We all have days that are considerably more challenging and stressful than others (honestly, sometimes we have bad weeks!). Unfortunately, stress is a monster on both the mind and body. Although I hate to use the term “stress” as an excuse for everything, I can wholeheartedly say that stress is indeed a powerhouse that can make easy tasks seem impossible.
Too many high stress days can really take its toll. For me, I know I am getting in over my head when I start to use the sentence “everything is FINE” way too frequently. And what’s worse, you could even become so used to being in this “high state of alert” that you start to feel like it’s normal!
Don’t let this happen to you. You deserve better than allowing yourself to think that being stressed out 24/7 is normal.
It’s essential to develop some techniques that help you relieve stress and strengthen your self-soothing abilities.
This will take time, and some days it will be harder to do…but practice. Taking care of yourself is key.
When you’re struggling to stay calm, relaxed, and focused, try some of these strategies:
- Breathe deeply. Breathe in for 5 seconds and hold it for 5 seconds. Now exhale for 5 seconds. Do this 10 times and focus only on your breathing. These breaths should only be slightly larger in volume than a normal, relaxed breath. It will feel weird at first, but believe me IT WORKS!
- Take a walk, even if it is around the block. Practice the breathing technique above during your walk, focusing on your breathing, walking, and surroundings. Nothing else should enter your mind. If your mind insists on wandering to non-productive thinking, you might have to simply keep repeating, “Taking a step” to yourself over and over. I am an avid overthinker, so having a word to repeat, such as “breathe” or “calm” helps me focus and quiet my busy mind.
- Get some exercise. Trust me, I hate this one…but it is true. Comfortably tired is what you’re looking for. Work out your frustrations by finding an activity you love, whether it be yoga, crossfit, or running. Hit the weights and show them who is boss. Any exercise will do as long as there is some intensity involved. Shuffleboard isn’t going to cut it (even though I wish it would!).
- Sit outside. A little time at the beach or park can work wonders. Find a relaxing spot with pleasant scenery. Pay attention to what’s going on around you and keep your mind off your challenges. Even 10 to 15 minutes can greatly reduce your stress. You have the right to step away and give yourself a break.
- Take a day off. Everyone needs a break once in a while. However, on your day off, it’s important to avoid just sitting around and brooding about all of your current difficulties. Take your mind off of things and have some fun. Lose yourself in activities that you enjoy, or find new ones that you have been curious about. I love going to painting classes, or even doing something silly such as miniature golf. Living Social is a great way to find new things to do!
- Find something engrossing to read. I am a huge reader. Huge. The ideal book would be able to take your mind off of things for a few hours. Ask your friends for some recommendations, or if you’re like most people, you probably have a couple of books on the shelf that you’ve never gotten around to. Now is the perfect time to read it. If you can’t think of anything, I would be happy to share some recommendations!
- Listen to music. Again, it should be something engrossing that really captures your attention. Don’t be afraid to get up and dance; no one is watching anyway. Music is my form of therapy, so there is always something blasting around the house. Find your jam and press play!
- No phone and no computer. Turn off everything that connects you to the outside world. Then you can really relax. Stay offline for as long as you can.
- Take a nap. There’s no better way to start over than to take a nap. When you wake up, it feels like another chance to start your day over. What happened before your nap is in the past! Now you can deal with it and move on. 20 min is all you need.
- Hang out with people that are fun. Get the gang together and meet for a drink. Or have dinner with the friend that always makes you laugh. It’s easy to get caught up in our own little world. Being with others can jolt you out of that perspective.
Don’t let high stress get you down. The key is to actively do something about it. Some people develop a habit of being paralyzed when things start going sideways, but this does nothing to make you feel better or solve your stressful issues. I have been there, and as I said before, you must practice these steps to help you when you start to see yourself heading down the stress path.
You deserve 20 min, or even a day, to take care of yourself. You are no good to yourself, or the people you love when you are stressed to the max.
Actively relax so you’ll be better able to tackle your challenges. Using these tips can help you minimize the pressure and anxiety you’re feeling and take control of yourself and the situation. Dealing with your challenges effectively is crucial to living the peaceful life you deserve!