The Expressos



Expressing your stress

7 ways to relieve stress (creatively)

Stress is an emotion we all experience when we feel something has become too much for us. It is a mental message from our body telling us that it is time to take a chill pill!  Every so often stress can be detrimental to our health and often causes physical and psychological illnesses, which becomes even more stressful since we are unable to perform. Discovering ways to manage stress can actually just supplement the stress and become equally time consuming.

With 2016 coming to an end, students are dealing with final exam stress and the working class is dealing with deadlines and a heavy workload before getting your boss to sign off the request for Christmas vacation! Doing two things at once might just help you cross a few extra things off your to-do list, so I have attentively gathered a list of seven ways you can relieve stress (without a stress ball) and express your creative side at the same time.

  • Invest in a mini Zen-Garden

As a child, I would watch my sister use her little Zen garden after school and I was quite amused by the fact that someone would actually gift her something that I considered a very peculiar item. So I decided to do some research around this.

The ‘Zen’ tradition is commonly known for expressing mindfulness, peace of mind and letting go of the negatives that surround you. Creating your own mini Zen garden is a useful way to bring about some of these qualities in your life. The expressive part is that you can design the mini garden in your own personal way and add a touch of what you are feeling through the design of your garden. A mini Zen garden generally comes with stone, sand, gravel and a mini rake. Some also come with miniature plants or a miniature Buddha. The size varies but they are never bigger than an A4 page, which makes it easy to keep on your desk or bedside table.  You can purchase one of these for about R130 at bookstores, home stores or online! Ps; if you don’t want to spend any money, you can find a free desktop zen garden or an app for iOS and Android.

Alternatively, you can learn to make your own by watching this video.

  • Writing in a journal

 As children, many of us had diaries in which we would write a few daily rants about the girl who was nasty to us at school or our secret crush. This was because writing is an outlet that anyone can use. It is simple and accessible. Journal writing has been used as a form of therapy prescribed by psychologist to those experiencing mental distress, so why not pick up a pen and jot down some feelings? By making yourself aware of what happened in your day or by writing down a few thoughts, you will find that this makes tackling the next day easier. Especially if you aren’t one to share your work stress with a loved one, a journal will be you best friend and you might even get to know yourself a little better.  Admittedly, I find it hard to write down what I feel, because once you put pen to paper, seeing the words on a page make it real. It puts your emotions or distress in the real world, and sometimes this is difficult to deal with. But on the other hand, this is also a better reason to do it because you can then deal with the issue instead of blocking it out.


  • Dancing

This one might seem a bit weird and maybe even seem daunting. But I don’t mean join a class and become a professional dancer. I simply mean just put some music on after your long day, lock your room door and shake off the stress! Dancing has been known to have the power to take your mind of the ‘now’ and help you enter a new world. Taylor Swift explains how to shake if off pretty well, so if you are stuck for some music options then this might be a great start.

  • Colouring In

At least one person we all know of is a colourer, this has to be a good sign, right? One of The Expresso’s first series were about the benefits of adult colouring. Adult colouring is a new craze and it doesn’t go unsupported. Plenty of research and experience has encouraged adults to partake in this activity. Adult colouring creates a peaceful and serene environment and the colourer feels at ease with themselves. It is ideal for stress relief and you can personalise it to suit your mood. Take a look at our series for more scientific facts and testimonials from passionate adult colourers. Colouring books are easy to carry around with you so they’re perfect to take to work and they are well priced. You can pay between R30-R100 for a colouring book from any bookstore.

  • Marbling

Marbling is a simple yet beautiful form of art. It is not the most popular art form but it provides the similar comfort and peace of mind as colouring in does. But if you find colour pencils or crayons a bit too juvenile, this is definitely for you. Marbling is similar to tie-dye, it is the art of printing multi-coloured swirl-like patterns on any piece of material using little tubes filled with paint and inserting tiny droplets of the paint onto an oil or water like base.


You can either place a paper on top of this liquid (which now has your pattern) or any form of material. The stress relief comes from the creation of a unique pattern, some find it relaxing to mix and create colours. The best part is that you could print coasters or plates and keep them around the house. They can even be used as gifts, how nifty! When I was in high-school, my mother would watch DIY shows on TV and she used to help my sisters and I make the things she learnt about. One of which was marbling items.  The only downfall is that you have to be at home to do this and it gets a bit addictive. Marbling sets sell for about R125 at any art or stationary store.

