Under Pressure   8 comments

Blog Hop Topic – How do you relieve stress?

First, I highly recommend that you check out PJ MacLayne’s website to see how she relieves stress and books for some great reads, which may be the ultimate answer to relieving stress.

Wow! Stress is a big topic. And this novelist relieves stress by … writing.

Okay, that was really easy. So easy that you might think I’ve not had a lot of stress in my life. You’d be wrong. I’ve earned my scar tissue. There are some people who would apply the label “tough cookie” to me and I’d wear that badge proudly, knowing that I had thoroughly earned it. I’ve been there, done that, and used the t-shirt as a tourniquet.

And, no, I’m not going to tell you about it. You can read my novels and decide when I’m being authentic.

The truth is there is nothing like creating a fictional world or setting and working out your stress there. I can blow up countries, punch bullies in the mouth, create solutions that actually work or … just go somewhere that is far away from my reality. Sometimes I work through forgiveness and redemption in my novels and other times I just kill the bastard … or torture him-her. Writing is also often where I am the closest to God, where I can hear His voice most clearly and follow His guidance most directly. I can also be my most human there, in that fictional world where I don’t have the face the consequences of my own impulses, but can let God correct me through my characters.

I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a stressful day of writing (formatting is NOT writing), but writers should live some life if we want something to write about, so I do take breaks. Hiking the Alaska wilderness isn’t exactly stress-free. There are dragons in those woods — well, okay, moose and bears — and even on a hot sunny June day, the weather can turn on a dime, drop 70 degrees and make you wish you’d never left home. We risk our lives heading into the wilderness, which might seem stressful to people who have never done it. When we return, we’re recharged and ready to face life again … or write a novel.
Listening to music and dancing to it, taking hot baths, sitting by the wood stove reading someone else’s novel while hearing the fire crackle, pop and sizzle, chopping firewood to feed that wood stove, watching series on Netflix, walking on the treadmill, singing gospel music at the top of my lungs where nobody else can hear me, throwing a stick for the Lab preferably in a fast moving body of water, washing walls …. Yeah, washing walls — anything mindless and physical is often one of the greatest ways to reduce and remove stress. It gives you something else to concentrate on while also allowing you to confront your thoughts. In some ways, it is an old-fashioned version of EMDR (you can google that). Try it sometime and see how it works for you. But if you’re a writer … you could just work it out in a story.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man, but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above what you are able” (I Corinthians 10:13).

If I put myself in the right place to listen to God, He really takes care of my stress for me, even when my life circumstances are still in turmoil.

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8 responses to “Under Pressure

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  1. Cleaning house can be a great way to relieve stress! (As long as I don’t have to do it everyday.)

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    • Yeah, I’m not into housework myself, though it does need to be done from time to time. But there is something about mindless physical activity that provides a sense of accomplishment that reduces stress. Working out does it too, but when the walls are clean and you’re sitting on the couch enjoying them — stress just melts away.

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  2. I had fun writing one of my most cruel characters because her outbursts were cathartic. I understand the use of creating alternate worlds to pour your not-so-nice emotions into. Wallah, no stress.

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  3. Nice post. I like how you relieve stress. Sitting in a hot bath, glass of wine and a good book and I’m in heaven.

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  4. Great post! You are so right about the cathartic effect of writing! My scriptures also comfort me. Thanks for sharing!

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