“Dad, can I have a cookie?” “Dad?” “Dad?” “Hey, dad, cookie?” “Dad?” “Dad?” “Cookie dad.” “Dad, where’s my cookie?” “Dad, can I have ice cream?” “Dad?” “Dad?” “Dad, ice cream.” “Dad, why haven’t you got me a cookie yet?” Take that “conversation” and multiply it by fifty and you will have an average night with Addie. Mix in some crying from Vivi, squealing from both, and an “Addie, stop poking the baby in the eye,” and I have had about all I can handle.
Everyone feels overwhelmed and stressed at times. A year ago the stresses from my job and from my home life caught up to me and I began struggling to sleep. I found myself waking up in the middle of the night and thinking about what I needed to do at my court hearing in the morning. Within a week or two I had begun waking up in the middle of the night worrying about court hearings that were months away. Falling back to sleep was practically impossible. My nightly 2:00 a.m. visits to feed Vivi turned from enjoying my time with vivi to constantly worrying about work. My ability to spend time with Addie became more and more difficult. I just could not handle all of the obnoxious actions of a normal six year old. The stress was even affecting my dreams. It became pretty obvious that I had to find something to relieve my stress, because I was becoming a ticking time bomb.
I have stumbled on a number of things that seem to help manage my stress level. I no longer have trouble sleeping at night. I rarely think about work outside the office and I enjoy spending time with my family. These things have helped me so much, that when I am not able to do a few of them in my week, my wife actually notices that I appear more stressed. Here are 20 things I do to help relieve my stress:
1. Go to a Movie
A lot of people may think I am weird, but I love going to the movie theater by myself. I have a few rules when I go to the movie theater by myself. I will not go to a movie that has not been out for at least two weeks. No weekends. Arrive at least fifteen minutes before the previews. This often means it is me and one or two other people in the theater at a time as I sit in my perfect spot (3/4 up on the left side four chairs in).
2. Weight Lifting
Nothing seems to get rid of the stress more than weight lifting and I have no idea why. It is a relatively brainless activity, but I feel re-energized and great afterwards. It has been so effective that I now go to the gym six days a week.
3. Steam Room
The steam room comes in a close second behind weight lifting for me. I picture myself dropping all of my stress to the side as I sit in the steam room and I repeat the mantra in my head as I sit–“breath in the steam and breath out the bad.” I do this six days a week and definitely notice a difference when I have to skip my daily steam.
Something about a jogger’s high that helps me forget my worries. I jog five days a week on a treadmill (bad knees) increasing my pace each week, and most of the time I come away with that jogger’s high.
5. Clean the House
I have noticed that the messier my house the more stressed I feel. Sometimes when I am stressed I will clean the main level of the house and then relax in its cleanliness.
6. Find Something to View
This is a creek (pronounced crick) in my backyard. I have a spot in my bedroom where I can look out over a field and see the tree line, a pond, and a line of houses. I picture this covered in snow and it does the trick.
7. Take a Nap
Taking a nap can help ease whatever is bothering me. I cannot usually take a nap in the day, but that does not stop me from taking a nap after the kids are in bed (napping with the baby is optional).
8. Listen to Music
Music can be incredibly relaxing and nothing does it better for me than a little, or a lot, of Mumford & Sons. When I have big deadlines at the office and I have to work until midnight, I crank out the Mumford & Sons as I work. Oh, and could Mumford finish that new album already? I’m pretty excited for it.
9. Date Night
Getting out and away from the kids with my wife seems to help hit the reset button. Plus, who would be able to think about stressful things while with that lady?
10. Build Something
Building something can help ease stress by shifting focus and giving a sense of accomplishment after the project is completed. That’s exactly how I felt after I finished my wife’s garden box, oh wait, time to get working on that.
11. Take a Bath with a Bath Bomb
My wife laughed at me when she saw a candle sitting on our bathroom sink after I finished a bath using one of her bath bombs. It is manly to take a bath with a bath bomb – and a candle. Right? I’ll just say that I use two bath bombs per month.
12. Do the Deed
My wife said she would be disappointed if I didn’t include this one. I’ll leave what it can do for the mind to your imagination.
13. Have a Mexican Coca-Cola
About two, or three, okay, maybe four, times per month, I put a Mexican Coca-Cola in the freezer for 55 minutes. Just enough time for it to be on the verge of turning slushy. Once it is the perfect temperature, I sit back take a sip and wonder if there will be Mexican Coca-Cola in heaven.
I hate doing yoga. Hate it with a passion, but I do it occasionally because there is no denying that it has the ability to clear your mind. And your body feels great afterwards.
15. Get a Haircut
I get a haircut at least once per month. I don’t know if I just like someone else cutting my hair or if I just like how my head feels lighter afterwards, but getting a haircut seems to change my mindset for at least the week after.
At night while watching TV, I will usually open my Sudoku app. on my phone and play four or five games of Sudoku. There is something about that logic game that is able to clear my mind, so I have tried to make it a nightly habit.
17. Play Basketball
As a kid, I used to go out in my driveway pretty much every night, even in the winter, to just shoot the basketball. It is relaxing and it helps me think through problems I may be having. I do not have a basketball banker in my driveway now, but I sure would love to have one. For now, I get by playing basketball once per week with other attorneys.
18. Play with a Baby
Who can stay stressed while playing with that baby?
19. Watch Football
I love sitting back and watching a football game. The world just seems right when a football game is playing on my TV. By the way, this is a picture of the Superdome after Utah dominated Alabama in the 2009 Sugar Bowl – what a great day that was.
20. Play an Instrument
Playing the piano can help me set aside stress, I just wish I did it more often.