Cooling Stress Tips: Variety Is The Spice Of Life

Judi Light Hopson Tribune News Service

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Judi Light Hopson, author of the stress management book, “Cooling Stress Tips”,  shares her best advice on how to switch things up and create a little excitement in your life.

Tribune

Are you upset that life feels hum-drum and kind of empty?

Maybe you’re doing well in your career field, keeping up your mortgage payments, and managing life decently well. But still, you feel something is missing.

Managing your life, schedule, activities and responsibilities is no small feat. However, at times, you wonder if something major needs addressing. You have a feeling that your life could be better.

“I was very aggravated a few months ago,” says a football coach we’ll call Aaron. “I’d wake up feeling depressed and start comparing my own life to my brother’s laid-back lifestyle.”

Aaron finally figured out he was “functioning like a robot.” He was so good at keeping a tight schedule, taking care of his home and family, and exercising like one of his football players, he insists he was like a cartoon character.

“Every day of my life was like the day before,” laughs Aaron. “I was up at 5:30, putting on clothes I’d laid out the night before, checking my schedule, lining up my phone calls. But I had nothing new happening in my world.”

To spice up his life, Aaron started keeping a little journal on his desk to document changes. To improve the boredom and create some excitement, he now does the following:

– He reads a new book every two weeks. Aaron likes to read in the afternoons, so he bought four new books to get started. Initially, he bought only business books. But now, he’s ordering science fiction and gardening books.

– He’s cooking one new interesting dish every week. Aaron told his wife he’ll cook dinner every Friday night all by himself. He invites his wife to choose new dishes she wants him to try.

– He’s doing a Zoom meeting every weekend with old friends from high school. Aaron’s class had a reunion two years ago, but later, everybody lost contact. He decided to line up a Zoom meeting every Sunday afternoon. Typically, 15 or 20 people take part in the meeting.

– He and his wife take a scenic drive every Saturday afternoon. They live near the Cherokee National Forest, so they load up their dog in their SUV and explore some hills and valleys. They take a snack and bottled water with them.

“Making some small changes is really easy,” says Aaron. “Anyone can alter their schedule and activities just a little bit in several areas. Having something to look forward to is the key.”

A health care worker we’ll call Larry says his wife was getting very depressed. “She stays indoors and never sees the sun,” says Larry. “So, I’ve encouraged her to walk with me every afternoon outdoors, even if we have to bundle up.”

Gloomy weather, lack of choices about where to go and whom to visit can make any of us feel down. It’s when we figure out new choices that we feel more in control.

“Stimulating our senses helps curtail boredom and depression,” says a psychologist we’ll call Dan. “People are really unloading their stress on me, during this pandemic.” He works with clients by Zoom or phone calls.

“I’ve made it a point to listen to great music and do some exercise every afternoon,” says Dan. “Otherwise, my own stress is going to destroy me!” Dan summarizes: “Forcing yourself to do new things will stimulate the brain, body, hormones, and good feelings that are buried. Sitting in a chair feeling sorry for yourself never works. Taking some control over choices instantly reverses your depression. Your mental health is always boosted by doing a variety of things.”

(Judi Light Hopson is author of the stress management book, “Cooling Stress Tips.” She is also executive director of USA Wellness Cafe at www.usawellnesscafe.org.)

©2021 Tribune Content Agency

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