Hello, friends! Today I am talking about stress, that unwelcome, practically unavoidable, and definitely unhealthy presence that is an unfortunate fact of life. Try as we might to keep our stuff together, we all get tense from time to time, which makes it not only important, but necessary, to develop strategies or methods for dealing with that stress. It is well known that the negative consequences of stress or anxiety are numerous including mental, emotional and physical side effects that can even have lasting damage if left untended. I want to stress the fact that I am in no way a medical professional, but I do recommend seeking professional help if you need it! I will, however, readily admit that I get stressed often, and so I have found a few techniques that work well for me when I feel myself getting overwhelmed.
- Start with a deep breath. In the heat of the moment, when you are ready to scream or cry or maybe both, just take a deep breath. Taking a good ten seconds to slowly breathe in and then breathe out helps release momentary tension and allows you to gather yourself in the midst of a stressful situation. Personally, I find that taking a deep breath when my exasperation meter nears boiling point helps me regain my patience and find a creative solution to whatever problem is at hand. Also, if one breath isn’t enough, take a few breaths, take a moment to center yourself and reign in your emotions. As a daily or routine practice, meditation or yoga is amazingly helpful for managing stress.
- Take a walk. Sometimes, a little separation is all that is needed when I feel stress mounting. If I am working on a particular project and making little progress, I will literally just walk away from what I am working on so that I can get some space and distance from the source of my frustration. In a very literal sense, taking a walk can be a great way to change gears and change perspective. One of my favorite bloggers, who is all about positivity and radical self love, is Gala Darling, and she wrote an article all about “how a simple walk can change your reality.” And it totally can! I love being outdoors, enjoying the sunshine, the breeze or even the rain; just so long as I am breathing fresh air and soaking up the world around me, I find it so much easier to put things into perspective and realize how wonderfully lucky I truly am and all the blessings I have in my life. Stress? What stress?? ;)
- Talk about it. Sometimes our problems still feel overwhelming, even insurmountable. But guess what? You’re not alone. Talking to someone about whatever is troubling you is a great way to relieve some of that burden of stress and anxiety. And other people are often able to offer a different point of view, seeing something that you might have missed while you were busy totally stressing out. Even just having a friend be there for you to listen and sympathize is sometimes all that is needed to relieve some tension. It’s like when you’re a kid and you have a terrifying nightmare, only to realize after describing it to your parents that it wasn’t so terrible as you first thought.
- Work it out. By this I mean, of course, exercise. Even if you haven’t seen Legally Blonde, most people nowadays know that exercise releases endorphins and endorphins make you happy (and “happy people just don’t kill their husbands!” Sorry, I had to!). Elle Woods references aside, exercise is a great, and healthy, way to relieve stress and anxiety. Whether jogging, rock climbing, practicing yoga, swimming, hiking, dancing, playing a sport, or doing anything that gets your heart pumping, exercise helps wake you up and clear your head. So put on some good tunes and get moving! (Listening to music is another great way to relax, as well as reading! :))
- Laugh! Laughter is the best medicine, after all, and it just makes you feel good. I think something like nine out of ten doctors agree that YouTube is a proven source of laughter-inducing videos of pets, ridiculous people and talented comedians. Okay, I made that up, but I bet if someone took the time to survey some doctors, a large majority would, at the very least, admit to giggling over a belly-laughing baby or even Jimmy Fallon. Amiright?? Whatever it is that makes you laugh or even just smile, do it! Spend time with some of your favorite people, talking and laughing, and take your mind off your troubles for a while. Nothing is better for the soul than connecting with the world around you, especially the people in it who you love!
*I should also note that a healthy diet and a routine which includes getting plenty of exercise and sleep are fundamentally important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and reducing stress and anxiety. But, as I mentioned above, I am in no way a medical professional, and I urge you to consult a doctor for any potentially serious or chronic conditions.
While I am not an expert, I have discovered (through much trial and error) that obtaining and enjoying a healthy lifestyle is all about finding that just right balance of work and play, indulgence and restraint, and just plain old doing what we want versus doing what we have to do. I will admit that stress is something I constantly struggle with, mostly because I have very high expectations of myself and so many, many different things that I am interested in; but, I like to be busy, that’s just who I am. The downside, of course, is that I must constantly reevaluate my priorities and find a way to make time for everything I have going on in my life. I could, for example, quit this blog, which would free up a lot of time, but it would also make me unbearably sad. I love this blog and the creative expression it affords me; plus, I would miss all of you terribly! So, for now, I will simply continue to do my best, and trying my very hardest to do my best for this blog. ;)
What do you do when stress starts getting you down? Is there anything you think I missed??
As always, thanks so much for reading, and, truly, thank you for being so wonderful and supportive! Love you, Kristi :)