I have found that the best stress relief is laughter. Not polite giggles. Not the mild haha chuckle you hear when they just don't get it. I mean laughing so hard tears are running down your face, snot is blowing out of your nose, your face turns red, and your belly begins to ache when you are doubled over.
You can keep your meditation. You can keep your kickboxing. You can keep your chanting.
I find that having a proper laugh can relieve all my stress.
Last week, I was in a meeting with the managers who work for me. Some of them attended the meeting via teleconference. The meeting ended and I needed to speak to a couple of colleagues about one of the subjects discussed.
Helen* grabbed Kate and we reconvened in the conference room. We were all women in the room and Helen asked if we had seen a programme on television the night before about how to "spice" up your marriage. We started chatting about the content of the programme. Then we heard a voice over the speaker phone from one of my male managers asking us if we needed them to stay on the line for this.
WE nearly died. We disconnected the teleconference immediately and burst into laughter so hard we all had mascara running down our faces from our tears. We still can't look each other in the eye without bursting into fits of giggles.
Last night, the group of colleagues at the conference sat down at a bar on the beach after dinner. Deb** recalled a story about a trip to Belfast for Christmas with her husband and small children that was a mere catalog of catastrophes. She was laughing so hard she struggled to speak. Everyone around the table could relate to the story and was laughing as hard if not harder than she was. Deb is very professional in the office and it was nice to see this side of her. It strengthened our working relationship and relieved some of the stress that comes with travelling with work colleagues.
Today, I am missing home. I miss my children. I miss my husband. But having a laugh last night made it a wee bit easier.
* Names have been changed to protect the identity of the jokers!
** Not her real name either!