After reading Jim’s article here in the Opening Bell, I started thinking about all the research that indicates stress is not only bad for you, but can kill you! But because the subject of stress is so vast, no one seems to have the final answer to the good stress/bad stress conundrum for every individual, because individuals are so, well, different. The only thing we know for sure is that when it comes to stressbusting, one size never fits all.
Knowing I would be writing this article about stress today, I went to bed thinking about it, and just before waking up this morning, the word “stressbusters” popped into my head. I chuckled at the idea that I’d just unconsciously made up a very clever title for my article. As soon as I got to the office I Googled “stressbusters,” and voila: there was a goldmine of stressbusting sites! Clearly I was not the first person asleep or awake to think of the word.
Seven Simple Stress Busters
Within minutes, I found a pretty good stressbusting site at SparkPeople.com. There, blogger Zach Van Hart had written 7 Simple Stress Busters:
- Take a walk;
- Call a friend;
- Write in a journal;
- Play a board game (a simple child’s game, e.g., Candyland, will do, -apparently);
- Work up a sweat;
- Plan something fun;
- Take a hot bath.
Since these are not things that would necessarily work for me (except taking a walk, because I LOVE taking walks that have no pre-determined destination), Van Hart and I recommend you make a list of your own best stressbusters.
A Better Idea: The Love List
Beyond these stress relievers, I have what I think is an even better idea. It proves itself time and again with my clients as a means of stressbusting in the short run with profound results over the long haul. Every client I have ever worked with over the years has done this “homework”, called The Love List:
Make an exhaustive list of all of the things you LOVE to do. These are activities, not things, you love. It’s the active verb we want here, e.g., I LOVE reading, or listening to music, or writing, or playing basketball, or swimming, or whatever applies. Then embellish the fact in whatever ways are true for you, e.g., I LOVE reading novels; then embellish it again, e.g., “I LOVE reading historic novels when I am cuddled up in front of a fire in my grandfather’s rocking chair.” This type of thing could also be, “I LOVE reading trashy novels at the beach on a sunny day; or, I LOVE listening to live jazz in the Fillmore on a Sunday afternoon. The requirements are that you LOVE (rather than just like an activity.) You have to use the word “LOVE” for each thing on this list, even if you are uncomfortable using that word. Also, it is important that whatever it is, it has the power to sweep you away, cause you to lose track of time, and automatically produce good energy for you. I call this energy “YES Energy,” and it is very important. “YES Energy” works to lift your spirits and get your mind off whatever is causing you stress; “YES Energy” is easy, effortless, and enjoyable. You don’t have to make yourself do it because someone said it’s good for you. You already know what works and what doesn’t.
It’s as if you already have a collection of magic bullets that work for you, so USE THEM every chance you get! Calendar them in among the many things you have to do that you don’t really want to do. The activities on your Love List feed you, refresh you, lubricate your life, help you think more clearly, and even help you to make better decisions!