I’ve been on a major blogging hiatus. For someone who typically uses writing as a stress management tool, my soul has been hurting the past few weeks. From my early years, creativity has always played a major role in my life. I remember carrying a sketch book with me on long car rides just to capture different visions, design new outfits, or color and shade simple objects. In high school, creativity took new forms like making mixed CDs, experimenting with photography, and letting my thoughts flow into poetry or fiction.
The past few weeks have been a little hectic. I’ve been focusing every ounce of energy outside of myself, using my creativity in a different form by making the golden object for any working woman: the “To Do” List. And oh, how the list grows overnight even without water to nourish it. When things become busy, my imagination is one of the first things to go. Sleeping, eating, and more boring etc. takes precedence. But, as my newest idol Mindy Kaling (more on her later) says, “No one ever wants to hear how stressed out anyone else is because most of the time everyone is stressed out.”
I have formed a brand-new (and hopefully resilient) strategy and hope to make more time for writing as I begin this new school year. I think a routine will provide some more structure and less anxiety. In the meantime, as a newly christened 20-something, officially on the road, fresh employee, here are my most recent tips for stress management:
1. Make something
Butter, surprisingly, can be a great stress relief. And I’m not just talking about stress eating (which I am guilty of doing plenty of times). I recently broke out my room-mate’s vintage Kitchenaid mixer which belonged to her grandmother in the 60s. After some mild issues involving assembly, it was quite relaxing to whip up some rocking cookies (butter included) and get my hands a little sticky in cookie dough. I think taking the time to do anything with your hands, from pottery to gardening, can provide an excellent stress relief and I can’t wait to explore more of these options.
2. Laugh a little
If you have been around me in-person at all the past few weeks, you know that my latest obsession has to do with one hilarious Indian woman named Mindy Kaling. The producer/writer/star of “The Mindy Project” which is taking the television world by storm, Mindy makes me laugh even when I want to cry. Her insight into the world of professional women, dating, and just being all-around awkward is spot-on. I recently downloaded her book, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)”, and I empathize with every word she writes. From being comfortable in her own skin to being comfortable in her own brain, Mindy just gets me. If you need a little chuckle to distract you, check out Mindy or other comedic avenues. Laughter is the best medicine, after all.
3. Hit the Road
Luckily for me, my new job requires some mileage. There is something about just driving and taking in some alone time. My best thinking is done when I’m in the car with only my own thoughts for company. I’ve talked to some of my friends about this, and we all seem to agree that when the going gets tough, get in your car and get going. The best car playlist for some stress relief though? “Build Me Up Buttercup” on Pandora will keep you grooving for hours. Oldies have a special place in my heart, and these are always guaranteed to lift my mood, ridiculous dance moves included.
4. Quality Time
I’m thankful for wonderful friends and family who support me during the beginning of my transition into the professional world. Recently, I was lucky enough to spend some quality time with a few of my close friends who I hadn’t seen for the majority of the summer. It was such a blessing to catch up and debrief on our own lives. My sisters and I also spent time together the past few weeks, and they always fill me with such joy. From laughter to enjoying queso—there’s never a dull moment! Taking time from my own life to focus on others, even just to take a moment to catch up, can be a major stress relief and an important one.
5. Find your place
I think there’s something about returning to spot that holds a special place in your heart. This spot has changed in Manhattan, Kansas for me so often because every place in this wonderful town is “a spot that I love full well”. The Konza Prairie is the perfect place to escape and find peace of mind, especially if you’re looking for a long walk and beautiful sites. Another favorite of mine is Bluestem Bistro, which not only has the best cup of coffee in town but also a soothing atmosphere that helps me relax. Last year I would visit all the time on rainy afternoons to work on homework or my latest writing project. This past month, my place has been the First United Methodist Church on Pointz. The pastor is fabulous at public speaking, but often times, it’s the message that really keeps my attention. A couple weeks ago, I needed to hear a message about clean starts and peace. He delivered a message on allowing yourself to “Be Fresh Water”, providing a sanctuary for yourself and for others, and allowing forgiveness to wash over you. The choir performed a song that has always stayed with me called “River in Judea”, which I once performed in high school at a KMEA Honor Choir concert. I had previously been listening to the song all week to help myself relax, and I felt chills the moment the choir unexpectedly performed it. It might be a moment, like mine a few Sundays ago; it might be place you love. Any of these can provide you with the opportunity to refresh and rid yourself of stress which is getting in the way of your life.
I’m hoping to take some of my own advice this semester and put these tips to good use. Eventually, I’m also hoping to have some profound blog posts. For the time being, however, in the words of Elsa from Frozen, I hope you all have the chance to “Let it Go” over the next few weeks and take some time for yourself. Make something, laugh a little, hit the road, enjoy some quality time, and find your place. You deserve it!