  • Yoga

Yoga is one of the most common forms of stress-relief for the working class women. Some take a class at the gym or they try it at home. It is also very useful for men but a but mostly favoured by women. Yoga helps one find inner peace and assists you in separating yourself from reality. It is also beneficial for physical health and even weight loss. If you don’t have a gym subscription, you can use your smartphone to download a free app which will guide you through a step by step yoga session. You can practice this in your office (with the door closed) or in your bedroom, it might even be a good idea to try your garden or balcony. If you do not have a smartphone, you can google a workout session step by step diagram and stick it up onto your wall.


  • Gardening

Gardening is a hobby and a pastime that creates mindfulness. It helps you become aware of your surroundings and the combination of fresh air and sunlight releases toxins in your brain that assist with relaxation. The mental focus one invests when taking care of a few plants is enough to set the cause of your stress aside for a few minutes. Gardening doesn’t have to be growing tomatoes or pumpkins! It can simply be having a few small plants in your garden or balcony and taking care of them. You could also invest in a bonsai or an orchid and dedicate some of your time to growing it beautifully. One of our Expressos is a passionate gardener, take a look at one of her pieces to learn more.


Written by Khinali Bagwandeen






All that jazz, and more

It is an open space where the soul is crawling with specks of luminosity and the eyes burst like a mirage between the setting sun and serene sea.  The wooden floor trembles with the rhythm from the dancer’s feet, following their instructor, step by step, hand in hand. Their heartbeats drumming within their ears as each stentorian moment passes. Droplets of sweat heavily invading their unsullied eyes are a welcomed addition to the fusion of emotions.
Their faces light up with exhilaration as they are praised for their hard work.  After hours of taking in what felt like music transformed into fluid adrenaline, a class full of teenagers runs towards their water bottles in an attempt to revitalize, and the room fills with invigorated voices. The dance instructor sits at the edge of the stage as he gapes at his masterpiece come together; no, this is not the success of the elegantly choreographed movements. This masterpiece is the rhapsodies of delight that the dance brings to his students; the untainted enthusiasm in their faces together with bonds created through the inception of what might become a lifelong passion. This is the masterpiece delicately forged by Iqraam Rahim.

Iqraam Rahim having an expressive moment with his dance class. Photo sourced from: Joe Khan

Self-expression can manifest through many channels, but one that many are accustomed to is dance.  Dance has played a culminating role in the moulding of human beings over the years, be it professional, recreational or even religious; it is an eminent and favored avenue for self-expression.  Iqraam Rahim, a master of movement, has been submerged in the art of dance for 22 years.  A familiar face to the city of Durban, Rahim began reinforcing his passion for the rhythm of movement based on his natural impulsion to music but, as he grew older, this passion emerged as a positive reinforcement in his life.

Dance radiates passion and passion is food for the soul. We flourish through our passion, so how serendipitous is it to live in a world where our passion can merge into our occupation and better yet, our expression?

“Self expression is the ability to be true to one’s unique self”, explains Rahim. To him, dance as his personal expression, is an unconscious materialisation of euphoria that is grounded on a state of comfort and familiarity.

Rahim with a fellow dancer in what he considers his happy place. Photo sourced from: Facebook

Anyone can learn the  art of dance, but there are only a few who can devote their heart to the steps they take.  It is this that we call giving voice to what we know. Expression can be unintentional; there are ventures that we devote ourselves to which could have no ardent meaning until we give it a voice, a piece of our soul.

Rahim is the sole owner of Rampage, a company and school that has flourished through his adoration for dance. It aims to empower those with a regard for dance and opens its doors for those old and young, in search of a swing in their step.  “Being a teacher of dance also falls within the way I choose to express myself because I feel an instant compulsion to encourage the individual growth of my students”, says Rahim.  Sharing knowledge with another person is a sacred relationship. He continued to explain that when his students have reached their rightful state of growth, the pride he feels is much like the gratification a father feels towards his child.

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Rahim sharing the stage with his students.  Photo sourced from: Joe Khan

Expression in dance is intertwined in our lives even in light hearted ways. Have you ever heard someone say “There’s no need to make a song and dance about it”? This is an informal phrase that reflects the expression one stimulates through dance. It might not be literal dance it is used to articulate a meaning of expression through a witty metaphor.

Rahim agrees that dance is central to the way numerous individual choose to express themselves, whether it is at a club on a Saturday night or your version of a 9-5 occupation; dance is movement with meaning.

Written by: Khinali Bagwandeen


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