My method for relieving tension or stress depends on the mood and what might be causing the stress. So, here is one of my baker's dozen lists:
13 WAYS I RELIEVE BUILT UP TENSION:
Writing has always been my go-to. I'll journal something or work on a story. Maybe a blog post. Of course, if writing is the source of my tension then I have to move onto something else.
2. Music. Not writing music, of course, but listening can usually do the trick. The type of music can vary. Typically, my '80s playlist is my favorite but sometimes I need something angsty and edgy. Others, I will turn to something sad and have a good cry. Fun music can lift my spirits. Sometimes finding the right music can be stressful, so I decide I need another outlet.
3. Watching a familiar film or series. The comfort found in a favorite movie or television series is hard to beat, especially if it is a comedy. Arthur, Blazing Saddles, and Tootsie have calmed me when needed. So have episodes of Seinfeld, Arrested Development, or Police Squad!
4. Reading a good book. My to-be-read pile is pretty high and at any given time I will have three or four books going. Right now, I have three. EIleen by Otessa Moshfegh, Cell by Stephen King, and One More Thing by B.J. Novak. Eileen is odd and unsettling. Cell is a good apocalyptic tale, even if it doesn't soar to the heights of King's The Stand. One More Thing is a delight and reading it compels me to explore writing more short pieces for publication. But then that stresses me out, so...
5. The internet rabbit hole. I will immerse myself in researching some piece of trivia which will lead me to another random story and so on until a couple of hours have passed and my stress has faded.
6. Love on my dog Daisy. Honestly, this one works pretty much every time. I will lay next to her and hug her and pet her head. I will do this when I'm not stressed. Loving on Daisy is simply a great way to pass the time.
7. Work. I know it sounds weird, but, as long as work isn't the source of my stress and tension, then immersing myself in it can be therapeutic. I enjoy the work I do, so focusing can even bring me joy when it's really going well. When it's not...
8. Strat-O-Matic games. In 1988, I found a board game at flea market for fifty cents. The game was Strat-O-Matic Football, a football strategy game using cards and dice. I fell in love with it. I discovered the baseball game shortly thereafter and have played both games ever since. For much of the 2010s, I kind of cooled off a bit because I was focused on writing Kilroy Was Here. When COVID hit in 2020, I got back into the game, especially baseball, and it has been a wonderful escape.
9. Other games. We love playing games at our house. Scrabble, Phase 10, Clue, Farkle. When I was a latchkey kid, I often played board games by myself to pass the time.
10. Our pool. We have a swimming pool and in the summer, the perfect tonic is a Saturday or Sunday afternoon floating, listening to music, and reading.
11. Eating. Yeah, I eat my feelings. A LOT. So much so that it has affected my blood pressure and now I'm on medication for it. My doctor is concerned if we don't get it under control, I'm headed for diabetes. This has been a source of stress for me and so, to cope, I am writing about it. The main character in my upcoming novel is essentially addicted to eating. Unfortunately, when I get stressed while writing, I eat.
12. Exercise. I'm terrible at it. I hate going to the gym. Sometimes it's just taking a walk around the block. I used to play sports for recreation. Softball and basketball. Sometimes golf. Those activities allowed me to let off some steam. Since I'm blind in my left eye, I haven't played softball or basketball since 2015. I've played some golf, but not much. Again, I hate going to the gym, even though I usually feel better afterward. Knowing I'm not exercising regularly feels me with guilt and that stresses me out...
13. Massage. I've got a 90-minute massage coming this Friday and I can't wait.