To Find Peace, Start At Home

I stress easily. I’m not sure how early in my life this started, however I do know it’s been going on as long as I can remember. It’s not that I stress about everything. I can’t recall the last time I stressed about something academic (maybe the hell that was my sophomore English class in high school?), nor can I recall a time where I stressed because I felt like I wasn’t able to live up to a responsibility set forth before me. Things that stress many people out aren’t the catalyst for my stress.

Money? That’s a huge stress point. This past winter I went to visit my dad and grandparents. I met my dad at his work place so that we could pick up lunch for my grandma (who was going through chemotherapy at the time). When my dad went to the ATM to get cash out, he was so excited that he still had $15 left after making his withdraw. If my bank account sniffed $150, I’d be finding a second, third, and fourth job.

Work? Another giant stress point. I do nothing less than everything I can do every single day at work. It makes me work late here and there frequently, however I was raised with the mentality that you don’t leave work until your job is done. While I know this pays off in the long run, it certainly drives me insane in the short-term.

Here’s the thing though…I don’t like to stress. Shocking, right?

I tend to float around reading blogs around the internet quite a bit. I realize many of you who are commenters (frequent or occasional) on this blog likely ended up coming here for the first time because I left a comment on your blog. In my perusing, I came across this post by Amanda at Musings of a Crazy Cat Girl discussing where she finds peace. While I won’t steal Amanda’s thunder (or traffic to her blog) by listing out her items on this post, what I will say is that there was a consistent theme across all five items that brought here peace. That theme is that each of the items that bring her peace are near and dear to her heart.

I decided to take my own stab at this by listing off five items that bring me peace and allow me to destress. My apartment has become its own sanctuary for my mind and my sanity, so I chose to limit myself and my list to activities that can be completed in, or items that can be found within my apartment.

Image credit: actclassy.com. Seriously though, if you have bacon, you’re automatically classy.

1. Cooking – I love to cook. I’ve found joy in making food ever since I was a young child (and have the scar on my head to prove it). It’s just such a calming and gratifying action to be able to take ingredients and turn them into something wholly different and new. Of course, being able to enjoy the fruits (or vegetables) of my labor is always a plus.

2. Sleep – I realize this might be a bit of a copout response, however a big reason I (along with many other people) have such a difficult time dealing with stress is due to a lack of sleep. I totally remember hating naptime as a kid. After all, why would I want to take a nap when I could go outside and get grass stains on my jeans from playing football? Adult me realizes that little kid me was half wrong — I should have taken a nap THEN went to get he grass stains on my clothes.

Image credit: explosm.net

3. Video Games – I have to use my mind a lot at work. Getting bombarded with question after question after question after question after question from every angle for days upon weeks upon months takes a bit of a toll on the mind. Sometimes, it’s just fun to turn on the Xbox 360, put in NCAA 12, turn the difficulty down to the lowest setting, and win 94-0. Owning fighting/wrestling games allows me to take out pent-up frustration on video game characters…plus as we’ve discussed before, I’m a bit of a wrestling mark.

4. Music – Music a very cathartic part of my life. I realize that’s the case for many people, and I’m certainly no exception to the rule. After a long day, I’ll put on some of my favorite songs and just let the music play while I relax or eat dinner. Nine times out of ten, I’m feeling better within a half hour or so.

So I GISed for “love of writing” and got this. The fuck do meerkats have to do with writing? Image credit: fuelyourwriting.com

5. Writing – Sure, this was the obvious final choice on the list, but my writing really does mean that much. Frankly, my writing doesn’t always have to be on my blog in order to relieve my stress (though lately most of my writing has been blog related). It’s just the action of writing that allows me to rid myself of stress and pent-up emotion. Some of my best posts — be they personal posts, short stories, or something entirely different — have come about as a result of writing when I’m stressed.

What do you do to find peace and destress? Sound off in the comments.

