All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


Day 21: Six of the best ways to reduce stress…

Day twenty-one of the 30 Days of Mental Illness Awareness Challenge asks
Many people say stress triggers symptoms, do you agree or disagree?


My breakdown occurred as a result of stress; the stress of an emotionally abusive relationship, the stress of returning to college as a mature age student, the stress of physical illness, the stress of being so far from home, the stress of not being able to open up about my history of mental illnesses.

When I am stressed, my anxiety explodes to levels that impair day-to-day functioning, the nightmares that haunt my sleep-time increase to unbearable levels and I am reduced (on an emotional level) to that of a scared, trembling child desperate for nurture and safety.

Stress and symptoms go hand in hand.

As do symptoms and stress.

When I am experiencing heavy symptoms – the volatile mood swings, the anxiety or panic attacks, the aforementioned nightmares, the urge to self-harm – my stress levels escalate, thus feeding the vicious cycle that has been my burden for the last twenty years of my life.

I’ve never found something that eases the stress completely. At times I’ve been able to control it, to reduce it to a ‘manageable’ level, but it is always there, bubbling beneath the surface, waiting to strike.

If I ever find a way to beat it, I’ll let you know. Until then, here are six of the best ways I’ve found to reduce stress:

1. Muscle relaxation

There are many different ways one can relax the various muscles in the human body, but the one that works best for me involves beginning at the feet and working all the way up through your muscle groups until you reach your head.

You begin by slowing your breathing and then, after breathing in, squeeze all the muscles in your feet for five seconds, and then breathe out. Whilst keeping regular breathing, you then repeat squeezing the muscles of your feet two more times before slowly working up your body – legs, buttocks, stomach, hands, arms, shoulders, neck, face – working each group of muscles three times each.

By the time you’ve finished your face, you should hopefully be a lot more relaxed than you were at the start!

2. Movie night!

We all have a favourite ‘comfort film’ (mine’s Tremors, by the way), so if you’re starting to feel your stress levels rise, why not curl up on the sofa and treat yourself to a movie night? Watching a treasured movie (or two, or three) can work wonders to reduce your stress levels!

3. Sex

The rush of endorphins that are released upon orgasm are a potent stress-buster, they aren’t called the body’s natural painkillers for no reason! So why not give your mattress (or carpet, kitchen table, whatever) a workout to help beat stress?

But if you – like me – are not lucky enough to have someone to enjoy this wonderful act with, you can always do it alone! After all, there is absolutely nothing wrong with bringing pleasure to yourself! :p

4. Exercise

If masturbation is not for you (!?) you can always head out and get some exercise. Whether it be a session down the gym, a jog along the beach or a bike ride through the mountains, exercise will release those very same endorphins that are released during sex. It’s just not quite as much fun!

5. Chocolate

And keeping on the endorphins theme…eating chocolate can also cause those happy little endorphins to rush around your beautiful body, it just might take an unholy amount of chocolate to cause the same amount that exercise or sex will release!

6. Colouring in

It doesn’t matter if you’re a twenty-something Uni student or a fifty-something CEO, there is something immensely relaxing in cracking out the crayons and channeling your inner child. Don’t believe me? Why not go grab yourself a colouring book (or print out the image(s) below) and give it a try…I guarantee it will help de-stress you! :)

Do you have any tips or tactics that help de-stress you? Feel free to share them below… :)