Ways to De-Stress If You Hate Meditating

Meditation appears to be the modern world’s answer to all of life’s problems. Can’t sleep? Meditate. Feeling anxious? Meditate. Getting angry while trying to meditate? Meditate.

Which leads me to ask the question: what does one actually do at times of stress when they hate meditating as much as I do? My brain is busy at the best of times, so being told to sit in a room with my eyes closed not thinking about anything is the last thing I tend to go for in my search for inner peace. Alarmingly, when typing ‘ways to de-stress without meditating’ into Google, the search engine helpfully suggested ‘ways to de-stress without medication’. Which seems sadly prophetic given that the NHS is prescribing a record number of anti-depressants right now. Surely there is a halfway house somewhere between meditation and medication for those of us who just need a little help quieting an overly active brain sometimes?

So, I went in search of some alternative options to help myself – and anyone else who can’t get on board with the Headspace app – unwind. 

Find your flow

It is a truth universally acknowledged that most adults can talk for hours about their job but fall into a blind panic when asked what they do for fun. Which is pretty sad. Away from work, ensure you make time for activities you really love. Challenge yourself to go back to something you used to enjoy in childhood – whether that’s writing, drawing or doing a team sport. When we are utterly absorbed in something, it facilitates something known as a flow state in our brains. Our brainwaves are even affected – switching from the beta waves experienced in things like arbitrary work tasks or conversation, to alpha – which are, incidentally, the brainwaves people aim to experience during meditation. Did we just cheat our way to a kind of meditation? I think we did…

Embrace yoga

Lots of people lump yoga and meditation into the same things-others-seem-to-enjoy-but-I-will-never-understand category. However, take it from me, the two can definitely co-exist. Yoga is such a varied discipline that I challenge anyone to give a few different styles a go and not end up finding one they love. For me, it’s Vinyasa Flow. It’s dynamic enough to stop me getting bored after ten minutes of ‘thinking about my breathing’ (no offence if you love that stuff, it’s just not for me) and, when I do it regularly, I definitely feel lighter – both in body and mind. Plus, if you didn’t take a photo of yourself in tree pose on holiday, did you even go on holiday?

Spend time outside

This is a big one for me. When I worked in the city, I found myself craving the familiar countryside back home more than ever. Being immersed in nature just does something to the soul. The Japanese even have a term for it: shinrin-yoku, which literally translates to the medicine of being in the forest. Some of the proven benefits of extended time spent outside include: reduced blood pressure, reduced stress, improved mood and increased ability to focus – plus so much more. So, wrap up, put on some walking boots and get lost somewhere away from those nagging work emails, day-to-day stresses and future fears for the day.

Next time you’re about to hurl your phone across the room because the Headspace app is tipping you over the edge, try those.