Personally, I think everyone should find something for themselves that is meditative. I don't think it even needs to be some epic spiritual journey where you go sit under a waterfall and think deep thoughts or don't think thoughts at all. (Though, I suppose if you have the resources, to each their own.) I just mean something that you do for/by yourself that can generate a catharsis.
It's interesting, when thinking about how we deal with stress, sometimes when you get to the heart of the matter, you find that we're not dealing with it at all, we're just distracting ourselves.
And sometimes, that's reasonable. Sometimes you have a tough day and you go out for a drink, work out a little harder at the gym, veg out in front of the tv or computer, go out, play games, whatever. It's ok to pair our temporary solutions with our temporary stresses. It's when we get into the matter of long-term stresses vs. short-term stresses. Printer jam -- short-term. Working for a temperamental boss who doesn't appreciate the work you put in which makes you feel like the job you do isn't valued which makes you feel detached/cynical about life/the future -- long-term. The last one doesn't have to be long-term, if you choose to do something about it.
Stress left unchecked is a bad thing and can eventually lead to depression. The thing is, our stress has to go somewhere. If we ignore things that stress us out, they don't go away, we just postpone dealing with them which can oftentimes escalate a situation. Sometimes when something goes wrong in one area of life, we try and control another area in our life as a way to compensate, making drastic changes that can sometimes have irreversible damage. Stress isn't always a bad thing. It can be channeled for something useful.
According to the Mayo Clinic:
Stress symptoms may be affecting your health, even though you might not realize it. You may think illness is to blame for that nagging headache, your frequent insomnia or your decreased productivity at work. But stress may actually be the culprit.
Indeed, stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior. Being able to recognize common stress symptoms can give you a jump on managing them.
|Common effects of stress ...|
|... On your body||... On your mood||... On your behavior|
I started thinking about all of this because of my on-going crane project. (You can click that link to see my previous post about why I am folding origami cranes)
I was thinking about what people want out of a stress reliever and the subject of mindlessness came up. It was only for a brief moment that the word was used, and I was quick to say that I didn't think that folding cranes was an an exercise in mindlessness for me. I find it to be very mindful. I suppose I have folded enough of them at this point that I could continue making lots of them while watching tv or something. But that's not why I fold them. Or rather, that's not how I fold them. For me they are a very deliberate attempt of thinking things through. Sometimes I write inspirational quotes in them, because I am envisioning the kind of strength that I would like to draw on, I'll write about what I've learned, what I want to learn, how I feel... and then when I'm done folding it, if I can, I take that feeling to the next step -- making it actionable.
One of my biggest obstacles was being too closed off from people. I am generally a private person, but I realized that not being as open really hindered me. We all have our own limited experiences in life; that's the beauty of connecting with other people -- you get to see a broader spectrum of the collective human experience by learning from others. I'm fortunate to have people that care about me from all walks of life who I have learned from, and from time to time also feel they can learn something from me. Connecting with people is a true gift.
At any rate, mindlessness has it's place for things, but I think we should also make sure that mindfulness has just as equal weight. I find that addressing what I am going through head-on in this manner has been a very positive catalyst for me.
For anyone who wants ways to address/improve their stress management, I found a nice little site (I have no affiliation with them, just found them) that is a good place to start.
I hope you find what you need as well.