A stress reliever has to be an activity that can effectively take my mind off of a stressor. But it can’t be just any activity. Oft-recommended are such things as taking a walk, listening to music. Those won’t cut it for me. My mind cannot be given a single free moment to wander wherever it wishes (which would inevitably be to the stressor). Walking and listening to music are simply not engaging enough. While I walk, I can think; while I listen, I can think. In fact, I could do both at the same time and still think. No, it has to be an activity that takes more attention and concentration—basically, something that you can’t “tune out” so easily. That means that the main qualities I’m looking for are fast-paced and/or creative, which is why this weekend, I built a snowman.
It’s been many, many years since I last built a snowman, but I was happy with the outcome. I wanted it tall, round, and to look the part, which explains the scarf and top hat. The point is that I gave myself a creative goal so that I could concentrate on getting the result I wanted, which, I suppose, is what stress relief really comes down to: distraction.
If we can find an activity that causes us to effectively—even if temporarily—forget about something that’s bugging us, then we’ve succeeded in finding a stress reliever.
Here are a few other activities that I find work well when trying to free myself from stress.
Mountain biking: fast-paced.
Playing music: creative.
Multiplayer Quake 2: fast-paced.
Watching comedy: distracting.