One sure way to relieve stress for me is to write about whatever is bothering me. It doesn't solve the problem in most cases, but it does help to release inside tensions and is a coping mechanism. A friend is writing a daily blog about a close relative's battle with Alzheimer's. It's a service to others, but it helps her deal with the everyday frustrations, too.
Bad news about a friend this past week has pushed my stress factor up a notch or two, and yesterday when I went for a long walk, I began thinking about her dire health situation. How fragile life is--a common thought expressed time and again, but of course, it hits us harder when that life is one we know. It crossed my mind that our lives are like a spider's web, woven carefully and intricately for many years, and suddenly that spider web is brushed aside with what seems like a careless swipe of a hand.
When I came home from walking, I went on with my day, doing household tasks, e-mail messages to check and be sent, errands to run, dinner to fix. But the image of the spider's web kept appearing in my mind. After dinner, I wrote a free verse poem using the spider web as a metaphor. After struggling with the first line, the rest poured forth easily, and when I'd finished, I somehow felt better. It didn't change the fact that someone I know was nearing the end of a long and full life, but maybe it left me better able to cope with the idea.
I've written about upsetting things many times, some of them have never been seen by anyone but me, and some of them have turned out to be published more than once. Maybe because when we write with emotion, the writing is strong and visual.
So, the next time a problem or difficult situation invades your mind, try writing a poem or a paragraph or more about it. You don't ever need to show it to anyone. Do it for yourself. It's one reason for keeping a daily journal. Even the little irritations of life seem better when you write about them.