By Kristen Donia

Life isn’t always easy. There’s no other way to cut it. The ups and downs of our lives are captivating, heartbreaking, inspiring, soul-full, joyous and so much more.

Let’s face it, even with technology and worldwide connection literally at our fingertips, there has never been more separation in our human connection. As we spend more time behind screens than we do face-to-face with one another, life can feel overwhelming and complicated. I’m here to tell you – you’re not alone. Not even a little bit.

There are a ton of different ways to handle stress, and we all do it differently, at different times. Scrolling through social media, talking to your family, looking to friends for support or bingeing on Netflix, all of these are common ways to deal.

None of which are wrong, by the way. Read that again. None of these are inherently wrong. However you decide to deal with the inevitable stress that comes with being a human living a complicated existence is perfectly fine, totally normal and okay. If it is harming yourself or others, jeopardizing your life, or the lives of those around you, then you probably want to step back and re-evaluate what empty space inside you this behavior or activity is filling.

Often times we engage in these behaviors because there is something else we’re trying to avoid. Stepping back and taking an honest inventory of our lives is difficult, vulnerable, and uncomfortable to say the least. Do you know what else it is? A perfect place to start. And just like other things in life, you can start small. You don’t have to find a sudden fix for everything in your life right this instant, that’s not realistic. Simply considering what aspects of your life no longer serve the person you are or who you want to become is the overall goal. The most important part is taking an objective look at what you want.

Are the choices you’re making in alignment with your goals? If they aren’t, perhaps it’s time to switch directions, even if it’s one step at a time. Maybe on the weekends, you find yourself bingeing on the latest episodes on Netflix. You could watch for a few episodes less and read a blog from someone with your dream job, or someone who is pursuing a passion that makes your heart tick in the very same way, or pick up a book. You don’t have to go big with large lifestyle changes (unless that’s what you want), instead, you can simply ask yourself the questions. How does this serve me? Start there. You’d be amazed at what can come from a simple check-in.

My favorite ways to de-stress are below. Some I do on their own, others I combine for an action (or rest)-packed de-stressing combo of delight.

  • Going for a Walk
  • Petting my Dog
  • Writing in a Gratitude Journal
  • Being in Nature
  • Meditation
  • Stretching
  • Running
  • Going to the Gym
  • Attending a Yoga Class
  • Spending Quality Time with Friends and Family
  • Writing in my Journal
  • Expressive Writing (give it a Google, it’s life-changing!)
  • Listening to Music
  • Learning Something from a Cool Podcast

What are some of your favorite ways to de-stress?