Face it, the world can feel like a tough place. Between politics, workplace stress, family life, and other factors, sometimes it gets us down. When it all starts to get heavy, we all need a good de-stress method. Lucky for you, we rounded up a few of the best ways to escape reality, at least for a little while.
1. Discover your place in the universe by stargazing
Reddit user Rubics123 said they find peace in the stars. “I walk to a random field and lay down and look up. After some hours of silence, I’m ready to take on another day,” they said. You might not have a few hours to dedicate, but nature can really hit your reset button. In addition, a recent report from Natural England found that nature-based activities can help reduce levels of anxiety, stress, and depression. Get outside. Your brain will love it.
Next: Use this media to get outside your life for a bit.
2. Escape the real world with fantasy
Fantasy books, television shows, and movies can get you outside reality — and your own head — for as long as you immerse yourself. Redditor Hangman401 explained, “After awhile, you start to feel like you’ve lived multiple lifetimes, like you’ve fallen in love more times than you can count, that you’ve experienced grief more times than you’d ever like, to experience these facets of life never thought possible. It’s amazing.” No idea where to start? Here’s a good list.
Next: This next idea will keep your brain and hands busy.
3. Turn off your brain with mindless activities
Reddit user Oops_I_Derped likes to put on headphones and color or make art, and the time just flies by. Experts agree that coloring or other acts of creation really do help de-stress. When coloring, we activate different areas of our two cerebral hemispheres, psychologist Gloria Martínez Ayala told The Huffington Post.
“The action involves both logic, by which we color forms, and creativity, when mixing and matching colors. This incorporates the areas of the cerebral cortex involved in vision and fine motor skills [coordination necessary to make small, precise movements],” she explained. “The relaxation that it provides lowers the activity of the amygdala, a basic part of our brain involved in controlling emotion that is affected by stress.”
Next: Many of us already know how effective the following idea can be.
4. Music can take you somewhere else
Redditor Cheetosnfritos loves using Spotify to find new music and getting lost in the world it creates. Researchers from the American Psychological Association have found that music helps both physical and mental problems, from improving recovery time after surgery to helping with anxiety. In a meta-analysis of 400 studies, researchers discovered that music improves the body’s immune system function and reduces stress. Listening to music also ranked as more effective than prescription drugs in reducing anxiety before surgery. Even if you feel a little stressed out, turn on some tunes. Bonus: Dancing it out can get your body in shape too!
Next: This technology will help you explore different worlds.
5. Virtual Reality takes you right out of the world
Redditor Xavendeir uses VR for getting out of reality and into a different headspace. While VR games allow users to immerse themselves in different worlds and experiences, it can have measurable stress-reducing properties, as well.
A research review published in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry measured results of VR in dealing with post-traumatic stress and anxiety. Lead author Jessica L. Maples-Keller, Ph.D., called virtual reality “a potentially powerful tool for the psychiatric community.” She noted that “it allows providers to create computer-generated environments in a controlled setting, which can be used to create a sense of presence and immersion in the feared environment for individuals suffering from anxiety disorders.” Whether you have a diagnosed disorder or not, VR can provide an amazing escape from your day-to-day.
Next: If you want to get productive and zone out, try the following tip.
6. Lose yourself in a task that needs doing
“I like fixing things that I’ve been meaning to get around to, and seeing it completed is a very solid accomplishment,” said Redditor Whiffypants. “At minimum, you’re creating a better immediate environment for yourself … even if what’s really bothering you cannot be changed or fixed.” In addition, researchers know that de-cluttering and accomplishing tasks like cleaning up the house provides measurable benefits. Those range from better eating habits, sleep, to productivity. Go ahead, spend all day organizing the spice cabinet. It helps more than just your cooking process.
Next: This close cousin to acting helps you inhabit a totally different world for awhile.
7. Live Action Role-Playing helps you play a new part in society
Baconated-grapefruit uses LARPing to get out of the world for awhile. “I dress up as a quasi-medieval character and drink mead around a campfire with my friends,” they said. “Then we march to war, clobber some ‘orcs’ with rubber-padded axes, sing about it, and get back to the mead-drinking. Returning to reality afterwards is tricky.” If you want to try getting into the game yourself, larping.org offers some handy tips and tricks.
