Mon. Aug 8th, 2022

It’s been a stressful few years. We’ve all been through pandemics (plural!), political turmoil, economic horrific – you name it. Not to mention the normal pressures of work and family. So how are you coping?

We asked the staff of The edge to let us know how they deal with the anxiety and pressures of life in today’s world (including having to write about these issues on a daily basis). We got all kinds of answers, ranging from running and meditating to weeding and making chainmail.

In other words, here’s how some of us get on here The edge relieve our stress. Perhaps one of these will work for you – or you can let us know which strategies have worked for you.

In the garden

Becca in her garden
Becca sees a garden growing.
Photo Courtesy: Becca Farsace

There is absolutely nothing better than eating the first tomato you’ve ever grown. Not only will it be the sweetest, freshest tomato you’ve ever eaten, but it will also be the product of months of watching something grow and grow and grow.

I love gardening (à la Oprah “I love bread”) and for the fourth year in a row I have planted eggplants, tomatoes, garlic and a whole host of herbs in my small backyard in Brooklyn. In fact, my garden is the main reason I can’t work from home. I will spend all day there, obsessed with my magical green fortress. And while I think most people look at plants and see a green thing destined for a dry death, my experience has taught me that all it takes to grow a thriving garden is YouTube videos and water. giving is. I’m not kidding – Plant Tube has you covered, and I’ve found that weeding my yard often allows me to weed my ghost too. — Becca Farsace, senior producer

We rent a small terraced house with a very small garden in front of it. (When I say small, I mean two pieces of dirt, each about the size of a typical NYC bathroom.) Since I’ve never had the patience to deal with planting, watering, and mowing grass, I’ve recently uprooted the grass and other weeds that grew there and tried to plant some sprigs of ivy in hopes that they would grow, thrive and be easy to maintain, but nice to look at as cover.

Well, it’s the middle of summer and the ground is indeed covered – not with the ivy (doing its best) but with weeds. Lots of weeds, all of which appear like magic about five minutes after it starts to rain. Pain in the neck, right? But oddly enough, I’ve found that the process of going out and weeding to clear the way for the ivy to grow is quite satisfying. I’m doing something that (a) needs to be done, (b) doesn’t require any real brainpower (apart from what it takes to tell a weed from an ivy plant), and (c) helps me release a little steam through that pulling bloody weeds out of the ground. Great therapy, all told. — Barbara Krasnoff, review editor

chain mail

Wrist with chainmail bracelet
Kaitlin’s chainmail bracelet is soothing to make and fun to wear.
Photo Courtesy: Kaitlin Hatton

There is no normal way for me to introduce my stress-relieving hobby, so I won’t even try. I recently started making chain mail jewelry and clothing. Yes, chainmail, like knights and other warriors used for protection in Ye Olden Days. I can honestly say I haven’t been this relaxed in years.

This hobby falls into the larger category of Making Things, whether it’s jewelry or clothing in general, but there’s something about the patience it takes to design chain mail that allays my worries. I enter an almost meditative state as I work on the patterns, and it feels good to see the progress I’m making as I go. I started with a kit from Chainmail Joe before I completely mapped out my designs. I’ve only been working on this for a few weeks and I’ve already made so much jewelry. But now I’m approaching my first chainmail – also just in time for the Renaissance fair. It takes an absurd amount of hours to make metal clothes, I’ve learned, but the time passes quickly because it’s so relaxing. — Kaitlin Hatton, audience manager

Move and meditate

Victoria Song in the NYC Marathon
Victoria in the NYC Marathon.
Photo: Zlata Ivleva

In times of great stress, exercise is the only thing that really helps me. For me that mainly means running, but any form of exercise works. Yoga, strength training, rowing, a nice long walk, a weekend hike, swimming in a pool – just anything that forces me outside of my overactive brain and into my body. I’ve never vibrated with meditation apps or guided breathing, but exercise itself is meditative. Your only real focus is the next mile, the next rep, or the next flow. It’s gratifying to see yourself getting stronger, and of course closing your rings gives you a dopamine boost.