Front page image credit:  Umberto Salvagnin on Flickr

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11 thoughts on “To Find Peace, Start At Home

  1. I’m a big stresser/worrier as well. Sometimes my friends mention how they’re down to their last $15-20 and I freak out FOR them, even though they’re not freaking out at all. I’m always of the mindset, “If something bad could happen, it will happen.” Even though that’s not necessarily the case.

    Of your list, I’ll agree with sleep, music, and writing. Especially music. It’s amazing how quickly music can change your mood. Cooking is actually kind of stressful for me unless I’m making something really easy like grilled cheese or tacos. I’m not very good at cooking and especially trying to cook multiple dishes at once really makes me nervous. And video games actually stress me out too! Maybe it’s because I don’t play that often so I’m usually really rusty at them and constantly die/fail… either way, it’s not a good time.

    PS that Cyanide and Happiness comic is great.

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    1. Video games can also be a big source of frustration for me. If I’m playing video games to destress (which rarely happens recently), I’m dropping the difficulty as low as I possibly can. I don’t particularly care if it’s stupid…easy video games are very, very relaxing.

      I love Cyanide and Happiness. I used to use their comics a lot more (along with XKCD) on the old blog…might have to get back into that here.

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  2. Cooking is really fun for me, part of the time. The other time…it’s too much! Haha. I tend to like it more on weekends versus making dinner after work.

    I think a lot of people look at “de-stressing” as…not doing anything. Like sleeping or Netflix binging, etc. I think it’s important to find something that stretches you physically and mentally also, because it’s about truly occupying your mind with something else, not just blanking out from the bad stuff.

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    1. I’m with you on the enjoying to cook more on the weekends part. I’ve had some terribly long days at work recently. When those days end, I have zero desire to do anything, let alone cook for myself or others.

      I think there’s different types of destressing. Sometimes, the physical and mental act of destressing is the only way to handle all the complex emotions that come with stress. On the other hand, there are times where stress tires you to the point where doing nothing is a way to help you relax.

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  3. Writing does it for me too, especially if I can go do it at a coffee shop. I think I find something soothing in the hum of background noise, probably because of growing up in a noisy household.

    I also find exercise and stretching incredibly stress-reducing, especially if I go to the gym alone and with no time constraints, so I can stretch, shower, or use the sauna as long as I want to.

    Cleaning too. I do it without even thinking when I’m having an anxiety attack. In fact almost every time Tyler and I have argued I’ve eventually started doing dishes while we talked without even noticing!

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    1. Cleaning is a significant source of anxiety for me. So much so that I have extreme dread of doing it and will put it off as long as possible. It’s not cleaning everything…but most cleaning tasks are this way.

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  4. You basically just described me. Both in the stress thing, and in the ways I destress. Except, I have a nasty habit of getting so busy I forget to destress, which is something I’ve been trying to work on. I’m terrible with stressing. I stress when there is nothing to stress about because I freak out that I must be missing something that I should have been stressing about. A lot of that, we’ve learned, is due to my anxiety disorder, but it still makes it hard to figure out what’s real stress and what’s fake stress.

    That being said, if it weren’t for playing insane amounts of Dragon Age: Origins, II and Inquisition over the last two months, I’d probably be in a far worse state than I am right now.

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    1. So last night, the fiancee had some friends over which led to us playing Smash Bros. They were all playing against really difficult computer players, which I was okay with, but didn’t prefer. I made the comment that I don’t play video games for a challenge, I play them to destress, which means easy is great. The point to my destressing was lost on them, but it works for me.

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      1. EXACTLY! Scott asks me the same thing, because I usually play on easy or casual. But I play it to destress, and get immersed in the story. I’m not looking for an extra super hard challenge (which I could still beat if I wanted to), I just want to decompress from the real world for a while.

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        1. I’m alright at video games, however I’m not where near as good as most people are. There are certain genres of games I’m good at (turn-based RPGs, sports games), however there are very few people I know who will play such games with me.

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