One thing you should know about me is I’m a wear-my-heart-on-my-sleeve kind of girl. My emotions are always right there. It doesn’t mean I can’t control my anger or have appropriate responses to situations but it does mean that I cry at some commercials and I feel an intense happiness when I hear a song that I love. Although I think that’s a great thing, it does mean I feel the negative feelings strongly too. Fear, worry, doubt, and the trigger one for me: stress.
First of all, it is always important to do what is right for you. To figure out what works and what doesn’t. I want to share with you what I do and why. It has taken me a long time to find something that works but now that I have, I hope it can help you too.
Why am I stressed?
Whenever I’m feeling stressed or anxious, the first thing I do is stew about it. I get frustrated that I’m stressed. Honestly, I do. I have to get mad but that fuels me to figure out the first actual step which is deciphering: “why am I stressed right now?” What is triggering it? For me, triggers vary. It can be a tangible thing like my friends, family, my job, my apartment, whatever. I’ll use my apartment as an example. I have learned over the years that it really stresses me out when my apartment isn’t clean. If that’s the reason that I’m stressed, I can work really hard and try to keep the apartment pristine but having a dog that sheds, that isn’t exactly a reality. The reason is even deeper though. It isn’t necessarily that the apartment isn’t clean. Sometimes, if something else in my life is out of my control my apartment suddenly seems dirtier then it did before. Having my apartment clean is something I can control. Control, that’s really the reason. When I figure out the root of why I’m stressed, it’s a whole lot easier to fix.
How can I fix it?
Alright, how we gonna do this? Think of what makes you really happy. What takes your mind off of things? What brings a sense of calm? If I’ve had a trying day at work, it is my absolute favorite thing to roll the window down on the drive home and put on music that just makes me so happy. I let the sunshine hit my face and the breeze goes through my hair. I’m wearing my favorite sunglasses and the music fills my car, making me dance at stop lights. The key is to surrender to how the music makes you feel. Sometimes I find myself still sitting there stewing because I’m thinking about what’s wrong and not the music or the sun or the breeze. It’s only when I let the music fill my mind that it pushes out the negativity. Similarly, I’ll come home and while cooking dinner I put a record on and dance my little heart out. When in doubt, dance it out.
Dancing it out is for a mood changer but when I just need to unwind and not think about things, I bust out my lavender candle and drink lavender tea. The scent immediately calms me.
When I’m stressed about the future, I watch episodes of FRIENDS or one of my favorite “feel good” films I’ve seen a hundred times. I know exactly what’s going to happen, I know exactly how this ends. When I’m unsure about my own future, it makes me feel better to watch something where everything turns out alright even if it is just on a tv.
Journal, journal, journal. It’s the best thing for you. Up until this year, I had never fully finished a journal. I always started with a couple of entries but eventually didn’t go back to it. I’ve found since I’ve consistently been writing out my thoughts, my mind is a lot less tangled.
Talk to someone or just be around people. Being around people who are positive and who you can share how you’re feeling with is healthy and helpful. But also realize that’s it’s okay if you need to be alone. I work in an industry where I am around people and communicating with them 100% of the time. It is very rare that I’m not. So sometimes I need a little isolation in order to collect my thoughts and myself. However, when I stay alone for too long, I start to feel stressed all over again. It’s important to find a balance.
Getting outside is incredible for stress. The sunshine and fresh air works wonders on the soul. Sometimes when I’m stressed, I get to the point where I just need to get outside. So I grab Scout’s leash and we head outdoors. I let him lead so he’s really taking me for a walk but it’s so nice. I can either turn everything off and just focus on the elements around me or I can use this time as a way to sort things out so that when I do go back inside, I’m ready to conquer those to-dos.
Keep your thoughts in the now and in bite-sized pieces. I am someone who thinks way into the future and who worries about things that haven’t even begun to happen yet. What is happening right now, in this moment?
While I’m off in the future with my non-existent stresses, I also tend to think big. “I must have this entire apartment clean all the time”, “I have to have read this many books or I’m just not reading enough”, “I’m not doing enough”, “this list will never get done”. While I’m all about list making, keep it in bite sized, manageable pieces. I’ve started doing this thing where I only have 1 task I have to do each day (that isn’t immediate with a deadline) and I do it. If I manage to do more, that’s great! If not, I did my one task.
Lastly, you are enough and you do enough. Trust me, I’m telling myself this just as much as I’m telling you. As someone who regularly says, “no one is harder on me then I am on myself”, give yourself a break and stay positive. It’s okay and it will be okay. I promise.
What do you do to manage stress?