Over the past few months, I’ve been under a considerable amount of stress, which, in essence, leads to anxiety
and depression. That’s the bad news. The good news is that over the years, I’ve found a way to deal it; some things I found through external research, some things I’ve come up simply through life.

Listen to relaxing music. When I was a junior in college, my neighbor played this music that put me in the most-relaxed mode without much effort. I had no idea what this “music” was, but it was the bomb for my mood. It literally helped me feel light-weight. Years later, I found “nature” sounds were great to help me relax. I started with a CD. Now I have a nature station and a white noise station on Pandora. I highly recommend these stations if you’re having a hard time sleeping, worked up, or anticipating an anxiety-producing experience, listening to relaxing music is a great .

Music, in general. I’ve found that music is a great way to dictate the mood. I learned the power of music again during my junior year in college. Music can support, or even alter, your mood. If I’m dealing with a breakup – or just guy issues, I listen to music that expresses my emotions. If I’m feeling a little angry, I listen to music that helps me let out both virtual and real screams. And Gospel has a way of reminding me who I really am – Rebuild by J. Moss is specifically one that speaks to me

Workout. I don’t work out a ton. So, if you see me on my treadmill, watch out. I may be in a bad mood. The good thing is that it’s a healthy alternative, and my butt and legs get a small boost.

I blog or journal. I’ve found that writing has been a great outlet for years. I once heard a pastor say to just write without rules. Though, he was speaking about writing out his prayers, I believe limiting the rules allows a person to be free. Forget grammar rules. Forget spelling. And limit how much you think about who’s reading it.

I write poetry. Most of my poetry is pretty dark. That’s because it’s birthed out of a dark place. It doesn’t mean I stay in a dark place. It just means it’s a way to let it out.

Twitter, and it’s associated sarcasm, is my friend. You have no idea how much steam you can let out in 140 characters or less. Note: you may want to be ambiguous depending on the subject and who may be viewing…or, better yet, create a private account that’s meant for letting it out. I’m not gonna say I have a few friends who have such accounts – and I used to have one myself.

Pinterest boards. Create a funny board and a cute board. When something that fits these categories come across your Pinterest feed, pin it to these boards, and when you’re feeling “in a mood”, go to one or both of these boards. You’d be amazed at how something so small…and free…can life your mood.

I let it out. I find someone who I can talk to about what’s going on and I just let it out. I don’t always need a resolution. Sometimes – many times – I just need a listening ear or someone I can commiserate with. It makes a world of difference.

Call “uncle” and say “no”. I realize that I’m only one person, and there’s only so much I can take. Just this week, I’ve had to call “uncle” and say, I can’t do it anymore. I raised my hand and said, I need help. Instead of allowing the “what if I’m perceived as weak” stop me from communicating my reality, I let those who could make a difference know that I needed help; that I was no longer smiling. And I finally started pushing back with direct answers… it’s said that it’s when I get to my breaking point that I finally truly discover the “I don’t care” gene and begin saying “no,” but at least I start saying it.

I cry. Just like needing to let it out verbally, there are times I just need to cry. Bottling the stuff up isn’t healthy…and trying to “be strong” is killing you…maybe more literally than you think. I’ve been known as a cry baby pretty much my entire life. Why should that change now. Crying is a way to express an emotion…and since I’m emotional…enough said.

I dance. I LOVE to dance, and I don’t look to dance as just a form of performance. I connect emotionally to the dances that I do. Hip hop, lyrical, praise dance are all forms of dance I love to do to release stress. I don’t need a dance studio or mirrors. The only things I use is music, some speakers, and me, myself, and I. And it’s on. Tamia’s Stranger in my House has seen its fair share of imperfect dance routines.

Humor works. I’ve watched stand-up on Netflix as a way to eliminate loneliness (wow that sounded really desperate) and release stress. I’m also a self-proclaimed comedienne…and may be a bit funnier when I’m angry. Many times, laughing is the alternative to crying. And boy can I produce a laugh. So either take in a laugh or produce a laugh. Either way, just laugh.

I pray. Times of stress, anxiety and depression can be some of the hardest times to pray. The good news is that you don’t need say a long prayer. A simple “God help me” works and may be all you can muster up.

I find other people to be around. I find a friend, a guy person of interest, or my family to be around. Though I’ve known this for years, I recommend the book Play It Away for more details around this.

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