Want to know how to take on stress?
I am a stress head. The biggest. Knowing how to overcome that stress would be a massive help.
Recently, a little book came through the post relating to dealing with Stress. It was a wonderful little resource sent from The Public Mental Health Team from my local council.
Stress is a cause of so much unhappiness for many of us. I don’t know about you, but when I am stressed, I eat badly, sleep badly, eat REALLY badly, act badly, drink more than I should and…..you guessed it, continue to eat badly!
Unfortunately, no matter who you are or what you do, stress is an inevitable part of life. It gets all of us. We can’t escape……well, OK, maybe you could escape if you ran off to join a hippy community, slept in a tent, weaved flowers into your hair and played ‘Free Bird’ on the guitar around a fire every night. But even THEN, you would probably start to feel stressed eventually. (Like, you may be sick of living without shoes and would really love to have some income to afford to buy some flip flops. And maybe shampoo.)
So, rather than dwell on the fact that we can’t escape stress, I decided to dive into this little book and learn how I could cope better with the stress in my life. I sat down with a cuppa the other night and read through from cover to cover, so I thought I would share what I have learnt and intend to put into practice.
According to the book:
“ Stress is not what happens to us, but how we RESPOND to and deal with situations that are stressful for us”.Public Mental Health Team
We can ALWAYS change how we respond, remember?
The book had lots of helpful ways to cope with stress. Below are the steps listed in the book – along with my personal thoughts on them:
Step One: Understand The Source Of Stress
When I am mega stressed, ANYTHING and EVERYTHING can feel like the end of the world.
Example: I open my purse at the supermarket and all my change falls out – pennies rolling all over the place while I cause a scene scrambling and fumbling all over the floor to get them. Feeling a mix of anger and embarrassment, I just want to burst into tears, thinking, ‘‘why me, I am so pathetic, I can’t cope with this, everything sucks!’. But the reality is, my exploding purse wasn’t really “stressful” at all, in fact, it was pretty funny when I think back to it! It was just my stress reaction when everything felt like it was coming at me at once. The straw that broke the camel’s back.
When this happens, it is really helpful to take the time to really think about WHY you are feeling so stressed. Has there been a death or a difficult illness in the family? Are you getting married or worse, divorced? Are you buying a house (bloody stressful), selling a house or having a baby? Are you starting a new job? Or maybe you just lost your job? Whatever it is, it is SO important to recognise what is causing you the most stress. When you know the cause – you can proritise working to improve the situation or remove stress entirely.
If that isn’t possible, there are always ways you can help manage your stress levels so that you don’t want to burst into tears when something as trivial as throwing your money all over the floor happens. Assessing this is a very important first step in the stress-reduction process and something I am certainly going to take the time out to do on a daily basis.
Step Two: Notice How “Stressed Out” Feels To You
Stress for me means MEGA anxiety. My OCD goes through the roof. It means making stupid mistakes, getting irritated by the mere existence of other people and procrastinating over everything I want to do, while in turn, doing absolutely bugger all. I usually eat a cheeseburger or something and hope that the stress will just….go away. (Side Note: It doesn’t!) But this isn’t the case for everyone – some people have panic attacks and struggle to breathe. (Side Note: I do this one too) Others get stomach pains and nausea or hot flushes. You might randomly burst into tears over the smallest thing or drink a whole bottle of Jack Daniels. It doesn’t matter what you do, nobody is judging here. We are ALL different. But it is so important to learn to recognise your own warning signs and think about how you feel when you are stressed. Ask yourself the following questions: What emotions am I feeling? How do I feel physically?
Step Three: Categorise Your Stressful Situations
The good news is, ALL stress can be managed. One way or another. And this is how to do it. Once you have identified what is CAUSING you the stress and how that makes you FEEL and REACT it is time to put it into one of 2 categories.
Come on, you knew I would advise making a list at some point!
Category 1: STRESS I CAN DEAL WITH
These are all the stresses in your life that you CAN change. Such as your sucky job, your broken car, your finances, your relationship etc etc. Everything in this category can be dealt with (even though you might feel like that is impossible right now) and you should take the time to plan out HOW you are going to change that issue or situation.
Category 2: STRESS I CAN COPE WITH
These are all the stresses (circumstances) in your life that you CAN’T change. Death in the family, chronic illness, failed business etc etc. Although you may not be able to change these situations, there are certainly helpful ways of coping with the stress to improve your happiness and mental well-being. I will go into details below.
Step Four: Handling Stress You Can Deal With
If you have put your situation into this category, you are in luck. You can totally change it!! Brainstorm action you could take to change the situation and then break that down into smaller, manageable steps. Think about:
Do you feel comfortable taking that step? If not, break it down into an even smaller step first.
What might happen when you take these steps? It helps to think about all possible outcomes.
What do your friends/family think about your ideas to change? It always helps to talk things through and get another perspective on somethings.
Once you have a plan, it’s time to take action! Just remember that your stress won’t go away overnight. But with each step you take, your load will start to feel a little lighter.
Step Five: Handling Stress You Can Cope With
Stress in this category can feel so much harder and it can sometimes feel like you are trapped or powerless to change anything. But remember that you are ALWAYS IN CONTROL of your reactions. You may not be able to change your circumstances, but you can always change your perspective. Life doesn’t have to be a constant battle. Here are some helpful ways to do that:
Prioritise Rest & Sleep
THE most important one in my opinion and the reason I always make sure I get my 7-8 hours sleep each night. You need to rest and refresh yourself!
It gets your blood flowing, releases tension and makes you feel more relaxed. If you have a busy schedule, just a 30 minute walk a day will do.
Schedule Time To Enjoy Yourself
Have some FUN. Don’t feel guilty for having a laugh and doing something you love.
Try Meditation. Clearing your mind and being present can really reduce stress. If you are not into that, read. I like to read self-help books. I always find myself excited to level up my life after and have usually forgotten all about what causing me upset before I picked the book up.
Talk It Out
Talk to someone you can trust for support and understanding.
Learn something new. Trying new things or practicing a skill is an easy way to distract the mind.
Decide what jobs are important and plan to make it happen. A build up of to-do’s can lead to breakdowns.
You can’t do everything, and that is OK.
Keep The Peace.
Cooperate with others and go with the flow. Arguments take up WAY too much energy – and your energy take is already close to empty!
Take A Break
Go on holiday! Leave whatever situation is causing you stress and take some much needed time out.
At EVERYONE you see. It really works. #fakeittillyoumakeit
If You Cannot Change A situation, Learn To Accept It.
Step Six: Take Care Of Yourself
Yes, this one is obvious, but living a healthy lifestyle can really have an impact on the way you look, think and feel. Whenever I ‘let myself go’, I feel like a slug and stress really takes a toll on my body. I get run down easily and usually end up with some illness. But when I stay healthy I am mentally and physically prepared to take stress head on. So eat healthily, drink water, keep active and take time out to rest.
Step Seven: Seek And Accept Help
We all need help from time to time, whether we like to admit it or not. You might feel like you are alone with your problems but there are always people to turn to whether that is family, friends, doctors, support groups or helplines. When times get tough, take some time to think about who can help you with your stress load. Asking for help is only a small step, but it can make the world of difference to reducing the stress in your life.
If you are not sure where to turn you can find a list of useful contacts HERE
Wow, I rambled on for quite awhile there didn’t I? The main thing to remember is that stress CAN be managed. Take some time to think about the stress in your life and if you can do something to rid yourself it, DO IT.
DO IT NOW!
There is no time like the present.
What activities do you swear by to help you de-stress? Leave a comment below.
THANKS FOR READING – DHARMA ROCKS Xx