a vision board of your future goals. Cut pictures from magazines to assemble a creative collage that motivates you every day.
- Grab your camera and document your artistic adventures on your blog, on Instagram, or in a DIY scrapbook.
MeditationMeditation and mindfulness techniques like guided visualization and deep breathing can help enhance mental health. Find a couple creative stress relief strategies that you enjoy and practise them regularly. These could include a structured meditation practice or even simple focus exercises. Practices to try:
- Explore meditations via the Insight Timer app for your phone or tablet. It offers options for every topic you can imagine, and it’s free!
- Practice my Whole Body Attitude of Gratitude Meditation for a simple but profound way to connect with your body.
CraftingHands-on crafts like sewing, soap making, knitting, or even jewellery making are creative ways to reduce stress. As a bonus, they enhance manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination! Practices to try:
- Sew a reusable rice bag with a favourite fabric to use as a hot/cold compress.
- Create a necklace using beads or found objects.
- Make a lotion or bar soap if you enjoy homemade skincare. Colour it naturally with beet powder or add poppy seeds for a gentle exfoliating quality.