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8 Weird Ways to Relieve Stress

Stupid question of the day: is anyone else a little stressed out?  Anybody’s eyeballs bugging just a little too far out of your face?  Are your usual tactics for stress relief failing miserably?  Me, freaking, too.

As a theatre major in college, I worked in the costume shop.  This was fabulous, for several reasons.  First, it was my favorite place on campus.  Second, I got paid to make costumes and learn things that I needed for my major.  Third, I completely adored my costume design professor and the buzz of people in and out of the shop all day while I stitched my fingers to oblivion.

If you’ve ever been involved in theatre, you know that opening week is insane.  All of a sudden, the steady hum of work becomes a race to get everything done before the curtain goes up.  With every fitting and dress rehearsal, our list grows longer.

In college, we blasted ABBA and Madonna as we sucked down coffee and worked through the lists of alterations and final details.  I loved those weeks.  One crazy show in particular, I’ll never forget my professor adding something to the list.  As I scanned for the next fabric emergency, my eyes caught the words “Run screaming out of the building.”

I can’t remember if it was number 11 or number 14, but about halfway down the list, there it was.  Run screaming out of the building.  We laughed and contemplated doing just that.

These days, with my sweet little crazies pushing my buttons every second and everyone needing a sandwich all at once – but not the same sandwich, no that would be too easy, one needs gluten-free crusts off, no chunks in the jelly, one hates peanut butter, and one adores peanut butter but cut it the right way or everyone will die die die – sometimes I think about that old costume shop list and laugh.

Our lives are wound so tight, aren’t they?  Sometimes I feel like I have to let out some of the pressure before I pop.  So.  In the spirit of my old costume shop, I made a list.  Here are 8 weird ways to relieve stress.

1. Run screaming out of the building.  When your kids are fighting and everyone is freaking out on you, throw your hands in the air, let out a good “AHHHH!” and run out the back door.  I mean, you can run out the front door, but don’t blame me if your neighbors think you’re nuts.

2. Start dancing.  Throw on C+C Music Factory or Madonna and “Everybody Dance Now” on a “Holiday.”  Finally nail the Running Man in your kitchen, or try to dance like Elaine from Seinfeld.

3. Give your kids instructions like an opera singer.  “To-DAAAYY you must go do your HOOMMME-WORRRRK!”

4. Bend over and let your arms flop down over your head and your fingers graze the floor.  I do this a lot.  I can have whole conversations from this position.

5. Start laughing.  When things are getting heated and everyone is talking at you at once and they start to fight about whose turn it is to talk, just make yourself start laughing.  The first few seconds will feel forced, but then you can ease into an actual laugh.  My kids have differing reactions when I do this.  Usually at least one is indignant, and the others start laughing, too.  It’s good to follow this one with #2 on the list.

6. Bury your head in a pillow on the couch.  When I do this, I end up at the bottom of a pile-on, with children readjusting my spine using their butts.  It’s good to leave yourself a breathe-hole, because you might not be getting up for awhile and could suffocate in the pillow.  But hey, at least you’re lying down.

7. Pray out loud.  I usually just start thanking God for everything.  Thank You for the hope that You offer, thank You that we can trust You, thank You for school and that my kids get to learn, thank You for loving us all the time no matter what, thank You for Rainbow Nerds…

8. Do 20 jumping jacks.  This is my go-to way to re-boot a situation.  When my kids get unbelievably sassy, say mean things, can’t keep their hands to themselves, or go overboard with the whining, I make them do jumping jacks.  By about ten, they are giggling, and so am I, because they go from looking like little mouthy monsters to adorable precious children.  Usually if one gets jacks, the others join in and I end up with a kitchen full of jumping gigglers.  And I decide to stick it out one more day, this beautiful thing called parenting.

So go forth and de-stress with abandon, all you weirdos.  I think I’ll start with #3.