April 16th – the day after Tax Day – is National Stress Awareness Day, and while psychologists will tell you to deep breathe and talk about your mother, here are some tips to relieve stress that are slightly more offbeat. The best part? These tips don’t cost you $100 dollars an hour, just a few clicks. And sure, we might not be “licensed” therapists, but that won’t really matter when we’re accepting the Nobel Peace Prize for cleansing the world of discord with these nine offbeat ways to relieve stress.
This is what is known as operant conditioning. Basically, every time you feel stressed out, do something that hurts. Eventually, your brain will actually rewire itself to avoid feeling stressed out because it will associate it with painful consequences. Don’t go overboard and hammer nails into the palms of your hand or anything. Just flick yourself with a rubber band, or pluck your pubes. I don’t know, whatever works for you, man.
Yeah, this is an actual thing. It’s way too convoluted to get into here without this turning into a novella, but basically it’s not that different from meditation. You put yourself into as relaxed a state as possible and then there are code-words and key phrases, floating sensations, “oases of purity and cleanliness,” and a bunch of other crazy shit that sounds sort of like mystic bondage crossed with a séance. In the end, you’ll be too focused on acting like some new-agey asshole to remember that you were stressed out. Or you can just drop acid like you used to do in your parents’ garage. Either way.
7. Bubble Wrap
Who knows why this works? It just does. All you’ve got to do is give a gentle squeeze and wait for the pop. Admit it, just thinking about doing this is making you feel less stressed out right now. Frankly, we should just send bubble wrap to all our enemies, maybe drop it from planes at the front lines. Everyone would be too busy staring slackjawed and popping one bubble at a time to care about anything else.
6. Take a Nap
Hey, we didn’t say that these would be complicated. And nothing’s less complicated than just saying to hell with it, rolling over and going back to sleep. Sure, you might not be able to get a lot done, but you can always make up the time later, especially since you’ll be so well-rested. In the meantime, just remember that drooling all over your couch cushions feels a hell of a lot better than grinding your teeth, sweating and wondering whether you’re about to have a stress-related heart attack or just have really bad gas.
5. Eat a Banana
Bananas are high in potassium. Potassium helps regulate blood pressure, your heartbeat and the oxygen levels in your poor, overheated brain. When you get stressed out, your metabolism rises and your potassium levels go down. Do the math. Plus, who else eats bananas in bulk? That’s right, monkeys. What does that have to do with anything? I don’t know, I just wanted you to imagine monkeys eating bananas, because it’s scientifically impossible to picture that and stay stressed out. You’re welcome.
4. Go to the Zoo
Speaking of monkeys, why stop with just imagining them? Go to the zoo and spend the day pointing and laughing at nature’s clowns. Sure, it might be undignified for them, but you’re stressed out and if that means a bunch of animals have to be shot with tranquilizer darts and then stuffed in cages just so you can feel better for a couple of hours, then so be it. If they didn’t want it to happen, I guess they should have grown opposable thumbs and taken some classes at the shooting range.
3. Go to a Shooting Range
Unlike those poor monkeys, you do have opposable thumbs, and what better way to use them than by shooting at shit all day long? I mean, why else would we have them? Evolution demands it. Sure, people get squeamish about guns, but that’s their problem. Your problem is that you’re stressed out and you need to blow off some steam by blowing away clay pigeons and targets made up to look like people. Nobody said it had to make sense or that it was an elegant solution. It’s brutish and it taps into something primal, but hey, when you’re stressed out, sometimes the best solutions – hell, sometimes the only solutions – are primal.
2. Smash Something
It doesn’t get much more primal than just straight up smashing something. Yeah, it’s destructive, but you will feel better. I mean, be reasonable, don’t go all Hulk Smash on your neighbor’s car or dropkick your crying baby through a plate glass window, but if you need to play tee-ball with some old dishes or something in the back yard, you aren’t hurting anyone. Get creative. Buy a punching bag and tap into your inner Bruce Lee. Chop some wood. Buy a new alarm clock and then take the old one out back and beat on it like Joe Pesci in Casino. Let your stress flow through something instead of being all locked up inside of you with nowhere to go.
Like I said, the best solutions are often the most primal solutions. I shouldn’t even have to explain this one to you. If I do, then stress is the least of your problems. I mean, don’t turn into some sort of slobbering sex pest, but at the very least, you could fire one off in the shower before a big meeting. Just make sure you don’t get mixed up and fire one off at your meeting, or else you’re going to have a whole new list of things to be stressed about, and I don’t think I’ll be able to help you with that kind of stress. Monkeys, guns and sex only go so far.