13 Ways to De-Stress, Lighten the Load and Feel Like Yourself Again


November 12, 2012   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Are you feeling tired, frustrated, overloaded and overwhelmed?

Are you easily stressed out and irritated by the little things?

If any demands are placed on you, does it all feel like too much, and do you just end up snapping at someone?

Most likely, what’s happening is you’re emotionally blocked and full of energetic toxins, but with a few easy exercises you can feel like your best self once more and get back to being able to cope with life.

The body’s emotional energetic system works in exactly the same way as the digestive system; digesting and absorbing what’s good and needed and then letting go of the waste.

Feelings such as worry, fear, guilt, shame, sadness, anger and frustration can become toxic and like negative waste to the body. If they are not let go of, they build up, causing emotional constipation.We end up lugging around the equivalent of a bag of crap strapped to our backs,which weighs us down and can easily end up spilling on to other people (by blaming, lashing out and projecting), because there becomes too much for us to manage.

To free yourself, you must choose to put down the bag of crap.

Take responsibility for your own well-being. Give yourself the freedom to let it go and express it in a healthy, safe manner without judgement, shame or blame for what comes out – remember, most of it is just crap.

Like our digestive system, we do need to clear the build-up of emotional waste every day if we want to feel truly happy and healthy.

Here some simple ways that you can help yourself to release your energetic waste and soothe your body to re-establish balance.

    1. Strong, deep breathing
      This is the body’s most obvious mechanism to let go of stress and tension; the intake of oxygen, which is then taken into the blood and sent to the muscles, cleansing any toxins (built-up tension). The out-breath lets go of some waste.By taking long, deep breaths with the conscious intention to both breathe in fully and then completely let go of waste we can quickly alter our emotional and physical state. Try counting for four deep, long in-breaths through the nose and out through an open mouth, deliberately making a noise as you do so.
    1. Get active
      Tension is blocked emotional energy, which can build up in our muscles in key areas, such as the legs, shoulders, neck and back as a response to our nervous system and the impact of stress hormones produced every day in the brain and body, which are continuously responding to life’s stresses.The body needs to be active to release the blocked energy and change it into kinetic energy (movement) to flow freely once more. Try walking, running, dancing, gardening or swimming – anything that gets your heart pumping and muscles working.
    1. Beat up your bed or go boxing/kick-boxing
      Don’t be afraid to physically release your anger, as the body is naturally designed to let it out. However, do take responsibility for being an adult and do it in a safe, contained way.For example, join a boxing or kick-boxing class, or you can beat up your bed; pile up your duvet and pillows and, using another cushion, vigorously beat up the pile and give yourself permission to add some verbal expression too. [Bed beating is also a great, safe exercise for children and teenagers to release frustration.]

      NB: Tidying up your bed afterwards is important to help you calm down and re-settle. DON’T FORGET TO BREATHE.

    1. Scream, shout and swear
      Verbally express your frustrations and tension in the privacy of your parked car, in a field or by the sea – just open your mouth and express yourself freely and loudly without judgement, blame or shame about what comes out.
    1. Scribble
      Get some paper and strongly colored pencils or pens and simply allow yourself to scribble like a kid, with enthusiasm, and fill the page. Ensure you make a mess on the sheet and keep going until your arms are tired. Then rip the sheet up into tiny pieces and throw it away.
    1. Write in a journal
      Use a private book that you can free-write in about how you feel and what is annoying you or stressing you. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar or handwriting; just jot down your thoughts without censoring them. Ideally, writing with pencil/pen and paper is much more effective than typing on a computer.
    1. Passionately sing along to emotive music
      Let go of negative energy and feelings by singing along – loudly, with expression – to songs that mean something to you.
    1. Have a good cry
      Tears are not shameful or weak; they are simply a natural form of cleansing to release tension, so give yourself permission and the space to cry. Perhaps you could listen to emotive music or watch a sad movie to help put you in the mood.
    1. Laugh
      Watch something funny that is guaranteed to make you laugh. You could also try going to a comedy night. Give yourself full permission to belly-laugh and express your laughter openly without shame or embarrassment.
    1. Meditation
      Meditating can sound difficult, and people often struggle with focusing on their breathing, so I would suggest doing this after having physically released some tension.Just sit quietly in a chair, close your eyes and focus on what you can hear inside yourself and outside yourself, for a count of five slow breaths (listening to some soothing music can help). Then focus on what you can taste for five breaths.

      Next, focus on what you can smell as you breathe in and out through your nose for five breaths. Then concentrate on what it feels like to be sitting in the chair, in contact with the chair, for five breaths, and then open your eyes and look around with concentration while taking five final breaths.

    1. Talk to someone
      A problem shared is a problem halved’. Talking honestly and being listened to by someone we trust allows us to express the energy we feel in our emotions. Rarely do we need advice; often, we just need someone to really listen to us.
    1. Give and receive hugs
      When we have warm physical contact with another being we trust, whether that is a human or an animal it soothes our nervous system, by stimulating the body’s natural love drug (oxytocin) which slows the production of the bodies stress drugs (cortisol and adrenaline) resulting in deeper breathing, lower blood pressure and relaxation.Having a massage is a good substitute for this, and can be beneficial for both releasing muscular tension and soothing the nervous system.
  1. Have a bath/shower
    Water is very soothing for the whole body, so take some time to relax in a warm bath or shower. Perhaps light a candle in the bathroom, play some relaxing music, surrender to the feeling of the water and close your eyes.

Take responsibility for your well-being.

Prioritize this and regularly make the space and time to do one or more of the items from each section listed above, so you don’t end up dumping your crap on other people.

Most importantly, you can once more feel like yourself: emotionally healthy, balanced and able to cope with life again.

Written on 11/12/2012 by Joanna Warwick. Joanna Warwick; Writer, philosopher, Relationship/Family Therapist: Standing up for adults to have fun, freedom & joy at www.grownupkidsonly.com. Yours free to download the Grown-Up Kid’s Manual For Living; www.grownupkidsonly.com/manual Photo Credit:

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