Stress is an everyday occurrence that, no matter how hard we try, we cannot really escape. There are things like work and school that seem to be perfect for getting us to freak out and turn into these gigantic stress-balls that are so pumped full of anxiety that we can’t do anything else but stress. Sometimes it is hard to escape this (because let’s face it, work or school will always be stressful at some point), but there are ways to deal with stress so that you don’t end up letting it control your whole life and everything you do. I mean let’s face it – we don’t want to be stress-balls every minute of the day because that is utterly exhausting and overwhelming and a waste of time and energy that we could spend on more positive things. I’ve had some issues dealing with stress in the past – ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you that I am a professional stresser and can stress about anything if I put my mind to it. The only problem with this is that it is not a very happy or peaceful way of living. So, after a lot of research and testing things out, I’ve created a list of tips that can help you deal with stress and even reduce it. Just a heads up though, eating is not one of these things. Yes I know that stressed is simply desserts spelt backwards but binge-eating junk food is only going to increase your stresses not decrease them. It is a ploy that movies teach you. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here are my tips for dealing with stress – I hope you enjoy.
Get a new perspective
Stress can sometimes be the result of you just not getting a fresh set of eyes on something. You get overwhelmed and frustrated, and hence stressed, because you keep trying to do things one way and it just won’t work out. Try getting a new perspective on whatever is stressing you out. You can either do this by taking a step back and trying to think about it with another approach or mindset, or you could ask a friend their opinion. Often you will find yourself less stressed just by seeing something from a different angle, but sometimes that different angle will help you find a solution. Therefore, you will be less stressed because you can move forward with a solution in mind. Yay!
This is something that is a big problem for me, and I am sure that there are a few of you who are like this as well. You always volunteer to help or try to do too many things, and the result is that you stretch yourself too thin and you end up stressed, exhausted and having completed none of them. Does this sound familiar? If so, the way to deal with this stress is to (and I know this is going to sound hard) stop over-committing yourself and learning to say no. I know this is easier said than done, trust me. I still find it hard, but there is nothing wrong with prioritising and telling people that you can’t get involved sometimes. By saying no and choosing what to commit to, you give yourself more time to do what is needed and thus you will have fewer things to stress about, but you will also feel less stressed because you won’t feel so pressured to get so many things done and done to a high standard. If you want to reduce your stress, you’re going to need to start saying no, even if you do find it hard.
Try to accept what you can’t control
Again, I know that this is another hard one, but more often than not we find ourselves stressing about things that are entirely out of our control. We stress about the answer that could be wrong in the exam we wrote this morning, or about the sudden rainstorm that decided to make its entrance on your way to work and now there is an accident that will make you late. The only reason why stressing about these things is pointless, even though it may feel good at the time, is because they are out of our control. As much as you’d like to, you can’t control the weather, or the result of your exam once you have handed the paper in so try and stop stressing about them. For things like exams, I have some excellent advice that my dad used to give me: “There are only two times, before and after.” Basically, you can only stress about things beforehand because that is when you are in control, once that time is up then there is nothing you can do so why bother stressing. If you can’t control something, then try and not let it worry you or stress you out (even though I know from experience that this can sometimes be impossible), because you can’t do anything about it. Instead, focus that energy on things that you can control.
Reduce caffeine levels
Now we are moving on to more tangible ways of reducing or dealing with stress. One thing that you can do is try and reduce the amount of caffeine you drink if you find yourself constantly overstressed and you happen to have a reasonable amount of caffeine in your diet. Reducing the amount of caffeine you drink will help in decreasing stress because caffeine can often increase the level of cortisol in our bodies. Why is this relevant? Well, cortisol is known as the stress hormone so if you are stressed and find yourself drinking several cups of coffee a day, lowering that number of cups will probably make you feel less stressed (I know this will not completely erase your stress, but it will perhaps help in decreasing it). Basically, try to drink less caffeine. Not no caffeine, but maybe a little less.
My dad would be so proud by the number of times I have included exercise in my blogs, but the truth is, as much as a lot of us (including myself) hate us, we can’t ignore the benefits. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress because it releases endorphins (the happy hormone). Endorphins act as a natural painkiller, and they improve your ability to sleep – and this is all good for reducing stress. Another reason why exercise is good for relieving you of stress is that it gives you something else to focus on and gives your brain a break and a bit of a reboot. A lot of people find that going for a run is the best thing to do after a stressful day because it allows them to clear their head. So if you are stressed and also may be looking to increase your activity levels, try exercising (you can start low, no need to go killing yourself by running a marathon on your first day of exercise), and you’ll find that after a while, you do feel less stressed after exercising.