The past three years have been the most stressful of my life, but all these exercises have put me in the best shape I’ve ever had. The 2020 elections? I ran 20 miles a week, lifted weights every other day, did 30 minutes of yoga in the morning, and took walks after dinner. After my mom died late last year, the main thing that kept me going was training for a half marathon. Every time I felt sad or overwhelmed, I could just run 10 miles. It didn’t end my grief, but it did give me a much-needed break from it.

I know a lot of people see exercise as a chore, but Elle Woods was right. Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy, and I don’t feel like killing my husband. — Victoria Song, reviewer

My favorite way to relax, perhaps counterintuitively, is to go for a long run. Saturday mornings are sacred, I often run more than eight miles. My favorite route is a 10-mile trek that takes me on a local trail with an elevation gain of more than 1,300 feet, according to my iPhone’s Fitness app.

Whatever the distance, a long run gives me time and space to process what’s going on in my head, and if I have to focus on every step, I stay in the present. When I get home I may be exhausted, but usually I’m a lot less stressed than when I first stepped out the door. — Jay Peters, news writer

My go-to method for dealing with stress is to go completely offline. If I can, it means going for a walk. It doesn’t really matter if I’m just walking the dirt trail near my house or doing a seven-mile trek through my favorite trail system. Forcing myself to focus on walking and not on a screen or the internet does wonders for how overwhelmed I feel. And while I may still be concerned about whatever it is I’m stressed about, there are no Slack posts, tweets about horrible things, or anything else to add (either because I’m in an area with no service and can literally ‘ if I don’t see them or because I can’t check my phone without tripping over a tree trunk or rock).

Ironically, my other method of ignoring the internet is very high-tech – it involves strapping a VR headset to my face and playing Beat Saber. While I think my Quest 2 can technically access websites, they’re easy to ignore when the alternative is to do a little dance while brandishing laser swords. — Mitchell Clark, news writer

I’m out of the habit now, but I’ve used Headspace for meditation in the past and found it very approachable and adaptable. I’m way too apprehensive of the “sit and count breaths” style of meditation, so I love that Headspace has guided meditations that you can do while walking, riding public transport, or even cleaning. You can choose the length of time for your session, making it easy to fit in on a busy day. And of course, every day you meditate, you get the gamified excitement of extending your streak. It is definitely the app to try if you feel like a meditation mistake like I did. — Allison Johnson, reviewer

Although my colleagues have already touched on sports, I still feel compelled to share how much it also helps me with stress (if I don’t let laziness and sluggishness get the better of me). In particular, I recently discovered how much it helps me to stretch consistently every day. I found some stretching techniques and poses from @movementbydavid on Instagram, and it helped me build a new mini routine to work on some of my personal trouble spots. When I’m at my best, I build up these daily stretches with running and/or strength training at home. My routines are pretty simple, but they’re more than enough to get my muscles firing, and I always feel so much better afterwards. The euphoric state after training is real and it helps me to feel focused and in a better mood. It’s a great feeling to make improvements over time, and it’s especially great to get that good muscle feeling almost every day — as opposed to just feeling your muscles when there’s pain or stiffness.

I tell myself consistency is better than intensity, and if I do a good week of workouts, my stress levels are better controlled. — Antonio G. Di Benedetto, writer, trader

just say no

Calculator on fire, with
Stop doing what stresses you out.
Illustration by Alex Castro / Best Fitness Bands

Repeat after me: “I’m quitting.”

Another: “No.”

See, many of us want to make other people happy, and we overload ourselves and then worry about it. An easy way to get rid of so much stress is to stop doing things that make you stressed. That is undoubtedly what has happened recently! I think we called it The Great Resignation? Anyway, if Today in Tabs writer Rusty Foster likes to say, “You can always quit.”

Plus, you don’t have to say yes to things. You can tactfully say no, if you want to, but no often works just fine on its own.

So you need stress relief? Okay. What do you really need to do? What can you say no to? Leave the meditation and relaxation drinks to those who want to stay in the rat race. Give yourself more free time to daydream.

Oh, sure, you can be virtuous and hateful if you want to. But do you know who that is? actually Merry? Lollipop gaggers and refusers. — Elizabeth Lopatto, senior reporter

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