Next: Give this a try next time you need to get outside yourself.
8. Make art, not worries
Studies show that making art — whether that means sculpting, drawing, painting, or making a collage — provides a great way to get out of the world for awhile. Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association published a study that found 45 minutes of creative activity significantly lessens stress in the body, regardless of artistic experience or talent. Grab some supplies and get creating. You will be amazed how time flies by.
Next: This centuries-old technique lasted this long for a good reason.
9. Try meditation to center your mind
For centuries, humans have used meditation to center their minds and become at peace with the world and their place in it. Even meditating for just a few minutes a day can help put your life in perspective. If you have no idea where to start, Mindful.org provides a wealth of resources. If you want to get techy with it, a slew of apps exist to help, too.
Next: Grab your gym gear and some good tunes for the next de-stressor.
10. Get your sweat on and get out of your head
Have you ever reached the fabled “runner’s high?” If you have, you know how well exercise gets you outside the world for a little while. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, exercise can help boost endorphins and at the very least, distract you from your troubles. Scientists found that regular aerobic exercise decreases levels of tension, elevates and stabilizes mood, improves sleep, and boosts self-esteem. Even five minutes of aerobic exercise can help, so lace up those sneakers!
Next: If you have a car, you may already know this awesome idea.
11. Take a drive to clear your head
Reddit user Pwnderous gets behind the wheel for a relaxing drive. “I live for twisty mountain roads.,” they said. “After going out for a late-night cruise, I feel refreshed and clear headed.” Experts agree on the benefits of driving for relaxation, according to Men’s Health. “Going out for a drive lets us reflect and come back with greater insights,” said Eric Klinenberg, a professor of sociology at New York University. “There’s something about being in the driver’s seat—with the sense of control it affords—that lets you think productively and solve problems.” We think we hear the open road calling.
Next: If you ever wonder why you feel so good after a comedy, let us solve that for you.
12. A good belly laugh can do wonders
“Laughter is a form of medicine,” Redditor Toriyab pointed out. “More and more, we are learning that being happy has a positive impact on our physical and mental health. And there is no quicker way to feel happy than to have a laugh.” Pop in a funny movie, call a friend, or go see some live comedy if you can. Helpguide.org notes the benefits of laughter range widely. It releases feel-good endorphins, increases blood flow, releases tension, and may even help you live longer. So go ahead, binge that comedy. It’s good for you.
Next: Fans, rejoice! Your sports habit offers this measurable benefit.
13. Sports give players and spectators something else to focus on
Reddit user Zazzlekdazzle knows the stress-relieving properties of a good game. “If my [team]has a good match, the next day, a bus could splash me head to toe with a filthy curb puddle on the way to work, I could sit through interminable meetings, I could find out a big project of mine was scotched, and I would still have a smile on my face,” they wrote.
Science backs up those benefits. According to Medical Daily, our brains feel like we’re really on the field when we watch a game thanks to mirror neurons. “This phenomenon allows a feeling of connection, and community without verbal communication or the need to directly talk to the pro athlete who just won the World Series with a grand slam,” Dr. Jesse Hanson said. While die-hard fans can actually suffer negative health effects when their teams lose, the rush of winning makes it worth it. But you already knew that.
Next: Get in the kitchen to reap the benefits of this stress-buster.
14. Cook up something tasty
A study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that small, everyday things like cooking and baking made the group feel more enthusiastic about things they had to do the next day, according to Munchies. In addition, Cooking and baking have long track records as a form of behavioral therapy to help improve mental health.
Measuring out ingredients and following recipes can alleviate disorders like ADHD and reduce anxiety, some experts found. Because cooking and baking requires laser concentration, just try worrying about the outside world. Besides, you end up with a tasty treat!
Next: If none of these work, get out the digital comfort blanket.
15. When all else fails, familiar media helps
We all love to cuddle up with our favorite show when we get sick or have a really bad day. Sometimes, no substitute exists for turning on the tube and hanging out with old digital friends. With so much new and exciting in the world, you may also feel guilty turning to standbys, but never fear. You do not have to keep up with the Joneses, especially when it comes to self-care.
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