#11 - The Fun French Way to Relieve Stress and Anxiety

Stress & anxiety.

We all feel them.

Yet the biggest mistake we make is suppressing the emotions and pretending we don’t feel them at all.

Pretending that everything is going great and perfect.

And even if we are feeling authentic enough to share the difficulties we face, we tend to leave out how much stress and anxiety we are really feeling.

Like a hidden sludge or cloud we drag around with us throughout our days.

But the more we run from it, the larger it becomes.

It’s time to stop running.

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physiological effects of stress relief and laughter

Stress and anxiety lead to so much tension and they actually hinder our ability to creatively find the very solutions and answers you’ve been looking for.

But the physiological benefits of learning to relief stress (and laughing – which we’ll talk about later) are:

  • A surge of oxygen through the bloodstream which reduces blood pressure.
  • An increase in blood flow and added protection against heart attack and cardiovascular problems.
  • Reduction in pain and reduction in blood sugar levels (even in diabetics).
  • Relieves tension and relaxes muscles even up to 45 minutes after (laughter).
  • Actually burns calories and helps your body let go of what it’s been holding on to.

But there are other benefits as well. If we look at the COLORS model, hanging onto stress and anxiety leads you to respond to situations in a way that will not actually help you see the results you want.

how to recognize stress and anxiety

The French are masters at living lives with minimal stress – a far different lifestyle from the typical North American. However, that absolutely doesn’t mean that they don’t feel – or never do feel stress.

They do! But their response is very different.

  1. Recognize what stress and anxiety look like and feel like for you.
  2. Step away from whatever activity it is that is leading to an increase in your stress and tension. Even if you need to take a “mental health” day off from work, find someone to watch your kids so you can take a break, or create some space for yourself.
  3. Reconnect with loved ones, self, or nature.
  4. Learn to Laugh again.

the french way to relieve stress

The French reconnect in 3 different ways.

The first is connecting with friends or family members. It is not uncommon to see French women (or men) meeting up with friends for lunch or dinner.

This is also true for mothers! On our last trip to France just 3 weeks ago, we regularly saw moms with their children at cafe’s and restaurants for lunch. We also ran across many mothers with young babies strapped to them out to dinner with their friends.

What a stark contrast from American culture where moms seem to lock themselves in their homes after a new baby.

Another way the French know how to reconnect is with themselves. They have this incredible self-respect that allows them to check in with who they are, what they value, what lights them up, and the things that are uniquely them.

And it’s not labelled as “selfish” to know their existence outside of the titles of what they do (mom of #, wife, employee, entrepreneur, etc).

Finally, the French know how to reconnect with nature. They’ll take time to walk where they need to go, take a leisurely stroll, read a good book underneath a tree in the park.

There are so many ways one can reconnect with the natural slower pace and simplicity of what life is.

And finally, a lesson from my college days: Laughter. It heals your body and heals your soul. It reconnects you to others more quickly than so many other things.

So why is this so important? Because learning to reconnect in these ways allows you to use your amazing creative powers to find the very solutions you were frustrated about in the first place. The things you didn’t even know were possible for you.

fun stress relieving activities

Unfortunately, I can’t answer this for you. It has to come from you. Look for the places where your mind and body can both be present. Where your concept of time seems to disappear. Where you can just BE in a moment.

Those are the activities that will be stress relieving for you.

How can you find these activites?

Start with making a list of things you know you like to do (or things you once liked to do.

Then make a list of things you want to try out. Those new things you haven’t done before but want to.

Finally, make sure to write down the things that you know don’t work for you. Those activities that aren’t motivating, exciting, relaxing, and energizing. For me personally, this is TV watching, crafting, or cooking. Your list doesn’t have to look the same. 

The key is to really make sure you pay attention to your body + mind. They’ll tell you what!

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