My Big Stupid Stress-Relief Failure

inhale exhale

Greetings from Ariel Clary, the new Latika Writer!

You may be seeing emails from me pop up in your inbox. I recently sent an email containing stress-relief hacks, but I wanted to make a blog discussing them in detail.

In our day and age, we run on anxiety. You may not realize it, but this is true for everyone. Why do you go to bed early, wake up early, brush your teeth for one minute instead of two (really, don’t do that), and storm out the door? Well, it’s to get to work, or school, or drop the kids off at day care or or or…

There’s a million and one reasons! We always have things (many, many things) to get to and finish in the present and the near or distant future.

What’s worse is that we often anticipate or even fear some of our upcoming events. Doctor appointments, deadlines, tests, exams….

These are important things to do, but we also must cope with the side-affects that come from being stuck in fight or flight mode: anxiety, stress, fatigue…

The biggest stress-relief fail I have ever made was waiting until I got too stressed out and THEN taking time to relax… NOPE!!! Don’t do that!

macaron lip scrub
Macaron lip scrub by Latika

Here are four tips to help you relax the RIGHT way:

1)    Have your down-time once or twice a week at scheduled times.

Yes, you must have down-time. If you don’t make time for down-time, then your body will crash, forcing you to take some inconveniently unscheduled down-time.

That was my mistake. I always waited until I crashed. But crashes make it impossible to focus on work, family-time or whatever is important.

Avoid crashes by making down-time as equally important as everything else. Schedule it for once or twice a week. For me, it’s Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons.

You’ll look forward to it! And when it’s over and you have to get back to work, you’ll look forward to next time! Just try some different times and days to see what works best with your body, mind and work schedule.

Take time for yourself
Guava goji soap by Latika

2)    Be free from all distractions.

You may think that surfing the net on your phone is a nice way to spend your down time. WRONG!!! This is what will happen…

“BEEP! BEEP! BZZZ! BZZZ! RING! Hey, hey you forgot to do this! Hey, check your calendar, hey call your mom, check on your dad, check on your old college roommate, create world peace, stress, work, stop being lazy, listen to me!!!”

No, no, no, no!!

Do not listen to the stress-enhancing, task-enforcing beckoning of your cell phone. Turn it off. Close the books. Don’t do anything that can risk you being busy or stressed or unhappy. Take your relaxing so seriously, that you have daddy watch the kids for you!

oatmeal soap warm and comferting
Milk & Honey soap by Latika

3)    Don’t give into the urges to work.

You finally reached your down time. Your phone is off. Unplug that home-phone in the kitchen! Don’t think I didn’t catch that.

You’re sitting in a recliner, all alone. Just you and your creative mind. You close your eyes and do some deep breathing. But suddenly…

“Oh I forgot to turn this in at the office today. Oh I forgot to pick up my check. Oh I forgot to cancel Mr. Tinkles vet appointment tomorrow. Oh I forgot to give Little Jimmy a bath! And I forgot to finish emailing the landlord! And I forgot to empty the litter box!! And!”

Yes, the painful reminders will come, but you just have to think them out. Get rid of them. Do not satisfy your need to work. Wait out the first few terrifying moments.

Yea, this could take hours so try to schedule a few hours of down-time all at once; no that’s not too much.

honey lip scrub
Honey lip scrub by Latika

4)    Do what you love, but don’t plan.

This is the most important. If you don’t have FUN in down-time, then it won’t work. If sitting in a recliner sounds boring, then don’t do that!

But if you plan to finish a painting in your down-time, then that’s not down-time. That’s work. That’s something you’re making yourself do. What if you get tired of painting and feel like getting a snack? Your plan will guilt-trip and stress you.

Don’t think! Don’t plan! When the down-time alarm rings, say “What do I want to do?” And go do it! If some little voice in your head tells you to stop playing piano and randomly moonwalk around the living room, then my goodness! Beat it! Go be Michael Jackson himself!

This is actually how creativity happens. Creativity is spontaneous and has no boundaries, limitations, deadlines, grades… If you learn to be unbelievably spontaneous and random during your down-time, then you may witness an incredibly creative idea pop up in your mind the next day while you’re in the shower, in the car or whatever.

And that thought could help you in your work! Even if you’re not an artist, writer or soap-maker, creativity is needed everywhere in everything.

Go for it!

Aside from fueling creativity, down-time like this will give you more to look forward to in your week, and it will help you avoid crashes, break-downs, anxiety-attacks and stress.

You’ve gotta try it! I guarantee it won’t hurt to try.

Ariel from Latika