What stresses you out? Is it your chaotic commute each morning, the kids pestering you that they’re bored constantly, your partner’s bad habits or maybe it’s the way you look? There are a million and one reasons you might feel stress in some form or another, and it’s never going to be the most enjoyable of experiences. Taking action when you’re feeling stressed is a sensible move, however the problem is that dealing with the issue can sometimes lead us to doing things that will actually make the issue worse rather than better. Lots of things can make you feel more relaxed and happier right now, but have undesirable consequences later on so it;s important to go about things in the right way. Here’s what you need to know.
Identify what’s stressing you out
It’s so easy to get overwhelmed, life is busy and all of us have lots of different things going on. So when your mind is a bit of a mess, it can be helpful to sit down and work out exactly what is bothering you. Organising your schedule so you can fit all of your tasks in can make you feel more in control. If money is the issue, you could speak to a debt charity for advice- or rejig your budget. If you feel like you’re in a rut and wasting your life, identifying this as the issue could spur you on to take a new class, travel or generally take action in some way. Rather than letting a jumble of thoughts swirl through your mind, where you don’t properly understand what’s bothering you, try to pinpoint it. Once you know it enables you to take action. Journalling can be useful, otherwise sit and write lists and mind maps to help you get things straight in your head. It seems like such an obvious point but lots of people with chronic stress have been worrying about things for so long, it becomes a general blur of worry where they’re not sure exactly what the problem is. Before taking action to de-stress however, bear in mind the following points.
Self care, not self destruct
People believe that self care is all about indulging yourself- spending the day binge watching a series on Netflix and doing nothing else, drinking a bottle of wine after dinner, spending your entire wages on a new wardrobe or eating a huge slice of chocolate cake. But this simply isn’t the case, in fact, these are all the sort of toxic self destruct habits that we all need to avoid. Of course, treating yourself every now and again is great, we all deserve a little of what we want- it helps to keep us sane and makes our hard work feel worth it. But don’t get confused, something that helps you to feel better in the here and now but has consequences later on that make you feel worse aren’t the way to go about things. Self care is looking after yourself in a way that means you don’t feel like you need to binge, over indulge or ‘escape’ from your daily life. We all feel over exerted and overworked at times, but find sensible ways to de-stress. Hot baths, gentle exercise, meditation or perhaps just an early night with a drop of cbd oil under your tongue could be far better options. Do things that will help you to relax and look after your body in the moment, as well as set you up for success in your everyday routine. Self care isn’t always fun and indulgent, sometimes it’s doing hard things that have to be done. Politely saying ‘no’ to invitations or people asking you favours which you know will stretch you mentally when you’re already tired. Organising your messy belongings at home, even though it’s not fun or getting yourself to the gym even though you don’t really want to are all examples of self care. Involve bad habits like drinking, smoking, taking drugs, overspending and gambling when you’re not feeling your best. Unfortunately, it’s these things that most people tend to gravitate towards when they’re feeling stressed.
See your doctor
We all have to deal with stress from time to time- work pressures, school exams, driving tests, relationship issues- they can all make even the most level headed person feel frazzled. However, if your stress is ongoing and doesn’t disappear even when the stressor is no longer around, it’s worth speaking to your GP. While of course there are lots of positive lifestyle changes you can make, if the way you feel is a result of imbalanced hormones or brain chemistry then medication is likely to be your best option. Your stress could actually be the way anxiety, depression or another mental health issue is manifesting in you. For some people, therapy (alongside or as an alternative to medication) is the best way to deal with their issue, but do speak to your doctor for tailored advice.
None of us enjoy feeling stress, but it’s part of the spectrum of human emotions and something that all of us will have to experience at one time or another. You can’t always prevent your stressors, but you can respond to things in a productive and healthy way.
How do you cope with stress?
This is a contributed post.