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5 ways to destress after a long week

In our ultra-busy lives, it can seem like there is an endless list of demands on us, and by the end of the week, we can all feel a little bit frazzled. Of course, you can always go the bubble bath route, but that's not for everyone. Here are five suggestions for decompressing after a week filled with too many expectations:


5. Make a list of the things you feel you need to accomplish. Just writing down our thoughts about the concerns that are pressing on us can lighten the load for us. Maybe the list isn't as long as it seemed in your head,or maybe you can see a way to group things together to make them easier to tackle. Having a list and ordering the items into priorities can help that ever growing list to feel manageable and not nearly so stress inducing.


4. Listen to Music. Sure, you probably do this all of the time. But how deeply do you listen? Try sitting in your favorite spot, turning out the lights, and just listening in the dark. Let your mind wander into the lyrics. Just sit quietly and listen, and allow your brain to slow down for a bit. It can be very relaxing.


3. Take Up a Hobby. Is there something you have always wanted to do but have never gotten around to? Make the time to try it, even if it's only for an hour or two. Drawing, coloring, papercrafts, knitting, model building and other hobbies take you out of your busy life and make you concentrate on them. When you work on a project, you feel a sense of accomplishment and your brain can focus on something other than your usual problems. Don't worry if you're not great at what you are trying. Everything takes practice to be good at it.


2. Keep a Journal. Writing in a journal is a great way to relieve stress and express yourself, without having to expose your thoughts to other people. You can have all the benefits of expressing yourself without any of the worries of judgments someone might make if you said the things you are writing. Journaling helps you make sense of what has been happening in your life and helps you to make decisions about things that are worrying you. You can write about your day, how you feel, the questions about life you don't understand, the people who frustrate you or make you happy, or the things you dream about doing. You can imagine yourself in Paris or stay right where you are and think about what's going on in your life. You may even come up with some ideas about how to solve some of the problems you are experiencing or worry less about the things that are stressing you.


1. Read a Story. Stay with me here a moment. I know reading is a chore for some of us, but did you know that when you get engrossed in a book, your whole brain chemistry changes? Well, it does! This is called narrative simulation, but what it means is that you can escape into the pages of a book and become someone else for a little while. If you aren't a reader by nature, this one may take a little practice. But once you allow yourself to become involved in a story, your brain starts to feel all of the things that the main character feels. So just make sure you pick the kind of escape you want (romance, history, fantasy hero, sci-fi warrior, etc.) Reading is one of the best things you can do for your brain, and it's a great escape once you let yourself really pay attention to a story.

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