Therapeutic activities (that aren’t meditation)
By Kennedy Bashaw, Contributor
If you wear your heart on your sleeve and there’s no hiding when you’re feeling stressed out, you’re probably a little sick of the, “Have you tried meditation?” response. Don’t get me wrong, meditation is great. It’s a practice I personally like to incorporate into my routine (when I happen to remember to). However, I know it’s not something everyone can get behind. Maybe you have trouble sitting still, or whenever you try and focus on your breathing your mind ends up wandering to whatever assignment you’ve been procrastinating the past week. Regardless, even if the act of classic meditation doesn’t cut it, its basic calming aspects can still be found in many other things.
Any mindful activity can still help you reap many of meditation’s benefits, as long as it’s something that you nd enjoyable and are able to (at least mostly) focus on. They might not always be “productive” in the traditional sense, but the purpose is more to act as a coping mechanism for when you need it. Though if you ask me, anything done to take care of your mental health is time well spent. These are a few methods that I personally like to utilize when I’m stressed out of my mind, and seem to be a lot more effective than binging The Office for the seventh time.
Obviously it takes a lot of practice to be able to create complex stitched masterpieces, but for someone who just wants to take on a new relaxing hobby, the basics of embroidery are surprisingly simple. Embroidery needles and thread are pretty easy to find at any dollar store, hoops are sold at craft stores for just a couple of dollars and you can use an old t-shirt for fabric. There are hundreds of tutorials online that can teach you beginner stitches and simple designs. Even if you’re not an artist, don’t be afraid to give this a go. The repetitive motions of stitching and colours of the thread can pull you right into a meditative state. A really great way to approach this art form is to stitch the words of a mantra or quote that you find particularly positive. Just be careful – many an hour can be wasted looking at incredible embroidered art on Pinterest.
House plant care
Plant parenthood is trendy, and for very good reason. Everyone knows that having plants around is great for your mental and physical health. It improves the air quality of your home, which can only be a good thing when you need to take a few deep breaths at the end of a hard day. It’s also especially nice to have something green to look at during a Calgary winter. Additionally, the actual act of caring for your leafy children can be a great addition to any self-care routine. Spend a little time researching the specific care needs of your plants, create a watering and feeding schedule and track this care either in your phone or in a journal. Pay attention to how well each plant does in speci c light, and how the leaves perk up after a good watering. If you’re particularly artistic, you can find second-hand pots at thrift stores and paint them to match the aesthetic of your home. If you show love to your plants, they’ll show love back to you. That in itself is incredibly therapeutic.
Organize something (small)
If you’re someone who takes pleasure in seeing things looking neat and orderly, especially if you have more of a type A personality, this might be extremely relaxing for you. I’m not telling you to overwhelm yourself and try to Marie Kondo your entire closet in one night. Believe me, that does not go down well when you’re already anxious. Just pick something small, like arranging one shelf on your bookshelf by colour, emptying your bag out and throwing away the forgotten granola bar wrappers or putting all the loose hair ties floating around your bathroom in one specific spot. The actual act of organizing can be very meditative for a lot of people, especially if you’re able to shut out other distractions and just be mindful of the task at hand. Additionally, completing a small task can leave you feeling a little more refreshed, accomplished and less scatter-brained, especially if it doesn’t require a whole lot of energy.
Baking something new
The obvious benefit of this: it results in delicious home-baked goods. Other than that, you can approach baking in a way that you think would be most enjoyable and relaxing for you personally. If you prefer having clear instructions, follow a recipe exactly and measure out each ingredient perfectly. If you want a little more creative freedom, you can experiment with flavours and proportions. Either way, use your physical senses to turn your time in the kitchen into a meditative experience. Focus on the textures and colours of the ingredients while assembling the dough or batter. Enjoy the incredible smell during the actual baking process. When you finally get to enjoy your creation, take in every flavour. Activities that allow you to pay attention to your senses are incredibly grounding. And of course, you deserve to treat yourself.