I recall a time when I had a particularly tough day at work and was facing a long evening of family and church demands ahead. I came home from work and kind of unleashed on my wife and family. My wife, who is amazingly tuned in to my moods and needs, sent me off to the gym to work off some of the stress.
Just like our children when they have had a bad day or are misbehaving, every dad occasionally needs a time out. Finding productive ways to relieve stress is a necessity in a world filled with challenge and stress.
Hit the gym
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For me, this is one of the best ways to relieve stress. Working out helps provide some natural endorphins that seem to really help with managing stress. And for me, the thinking time on the treadmill or lifting weights helps me get it all in perspective.
Go to a happy place
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You don't really have to go to Disneyland to find a spot of happiness, even though it is the "happiest place on earth." A life coach I know encourages his clients to find a place in their past where they felt peace and safety, and then to go there in times of stress or contemplation. For some, that is in the treehouse in their childhood backyard. For others, it is fishing by a stream in the mountains. My happy place is sitting on the beach near Mendocino, California where I went with my family as a young man. I can't always to go Medocino, but I can sit quietly with my eyes closed and visualize
it. Whether in person or in my mind's eye, heading off to my "happy place" can help me lose the negative symptoms of stress.
Take a long walk
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One of the easiest stress relievers is to take a long walk
. There is a trail a couple of miles from my home that winds through trees and along a river that is an amazing time-out location for me. Walking a few miles is good for the body and can also be good for a troubled and stress out soul.
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My sisters find stress relief when they head to a salon to get their hair done, get a pedicure or a manicure. Sometimes, a bit of good grooming can help a dad get a new lease on life. Heading to the barber shop or a salon for a haircut can make you feel better - and you can talk it out with the barber or stylist as well.
Get a ticket to ride
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Getting away from immediate stressors can be fun as well. Get on a train or a bus and head across town or out of town. Changing scenery while you are thinking can help bring some needed perspective to your life.
Hit the sack early
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Stress seems to be exacerbated by exhaustion. I know I have much less capacity for dealing with anything out of the ordinary when I haven't had enough sleep
. Taking a nap or heading to bed a bit earlier than normal can be a good way to have a time-out when you need one.
Hang out with a friend
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Talking with a trusted friend can often be a good way to get a stress time-out. A little relaxation with someone you enjoy can offer some perspective in life’s hardest moments.
Hit the garden
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I will admit to being a guy who loves gardening, but I think there is something soothing about working in and with nature. Getting your hands dirty while helping nurture a garden, flowers or vegetables can be really therapeutic.
Try yoga or tai chi
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I have not tried yoga
or any of the other physical disciplines like tai chi
for stress relief, but I have friends who believe that these kinds of activities are the best ways to reduce stress. There is something about the rhythmic movement and personal discipline that seems to help the body release stress and better deal with life's challenges.
Escape at the theater
A good movie, an entertaining play or other dramatic diversion can be a way to escape immediate stress. Getting involved in an interesting plot with visual stimulation can let you take a figurative deep breath when handling stressful circumstances.