This week, stress was in the air. At work it was due to the visit from the executives and CEO of Frontier. Everyone was cleaning, straightening, making perfect. All in preparation for the visits from “the important people”. In the news it was due to the country’s current debt crisis.

In the light of national and corporate stress, I thought it would be a great opportunity to write a blog about some of the things that I’ve found are great cures for stress. Admittedly, my go-to stress relief has traditionally been medicinal (Xanax) or chemical (yay booze!), but there are great ways to feel calmer without resorting to those.

Find soothing scents. For a nice calming effect, I absolutely LOVE lavender. It’s soft, beautiful smell is an instant calmer for me. There are lots of ways to get a lavender fix. In my bedroom, I keep a lavender-scented spray handy (my favorite is actually a body spray from the Healing Garden). I spritz my pillow before climbing into bed. This quiets my nervous mind and helps me to drift off to sleep. I also love lavender bubble bath. Yankee candles makes a Lavender Vanilla candle that just smells so fabulous, so I like to light one and put it on the bathroom counter while I slip into a bath drawn with lavender-scented bubbles. I like to bring this relaxation to my commute, too: I recently discovered that Yankee also makes car air fresheners, and found one on clearance in the lavender vanilla scent I love. I put it in my car and I can really smell it when I get behind the wheel. It’s powerful enough that I always get a hint of it, yet not so overpowering that my allergies are affected. At work, I don’t really like to spray things, and there’s a strict policy against fire so I can’t burn candles. I still like my lavender, though. I keep a box of Traditional Medicinals Chamomile Lavender Tea in my desk drawer to brew during stressful moments. I’ve grown to associate the soothing, warm tea with calm and relaxation.

Play Relaxing Music. I have satellite radio in my car, and one of the best discoveries I’ve made is the Watercolors smooth jazz station. I adore this music, and it’s instantly relaxing to me. I recently started paying attention to artists I particularly like on the station and downloading albums to my iPod so I have soothing smooth jazz music at my desk at work, too.

Get a pedicure. Self-explanatory, really, but oh so fabulous. I go to Best Nails in Marysville. It doesn’t look like it would be much, but it’s a great place. For pedicures, they have oversized massage chairs to knead my back while I get my feet rubbed. The manicurists (pedicurists?) not only shape and paint my toenails, but they also exfoliate my feet and massage both my feet and my calves with a combination of exfoliant scrub and lotion. It’s relaxing and I always leave feeling awesome. For my Cali buddies, there’s a place called Euphoria in Apple Valley that exhibits similar awesomeness.

Hit the gym. Studies have proven that exercise is an excellent way to relieve stress. My favorite form of working out is to take Nancy McFadden’s Zumba classes. She’s awesome! (If you’d like class info, let me know). The upbeat dance music, the amazing people, and the tough-yet-doable workouts leave me feeling amazing. Any workout will do though. I usually spend my lunch hour at work in the gym. It’s not a hard workout, I just walk on the treadmill while listening to my iPod, but the exercise breaks up the monotony of my day and makes me feel better. I also strength train a few days a week to get muscle tone.

Write it down. When I’m feeling anxious, I’ll either write here in this blog or, if what I have to say is more private, in my journal. Writing things down gets them out of my mind so I’m not bottling things up, and helps me to analyze what exactly is bothering me.

Stay positive. Surround yourself with positive people. Anyone who makes me unhappy, stresses me out, or weighs me down with negativity is not someone I should have in my life. I’ve had to admit that certain friends were bad for me, and to put distance between them and myself. Even though it made me sad, I have to admit that those people were weighing me down and I’m better off without them.

Laugh. I’m lucky, I have coworkers (coworkers that are also good friends, even better!) with fabulous senses of humor that keep me in stitches all day. No matter how crazy our jobs are, we can make each other smile. They keep me from taking myself too seriously. Each time someone says something crazy and funny, I laugh and feel my stress slipping away.

These are just some of the ways that I relax myself when I feel anxiety creeping up. The world can get crazy and stressful, but doing the things I’ve listed above helps me to maintain some semblance of sanity and feel better about even the most nerve-wracking of days.

4th of July 2011

4th of July has always been one of my favorite holidays. I love the bbqs, the parties, the fireworks. Even though we lived in Washington last year, we took a whirlwind trip back to Cali to spend the holiday with our families and it was just like old times. This year, I was a little afraid that I’d be bummed out, since we’d be missing out on traditional fun. To make things even more glum, I’d caught a terrible cold and spent most of Saturday in bed.

I shouldn’t have worried, because Paul had it covered. On Sunday he bought tickets so we could go to the Mariners game. I absolutely love going to Safeco field for games. There’s just something about being at the ballpark, Safeco in particular, that is so refreshing and fun. I love our seats, with a great view of the game and also the city in the background. I love when trains go through and I can hear the whistle. I love the greasy, bad, delicious food. This time Paul and I discovered pulled pork bbq nachos. All they were, were cheap tortilla chips covered in pulled pork, cheese sauce, and bbq sauce. Paul and I got our grub on, and he said he could make a better version at home with pepperjack cheese and some better quality chips.

During the game, the sun came out and the weather was warm. By the end, we decided to forgo the bus ride and walk back to the car (we parked about a mile away to save money on downtown parking). I love walking in downtown Seattle. Just being in that city reminds me of how much I love living here. By the time we got to the car, I realized I definitely should have worn sunscreen, as I’d gotten rather fried in the sun. But when we left home, it had been cold and raining pretty hard, so I didn’t think of it.

After the game we went to Azteca, one of our favorite Mexican restaurants, for dinner. We each had a great dinner and a couple margaritas, then went across the street to the movie theater to relax. We saw “Bad Teacher”, which is raunchy yet hilarious. I love that Cameron Diaz looks so fresh-faced and innocent and yet says such naughty, naughty words.

Monday was the Fourth of July. The weather was beautiful, so we set out for a nice day drive in Paul’s convertible. He drove down to Mukilteo, and we took the ferry boat across to Whidbey Island. It’s a short crossing, but pleasant, with nice views of a park on the Mukilteo side and of beautiful homes on the beach on the Whidbey Island side. Once across, Paul drove up island to Deception Pass. There was a park with beach access, so we drove in and had a picnic lunch on the beach. Not suprisingly on a holiday weekend, the place was packed. I had a great time people watching and munching on the picnic we’d brought.

By the time we got home, I was exhausted and happy. I was in bed and asleep by eight-thirty, so for the first time in my memory I didn’t watch fireworks on the Fourth of July. But I don’t mind, because I had a great time over the weekend with Paul.

Now I’m counting down to my twenty-seventh birthday on the 14th! I’m kicking off the celebrating by going to Tacoma on Friday for a New Kids on the Block/Backstreet Boys concert with my aunt and cousins. I’m really excited about the show and about spending time with family. I can’t wait for Friday to get here!

The next week is going to be amazing!