Setting yourself up for success : create enjoyable activity list

By Erika Flint

People come to see me for stress relief all the time. The primary issue with stress is the overwhelming feeling of too much to do, and not enough time to do it. This post is not about time management skills, or learning to say 'no', although both of those are helpful. This post is about 1. learning more about yourself, and 2. setting yourself up for success by creating an 'enjoyable activities list', and 3. taking time each day to do one thing on the list.

Step 1: Learn more about yourself ( aka pay attention ) Part of being successful is understanding what works for you - and a big part of feeling stress is the lack of enjoyment in life. Stress tends to crowd out all of the enjoyment of other everyday items because we have too much to do. And when, at last, you make it home after a long day at the office or driving your family to and from their events all day, you're exhausted. Now what ? Wouldn't it be nice if you already had a list of items you enjoyed doing, so that when you do make it home, you don't need to put out much effort into finding something enjoyable to do?

Step 2: Write down what you enjoy This part is simple. Begin this activity by starting to think about what you enjoy doing, and when you have creative energy - (this can happen randomly so be prepared to scribble on paper first thing in the morning or create a voice memo) - write down what you enjoy doing. Note that this is also extremely helpful for anyone transitioning from a habit they want to be rid of, to a new habit. Pick up a piece of paper. Write down what you enjoy doing. When you're tired, or stressed, look at the list, and pick something. That's it!

This recommendation is so simple, but it's extremely effective. Most people recognize how full our daily lives have become - take a moment to write down what you really enjoy, and post it on your fridge or another place at home where you can spot it easily.

Step 3: Pick something on the list to do each day The idea here is to pick something on the list you enjoy doing at least once a day. This means you'll need to have things on your list that you enjoy that only take moments to do - like reading a poem out of a book of poetry, sitting and sketching for 10 minutes, knitting for a few minutes, or merely sitting outside without your phone or computer and listening to the sounds of the outdoors. If you have more time, you can go on a walk, call a loved one, or read. Work on your garden or car.

Recommended Step 3 Activity On the list of enjoyable activities, I hope you're able to add self-hypnosis. This very simple and effective self-hypnosis practice takes moments to complete - yet provides a huge payout when it comes to relieving stress. Here's how you do it : when you get home at the end of your work day (whether this be at the office or running errands, etc.), take a mere 5 minutes to transition to your evening. Sit in a comfortable position, breathing in, holding, and as you exhale, say out loud or to yourself "I Enjoy taking the time to relax every day". That's it.

Here's the most important thing to remember : If you take a mere 5 minutes to transition from the time you arrive home from work or other errand running, to being present for your friends and family at home, you balance out the stress in your life through mindful living.

Common Enjoyable Activities

  • Reading
  • Outdoor activity - riding your bike, walking, hiking, or running
  • Writing
  • Drawing or painting
  • Games - crossword puzzle, board games, solitaire
  • Sitting and listening to the out doors
  • Watching Nature

Taking it a step further

  • Ask your family members to join in and add their own enjoyable activities
  • Write all your activities down in a book, and on a rainy day you can pick from it.
  • Add activities that are short in duration, and others that are long
  • Create a place in your home that contain items supporting your enjoyable activities - making it easier to get started

What are some of your favorite activities, and how do you keep the balance of stress from becoming too much in your life? I'd like to hear from you.