Everyday, you have so many tiny pleasures available to you that could serve as powerful antidotes to stress, if you’re willing to slow down and enjoy them.
Science tells us that stress can increase the desire for pleasure and lead to unhealthy behaviors like overeating and the full range of addictions.
Conversely, healthy pleasures, in small doses, can inhibit stress by reducing anxiety responses in the brain. Tiny pleasures release feel good chemicals in the brain that can intervene in the stress response. When you stack tiny pleasures, one upon the other, throughout the day, they can help you build resilience to stress as well.
For tiny pleasures to be effective in relieving stress and building reslience:
- You must be present and aware in the moment.
- The pleasures must be enjoyable and in a healthy dose.
- There needs to be a body-based experience that invokes relaxation and a tide of happy neuro-chemicals.
21 Tiny Pleasures to Help You Beat Stress
Here are some tiny pleasures I enjoy, and you might too. They involve activities you already engage in or or ones that can be done in a matter of moments.
- Savor your morning coffee or tea, drinking in the aroma and the taste.
- Feel the sensation of warmth as the shower streams onto your skin.
- Rub an object in your palm, feeling the stimulation of pressure points.
- Look through a photo album, and enjoy pleasant memories.
- Feel the warmth of the sun on your body.
- Visit your flowers and plants and celebrate how they’ve grown.
- Gaze at the stars and appreciate the mystery of life.
- Listen to the sounds of nature: bird songs, pounding waves, or the rush of the winds through the trees.
- Appreciate the colorful display of a meal.
- Feel nourished by silence.
- Watch families enjoying themselves when you’re at a park.
- Play with your dog or pet your cat.
- Hold your hand on your heart and soothe yourself.
- Knit or crochet, activities proven to evoke the relaxation response.
- Listen to a moving piece of music.
- Enjoy the indescribable experience of clean bed sheets.
- Laugh, just for the fun of it.
- Sing your favorite songs.
- Indulge in a nap.
- Cuddle, hold hands, or kiss your partner.
- Walk barefoot and feel all the sensations on your soles.
These activities aren’t automatically pleasurable, especially if you’re head is a million miles away. You make them so by being present, opening fully to the the sensations, and allowing pleasurable feelings to flood your body.
How to Create a Life of Tiny Pleasures
Only choose tiny pleasures that work for you. If anything on my list triggers a sense of aversion in you, it’s not right for you and may create stress.
Make a point to notice what makes you feel good as you go about your day, and delight in those moments. Try out new pleasures too. Create your own list of tiny pleasures and allow it to grow as you add more enjoyable experiences into your life.
You’ll need to create a life of many tiny pleasures if you want to alleviate stress and build resilience, not just occasionally indulge in a feel good moment. But tiny pleasures don’t need to take hours and hours. Aim instead, for brief moments of pleasure – one to five minutes – sprinkled throughout the day.
Start slowly by adding a few small pleasures each day. Don’t make tiny pleasures “work,” or they may evoke the stress response. Gradually build up until you’re enjoying 10 – 20 moments of tiny pleasure each day. Be sure to gently bring you full attention to the pleasurable experience or it may not have the desired effect.
If tiny pleasures don’t come easily for you, that’s okay. They don’t come easily for me as an INFJ on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. My “inferior function” is extroverted sensing That means I tend to have a rich inner life, but am less tuned into the sensations and experience of the immediate physical world. If you’d like to learn more, read: Do You Know Your Personality Type.
I know, however, that strengthening my inferior function will lead to greater wholeness. So I’m slowly adding small pleasures each day and enjoying them thoroughly.
Building moments of tiny pleasure into your day – each and everyday – is a powerful and relatively easy way to transform your life from a complex of stress to an integrated experience of joy.
Of course, adding tiny pleasures doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy big pleasures too, like a day on the beach, a massage, or a full on vacation. 🙂 You deserve tiny pleasures and big ones too.
If you need more ideas to help you dissolve stress, read: 21 Ways to Eliminate Stress from Your Life.
What are your favorite tiny pleasures? Do you enjoy tiny pleasures everyday?
Thank you for your presence, I know your time is precious! Don’t forget to sign up for my e-letter and get access to all the free self-development resources (e-books, mini-guides + worksheets) in the Always Well Within Library. May you be happy, well, and safe – always. With love, Sandra