My stress is usually triggered by sensory overload and unpredictability - when I have a lot of activity around me and I am unable to predict what is going to happen. This is one of the main reasons that I have never enjoyed going to night clubs. The loud noises, flashing lights, crowded spaces, cramped movement...the combination produces an environment that is very unpredictable and very overwhelming. Sometimes even family parties can have this effect on me, as well as going out to restaurants. I have even had to leave a movie because the bass was so loud that it was vibrating in my chest, and it triggered a panic attack. It's also, most unfortunately, why I refrain from visiting a lot of you. I miss you guys, absolutely, but the idea of going several hours away, to a completely new environment that I am unaccustomed to, scares me quite a bit.
So, to make myself feel calm and relax, I look for spaces and situations that are predictable and quiet. I enjoy sitting at home, where I know my environment well. I enjoy the quiet because there isn't anything to concentrate on. When I am at a family party and I feel some anxiety coming on, I duck away into the bathroom for a few minutes. There, it's quiet, and I can regroup and tell myself, "Okay, this is what you're going to see when you leave again..." I prefer hanging out with friends at someone's house instead of out on the town somewhere. That way we can just sit and talk.
There are more specific techniques that I use, too, when I'm just feeling generally stressed and not necessarily anxious. For example, I love a good bubble bath. Bath and Body Works has a fairly new scent line out called Eucalyptus Spearmint, and it's a stress relief scent. I have used the body wash and foam bath before, and to my surprise, it actually works! I never used to believe in "natural" or "herbal" cures and remedies, but this stuff seems to do the trick. The foam bath makes the water feel like it's actually nourishing my skin, like I'm wrapped in a blanket instead of just water. Warm water has always had a calming effect on me by itself, but this stuff makes it even more relaxing. Related to this is swimming. Although the water is cool instead of warm, I love feeling weightless, and yet I'm still working out! It's a wonderful thing.
And speaking of blankets, I have a minor addiction to wrapping myself in them. Feeling warm and comfortable are the best anti-stress feelings for me, and blankies do both, especially if they're made out of fleece or fuzzy fabric =)
To accompany the blankie, I love to cuddle up with one of my lap-pets. Oscar and Blitzie are especially helpful in helping anxiety melt away. Both of them are usually willing to take a nice long nap with me, and I usually feel much better when I wake up again. They don't appreciate it, though =P
I'm sure you guys could probably guess some of the other relaxing activities I enjoy: drawing, reading, writing, watching TV or a movie, etc. I escape into a world where my troubles don't exist, and it makes it easier to deal with them when I come out of those worlds and face the scary world of reality. I'm in a bit of a nerd heaven right now with all the good TV that's out: Once Upon a Time, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Sleepy Hollow. Plus Thor 2: The Dark World and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug are hitting theatres within the next couple of months.
But, honestly, the most useful de-stressing technique I discovered is one that I don't get to use as much as I would like: hanging out with you guys. I know you all probably don't realize this, but you are the first real friends I've ever had, and just being with all of you made me feel so much more comfortable. Now, with all of you several hours away, I find myself feeling more and more alone. I don't know why it's so difficult for us to keep in touch, with all the modern technology at our fingertips. Maybe I'm just scared that we're drifting, and talking to you guys would mean facing that reality. I could go on for a lot longer about this, but I won't. It's supposed to be an anti-stress post, after all. But yeah, that's one of my best relaxation techniques.
As always, I love you guys, and I miss you. I can't wait to read the rest of your posts.