Watch a funny movie or tv show
This is a more relaxed way to de-stress, and some people find this a lot easier than gathering the motivation to get sweaty. Watching something funny is another good way to deal with stress because it distracts you and keeps your mind off of whatever you’re stressing about (so by the end of the show you may even find that you’ve forgotten about what you were worried about, or at the very least it isn’t consuming you quite so much). It is also good because laughing helps to lower the cortisol levels and increase endorphins, and this encourages a more happy and healthy mood as opposed to a stressed and frustrated one. If you’ve had a stressful day and just want to forget it, then get yourself comfy on the couch and watch something funny. (For more info on why laughing is fantastic, head to the home page and check out my blog post about why laughing is awesome and how you can do more).
Take a break
Another reason why we sometimes get so stressed and overwhelmed is that we don’t give ourselves the breaks we need to recharge and so the stress piles up until eventually we collapse and cannot do anything else. No one can handle dealing with stress consistently, every day of every week so don’t do that to yourself. Instead, if you feel that you are stressed, try to take some time out to relax. Spend time with your friends and let loose, or lie in a bubble bath for two hours until your hands are all pruney. You could even just sleep because stress often impacts on our sleeping habits meaning we sleep less (which means that we are more prone to stress) so it is a vicious cycle to get into. Try to relax and give yourself the space to chill – even if you don’t feel less stressed at the start, by the end, you will at least feel a little more positive and have the energy to keep going.
Read a book
This is my absolute favourite way of dealing with stress – picking up a book and falling into an entirely new world where my anxiety doesn’t exist. Reading is an excellent way to release stress for the same reason as watching a movie – it takes you out of the stressful world you are living in and puts you in a new world to get invested in. Reading also distracts you from your stress, because your mind is focused on the act of reading and transforming the words into pictures in your mind. There is simply no room to stress. I do understand that sometimes people find it hard to read for various reasons but if you are a person who likes to read and happens to be stressed pick up your next book and open it up. Even by reading a chapter a night, you’ll be amazed by how peaceful you feel afterwards.
Write it down
Another favourite of mine, writing can often be very therapeutic and a great way to deal with stress and get rid of it. Writing when you are stressed is basically like talking to someone about an issue – it almost takes a weight off your shoulders. Except what is great about writing is that you don’t need someone else and you don’t have to feel embarrassed by what you are saying. Sit down, and just brain-vomit it all out onto a piece of paper, maybe a journal if you are into journaling, and you may find that you feel better and not as stressed once you have written it down. Even if it doesn’t make sense, the act of writing can be very healing and de-stressing because you are subconsciously reflecting on what has happened, but you are also, in a sense, letting it go because you are coming to terms with it by writing it. This may not work for everyone, but if the ideas mentioned above haven’t worked, then this one might be the key for you to deal with your stress.
Find a creative outlet
Journaling kind of falls under this category but for people who don’t like exercising and would prefer to be doing something instead of lying in a bubble bath when they are stressed, finding a creative outlet is a great way to deal with things that are stressing you out. This can range from playing an instrument, doodling, scrapbooking to makeup artistry. It all depends on what pushes your buttons. The reason why creative outlets can help you release stress is that they are getting you to do something instead of wallowing, they are taking your mind off the stress and forcing you to be productive. How many times have you heard that a creator’s best work came from a time when they were suffering? Well, that is because they channelled whatever was stressing them into their creative outlet, and even though it started from a place of negativity, the result was something beautiful. Now you may not be a Picasso or Mozart, but if you have the creative juices then release them when you are stressed and not only will your stress be decreased by the action of creating, but the satisfaction that comes after might just crush any remaining stress out of your system. Now doesn’t that sound awesome?
So there you have it. As much as I’d like to, I cannot erase stress from everyone’s lives. There are always going to be projects, jobs, bosses, or even just random people or activities that stress us out but that doesn’t mean we have to succumb to it. The trick to stress, as with anything else that isn’t positive in our lives, is learning how to deal with it and turn it to our advantage. I once read a great quote that says “Stress is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” I think what we can all take away from this is that even though stress is normal, it isn’t going to help us move forward. So, if you find that you have way too much stress in your life (or there are even small things that stress you out), I hope that this post has helped you find some way to deal with it. I hope that you all enjoyed reading this blog post – please don’t forget to like and subscribe if you haven’t already. If you have any coping mechanisms for stress that work and you are comfortable, please share them with me! I’d love to hear them. Also, if there is any content or topics that you guys would like to see here, please don’t hesitate to let me know. You guys are my everything, and I am always so appreciative of everyone who takes the time out of their day to read the blog. You are all amazing!
Lots of Love
Blondey on a Mission xxx