First off, I wanted to give a sincere thank you to everyone who read and or commented on my last post. The feedback was very sweet, encouraging, and inspiring. It’s always nice to know that other people can relate to how and what you’re feeling. So once again, thank you for taking the time to read and comment! It means the absolute world to me.
After that post however, I realized that I should probably follow-up with some ways that I combat stress. Below I have listed 10 things that I tend to do when I’m feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or just in a general funk. Now, not all of these work in every situation, but overall these things usually help me to feel a lot less overwhelmed and get my mood back on the right track.
1) Identify what it is that’s causing you stress: Sometimes this is easy, it’s that big exam you have on Friday or you’re arguing with a close friend. Other times, it’s not as easy. Either way, if you can take the time to try and understand the source of your feelings and frustrations, it could help you to target and fix them more quickly. After all, it’s difficult to fix what we can’t identify!
2) Make a list: I don’t know about you, but usually the thoughts in my head are a lot more overwhelming than the ones I get down on paper. If just think about everything I have to do without writing it down, it seems like so much more than when I have an actual list to cross off and look at. Lists can also help you to prioritize. Ask yourself some of the following when looking at your list: What has to be done? What can wait? Can I ask someone to help with some of the items on my list? Can I give some tasks away completely? (Pro tip: I sometimes add something to the top of my list that I know I’m going to finish. Why? I know right off the bat it gives me something to cross off and feel accomplished about!)
3) Pray: I know religion and spirituality aren’t for everyone, but praying is definitely something that helps me to feel more calm when I’m stressed out to the max. Now, when I say I pray during stressful times I don’t mean that I reach for a rosary, although this is definitely a great option! My form of prayer is very conversational and informal. I just sort of try and clear my mind, lay everything before God, and ask for His strength in guiding me through whatever it is that I’m dealing with. Prayer isn’t about wishing things away with a magic wand, it’s more about knowing there is someone walking this journey beside you who loves you unconditionally.
4) Count your blessings: It’s easy when we are going through rough patches to focus closely on the things that are going wrong, but all too often we forget about everything that is right in our lives. Therefore, I find it really beneficial to take a step back and remind ourselves of all the blessings we have. I know that when I found myself falling into my funk recently I reminded myself that I am of good health, I have a loving and supportive family, the best boyfriend a girl could ask for, and so many accomplishments of which to be proud! Don’t let stressful times make you unaware of all the great things you have going for you.
5) Unplug/Disconnect: The internet is a fantastic tool for connecting with others and making a lot of everyday tasks like paying bills and sending mail a whole heck of a lot easier, but it can also exacerbate stress. Unplug for an hour or two or even a whole day to focus on you and the things that matter most…not the seemingly perfect vacation photos someone posted on Facebook (I bet they got sunburnt and the lobster dinner wasn’t that good).
6) Hit the Gym: I personally think working out is a great stress reliever! It’s something that is not only super beneficial for our bodies (it’s scientifically proven that exercise releases endorphins, chemicals in our body that stimulate a feeling of euphoria and happiness #biologynerd) but also makes you feel like a total badass. So, throw on some cute workout clothes, get a hype playlist ready to go on your iPod, hit the gym, and come out feeling invincible!
7) Sleep: This. is. huge! Sleep is so important to being healthy and happy and well, functional on a day to day basis! Unfortunately, sleep isn’t something that we can catch up on instantly. In times of severe stress however, consider a good nap or turning in early for the night and then work on a long term goal of better sleep hygiene. (I’m really trying to work on this one!)
8) Take a Break/ Say “No”: Take a step back from whatever it is you’re doing. Are you studying? Take a break to get organized by making a list or clear your mind and hit the gym (look! you’d be doing other things on the de-stressing list!) It’s so easy to expect too much of ourselves and get overwhelmed. Sometimes, you have to say “no”. I have a really hard time with this. I often take on too much whether it be at work or in my hobbies or my personal life. It’s okay to tell your friends you need a night in or to let your boss know that no, you can’t take on an additional project at the moment. Saying “no” is key to maintaining a manageable agenda and assuring that you do the things you have taken on to the best of your ability. Quality > Quantity!
9) Treat Yourself: I think this is super important. If you’re really stressed out, take some time to celebrate yourself and show a little TLC. It can be as simple as actually paying those Starbucks prices for a gourmet latte and baked good, buying some candles, getting a manicure (splurge and get a pedicure, too!) or that pair of shoes you’ve been lusting after. Stress is often the result of letting a lot of things build up to a breaking point, so take a step back and do something fun for yourself every now and then! You deserve it. And no feeling guilty about it!
10) Laugh/Smile: This can be hard when you’re feeling about ready to pull your hair out, but laughter is truly a wonderful medicine. Pop in a movie that makes you laugh or heck, laugh at yourself and the fact the tag was hanging out of your shirt the whole day! It takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile, so prevent stress (and wrinkles!) and smile a little!